REVIEW: New Avengers #2
Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Steve Epting
The Illuminati descend upon Wakanda to stop the end of the world in the latest issue from this reality-spanning title.
Time is fluid in Hickman’s world. Three hours earlier at the Necropolis in Wakanda, Reed Richards is interrogating the Black Swan, the captured alien invader, and analyzing the destructive device inside of her. She and her army destroyed Earth in the reality they came from, and she warns Reed that his people are completely unprepared for the hell that is coming. An hour ago, Black Panther visits with Namor, much to the trepidation of T’Challa’s guards. He warns Namor to behave himself in Wakanda, and to go unseen and unheard as not to anger its wary people, recalling the fallout of Avengers vs. X-Men. Namor is unfazed by T’Challa’s forewarning, and as they leave to meet with the rest of the Illuminati, T’Challa swears to kill him once their business is done.
At their gathering, the many egos of the group clash over their next move. Reed gives his ominous speech from the first issue in a scene moving forward in real-time and provides some much-needed exposition on the Multiverse. We learn that all of the infinite timelines, no matter how disparate, will eventually all arrive in the same place and state. In one of the parallel universes, on a parallel Earth, an event occurred so devastating it obliterated the entire timeline, causing a ripple affect across the Multiverse. Now everything is going to die, but much sooner, as these ripples cause timelines – and Earths – to collide.
If one Earth is destroyed, it eliminates the incursion point, allowing the other will survive and stopping the pan-reality catastrophe. With only an eight-hour window at the point of collision to act, the council faces universal annihilation if they don’t help the Black Swan destroy the other Earth and save their timeline. Resolving to find the late Charles Xavier’s lost Mind Gem, they set about to reassemble the Infinity Gauntlet and do the unthinkable: The Illuminati are going to destroy a world. The issue ends on a brief flash-forward, narrated by Captain America’s inspired call to battle, showing the horrors that lie ahead in a chilling contrast.
Ominous and somber, this was the book I expected in the first issue, and it did not disappoint. The liquid flow of time emphasizes the colossal danger ahead as T’Challa, Reed and the others struggle with each other and themselves to make the right decision. All the characters are better established here than in the last issue, and Hickman’s treatment of each is very satisfying. Their dissimilar personalities and histories are explored in brief but tantalizing scenes, showing the various brands of arrogance each of them bring to the table, while the plot remains well-grounded through T’Challa’s story. The grim tone and pace was well-implemented by Epting’s cinematic style, although with most of the book taking place at a round-table discussion, it gave Epting little room to really stretch his creative legs. That said, his work is highly effective and complements Hickman’s story perfectly.
With only a few nitpicks here or there to take away from a very promising arc, this Avengers book is a completely different animal its sister titles, and I’m looking forward to seeing how far these men go to achieve their goals.