Hot on the heels of last week’s rather confusing instalment, New Avengers is back for an issue that somewhat gets things back on track, but I’m not sure is as good for new readers as .NOW issues are supposed to be.
After a brief opening scene featuring Black Panther and Namor bickering, which is always entertaining, their role and antagonistic relationship in this book has always been the best thing about it, we’re back to examining an alternate universe, but this time, things are a bit different. This is because this isn’t another Universe that tried and failed to stop the Incursions… but one that succeeded in stopping them twice.
What makes this world even more interesting is that it’s clearly an analogue for the DC Universe. Ever since this book began, I’ve thought that Hickman was slyly poking at Crisis On Infinite Earths, and this brings all of that back. If the Marvel Universe has been able to repel Incursions, it only makes sense that the DC Universe could too. I was surprised that this Universe wasn’t just another take on the Squadron Supreme, the Green Lantern analogue is called Doctor Spectrum, but other than that, it’s all different. Superman is ‘Sun God’, Batman is ‘The Rider’, Flash is ‘Boundless’ (and a woman, so is Doctor Spectrum), Martian Manhunter is ‘The Jovian’ and Doctor Fate is ‘The Norn’. I wonder why Hickman didn’t decide to go to the normal Marvel Justice League homages, I guess it’s because he’s already using Hyperion.
This issue did pretty much follow the pattern of recent issues, we are given lots of exposition about the history of this world, and then see them deal with an Incursion. But there are bigger differences in this universe. Sun God delivers a speech that is similar to Reed Richards’ now well-known ‘Everything dies’, but instead, it’s ‘Everything lives’, which is a crucial difference I think. It’s the sort of thing Kurt Busiek did in JLA/Avengers, where the DCU was just that bit more optimistic than the Marvel Universe. Of course, with the New 52, that’s all changed, but Hickman is keeping that shininess a bit more. The Justice League, sorry Great Society, head out to stop the Incursion, where they run into the Mapmakers. Whilst the rest of the team deal with them, The Norn uses his magic to somehow stop the Incursion and blow up the other Earth. He does this by splitting into 3 and putting on what looks to be the same helmets the Black Priests wear. Somehow, the Great Society found away to stop The Priests, and take their power for themselves.
I’m very intrigued as to where this is heading now. Are The Illuminati going to head to this Ersatz DCU and team-up with them? Or are we going to see Doctor Strange (who is still AWOL) attempt to do the same as The Norn and take the Black Priest’s helmets? The questions raised in last week’s issue made me roll my eyes, but this week’s had me begging for answers. That’s the thing about Hickman, he’s always asking questions, but they aren’t all equally gripping.
The art here comes from Rags Morales, and it was certainly a bit of an adjustment to see him drawing Marvel Characters when he’s spent so long over at DC. It’s a good job he was mostly drawing DC analogues! I’ve always liked Morales’ style, and it looked good here. I really like the way he draws Namor, he just looks so perfectly cocky. I suppose that makes sense too, he drew Black Adam for a long time, and he’s basically just Namor isn’t he? As I said last week, a bad New Avengers issue is no big deal, as Hickman normally gets back to form pretty quickly. He does that here, and sets up a whole lot of interesting new story possibilities for the future.