Whenever an issue of New Avengers focuses on Black Swan, I just know I’m going to be confused. Something about the character and her back-story just brings out the worst in Hickman (or at least, the worst as I see it) and it just goes right over my head.
The issue begins with 5 pages of weird science babble between the Illuminati (well, most of them, Namor and Doctor Strange are absent, but Maximus The Mad is there to make up for it) about the nature of the Mirror/Bridge, which I think basically boils down to it not just allowing them to look at alternate dimensions, but also to look into the past. I think. I don’t know. The past they choose to look at is Black Swan’s, and we get a look at 3 important moments for her.
The first is when she is set free from the clutches of The Black Priests. She uses some kind of weird green vial to blast at the Priests, and then escape through the door into ‘The Library’. The Mirror/Bridge cannot look into the magic doors. The next snap-shot of Black Swan’s past is a single panel of her performing some kind of ritual sacrifice, but the 3rd and final one is the most interesting. Here, we see her on another Earth, where she has helped their version of Reed Richards and Tony Stark save their planet from destruction using Manifold, but it has come at a great cost. The planet seems to be basically a desolate wasteland. She turns on Reed and Tony, warping Reed into the sun (in this reality, he was the Human Torch) and snapping Tony’s neck. So basically, we have confirmation that the Swan is not to be trusted, which… duh.
The final 2 scenes were also very confusing, as we saw the aftermath of a fight between The Illuminati and Black Swan, or some kind of violence, she was still in her cell, but Maximus was injured and there was blood everywhere. They basically tell Black Swan that she’s never getting out of her cell, but she doesn’t mind, sooner or later, Rabum Alal will come and it won’t matter. The issue ends with a conversation between Black Swan and her fellow prisoner, Terrax, where he basically confirms that change is coming, there will be a reckoning etc. Most interestingly, it looks like Thanos and Proxima Midnight’s imprisonment in the cube might not be as permanent as we thought.
Overall, this was a strange issue, Black Swan still doesn’t really make sense as a character, and it would have really helped if the recap page had actually recapped her origin. This was the kind of story I don’t like from Hickman, loads and loads of promise for the future, but not much actually happening in the present. And to top it all off, this was probably the worst art I’ve seen from Simone Bianchi, it looked really rushed.
This title has a habit of releasing issues that really don’t work for me every 5 months or so, luckily, it usually bounces back with something immense. Let’s hope #16 is immense.