Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Jim Cheung, Mark Morales, John Livesay, David Meikis, and Justin Ponsor
The short of it:
We open with a flashback to the Illuminati eliminating another Earth during an Incursion before seeing the throne from the credits of the Avengers movie, where some beast called The Outrider is reporting to its master that it has done well. The master is pleased and sends Outrider to find more worlds to slaughter. To Ahl-Agullo, a planet ravaged by these people in the past that has begun to rebuild but they won’t have anymore of that. Corvus Glave goes and asks the king about his son, the champion of these people, taunting them before revealing the warrior’s destroyed weapon and offering to bring out a corpse to go with it. Corvus continues to taunt before demanding tribute for his master. He does just that, bringing their heads to Thanos.
You know what? This book is all over the place, almost to the point of confusion at times, but the ridiculous nature of the scale is definitely gotten across. Next stop is the planet Galador where the Builders are trying to wipe it clean to do what they do, but they are held off by the Space Knights. Captain Universe appears to say that it is useless, and that all things die, and that’s when the Builders wipe it all out. Not even the planet remains. Back on Earth a team of Avengers are on a mission for S.W.O.R.D. to take out four guys and a cat eating pizza. I mean Skrulls. They go down easy, not a fighter in the bunch, but Captain Universe is back at the Peak.
In Attilan the Inhumans are gossiping about their King’s sex life while the Outrider sneaks in to Black Bolt’s chambers to enter his mind and seek out information. Digging through his secrets in search of something. While, back at the Peak, Ex Nihilo is looking over Captain Universe as an open distress call comes in from the Kree as the Builders cut through one of their outposts. Between that and the Skrulls they figure the Builders path to be directly to Earth. Back in Attilan the Outrider finds some of what it is looking for; the location of the Infinity Gems. Here’s a hint…they’re broken. He tries to go deeper, but Black Bolt cuts him off in his mind and in real life rips his arm off. Well, one of the four. Outrider kills the gossipers before Black Bolt meets him with a single word. One would think it would kill the beast, but no, it transforms into a space ship and leaves.
The Avengers gather up the entire roster for a sitrep, and to talk about how they have to go out and stop the Builders before they can reach Earth, because if they get there it’s over and everyone is dead. Iron Man is staying, the rest are going. On Titan the Outrider returns to reveal what he learned, that the answers are in Attilan, and his reward is the death he seeks. So Earth is the target of Thanos. Earth that now has no Avengers.
What I liked:
For five bucks out of Marvel, this book is actually a pretty decent deal. There are a ton of pages, not just an inflated price tag.
Man, I missed Jim Cheung drawing stuff. I know the art team is more than just him, but his books always have this great feel to them. The characters look great, the action is blockbuster, and he really nails the scope of everything. It’s a shame that Marvel doesn’t take advantage of him with more monthly titles because books with him pencilling always wind up gorgeous.
Seriously, he even made Iron Man’s new deep space costume look bad ass.
Hickman paints a universal scale in a way that most writers could take a note from. It’s something he did incredibly well during his time on Fantastic Four, and something he does to varying degrees in his Avengers titles. This book is all over the place, literally, it spans the galaxy and multiple races and makes it very clear that this isn’t just an Earth threat. AVX had none of that.
Sam and Bobby are great. Sure, they only get one panel, but it’s just an awesome panel.
Black Bolt is one hell of a bad ass. I might not really care about the character, but I respect moments like him ripping off someone’s arm, or whispering the word ‘stop’ to try and shatter every bone in someone’s body.
The Infinite Comics issue came as a freebie when I put in my redemption code, definitely softens the increased price point.
What I didn’t like:
There are so many characters in this issue and I care about pretty much none of them. The Avengers and X-Men may cameo, but Black Bolt is the only non-original character to get decent screen time. It’s mostly just the Builders, Space Knights, and whatever you call Thanos’s people.
On top of that, I care about none of these characters. Not even Black Bolt.
ANOTHER MARVEL EVENT!
For as much happened in this book, nothing really happened in this book. Outrider went looking for the gems, the Builders blew up a planet, and the Avengers went to intercept. There was no real lasting impact at all.
I liked Ikon! And the Annihilators! Wait, where are they? You’d think a universe destroying threat would have the biggest bruisers in the galaxy teaming up to stop them, right? That’s why they exist! Are all things Abnett and Lanning forgotten?
At no point in the issue do I fail to realize that really big stuff is happening, but also, at no point do I care at all about what is happening. Between this spinning out of an overly complicated run of Avengers, to it being YET ANOTHER event out of Marvel (Age of Ultron is NOT even available in trade yet), and the fact that Marvel still hasn’t bothered to explain how Thanos and Starlord are back while Nova isn’t; at no point did this book grip me in a positive way.
This book really benefitted from the increased page count that the giant price tag allowed it to have. Had this been a regular sized issue I think we’d have another Age of Ultron on our hands, where substance is sacrificed in order to get the most bang for your buck. I may not have loved the issue, but I definitely got the sense that Hickman wants to write something huge.
You know, I read the prologue issue on Free Comic Book Day and completely overlooked that it was in this issue until someone pointed it out to me. So it was either really forgettable, I read a lot of stuff, or something else happened that weekend. You be the judge, because for the life of me, I can not remember the issue at all save for “I read it”. Wait, no, this might explain the dejavu I experienced with the Illuminati stuff to open the issue. I don’t feel like digging out the issue, was that part of it or am I crazy?
Is Jim Cheung slower than Bryan Hitch? The last time I remember him doing interiors was Children’s Crusade, and since then I can’t remember him being on more than cover duty. What gives? He’s an amazing penciller that always seems to be teamed with inkers and colorists that always turn in an A+ job, but he never seems to be drawing anything! If Frank Cho can get consistent work in the X office then there’s no reason Cheung can’t get a job doing a single issue story or a small arc.
I think there’s a rule somewhere in Marvel’s book that says that their vast cosmic lineup should be used as quick death fodder in all giant scale event books. The Phoenix wiped out some Kree in AVX, Secret Invasion and Annihilation wiped out the Skrulls, and here we see the Space Knights get massacred to the point of planet destruction.
So it’s a world without Avengers, and they’re taking into account that the X-Men are going to be dealing with Battle of the Atom and that the Inhumans have issues, and we know the Fantastic Four are gone. So they figure they’re set, and we (the readers) know about the new Mighty Avengers team, but come on, there’s still more than that. This is Marvel, there are enough C and B listers laying around to fill up most of the rosters in a pro sports league.
Speaking of, AGAIN, it’s yet ANOTHER Marvel event! And Battle of the Atom starts in a few weeks (the first in ages that I’m excited for), and then we’re getting the Inhumanity banner header that will lead, undoubtedly, into the next event. Marvel may be doing a lot of things better than DC, but they should look at their competition for a note on how to make events matter. Forever Evil, love it or hate it, is the first real DC event since Flashpoint (with a few scattered crossovers in between), though Zero Year seems to be turning into one in itself (Snyder really can’t escape it). Still, they aren’t pushing another one out within two months of the last one ending. The books that spun out of Age of Ultron aren’t even three issues deep, and this is Marvel we’re talking about where three issues can fit into a month if they feel like it.
Watch the next big event be a Superior Spider-Man one, likely late this year or early next year, to get rid of Ock, put Peter back, and get things ready to cross promote with the new Amazing Spider-Man movie. Not unlike how this book feels like it’s happening because Thanos is going to be a bad guy in the movies.
I’m going to go read the Infinite Comics issue that came with this now.