By: Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Steve Epting, Rick Magyar (Artists), Frank D’Armata (Colorist)

The Story: Another Earth is set to collide on the main Marvel Earth, appearing above Latveria. The Illuminati, in the domain of Doom, needs to act against this new type of intrusion to their universe.

The Review: If there’s one thing that Jonathan Hickman knows how to do, it’s building up a conflict or a situation in a way that can makes us readers feel invested. The stakes are getting higher, the many elements are explained to us in ways that feel expensive and full of potentials, it’s great. However, as much as building can be great, it is another matter entirely to properly capitalize on what was constructed.

Here, we have a terrible decision that had been sent to the Illuminati in regard to a situation that is immense, perhaps too big for each of them individually: whether to blow up another world in order to save theirs. It was something that was fascinating to read as each character had to voice their opinion and their fears about what terrible decision and what compromises they would have to make to resolve this. It seemed that there was no peaceful or fully satisfying resolution to this conflict, which made it all the more interesting to read.

However, there is a single thing that bugged me, in an important way, in this very issue and it is the actual resolution of this dilemma they had. Bluntly said, the conclusion to this whole problem seems a little bit too convenient and easy, which does lessen my entire satisfaction about this entire storyline. With the introduction of the Mapmakers and their dead world voyaging through the multiverse, it does cheapen the decision that the Illuminati makes when they know they aren’t making any casualties if they destroy this particular Earth. While this new element is actually well thought-out and will no-doubt be a fascinating new addition to the whole story in New Avengers, the decision to explain and show it right there does lower the actual impact of this whole crescendo of internal debate within the Illuminati.

Still, even though there was this single, yet big, thing bugging me in this issue, there is still a lot to like in this issue when it comes to concepts and characters among other things. Here, Hickman does use the voice of each character in meaningful ways, yet the more interesting character would be Black Swan, who keeps on getting deeper with each panel. Her interaction with the diverse characters in this book does make her mysterious, yet in a compelling way, making us ask the question about what her motivations are and just who she is. Still, as much as she does have a great presence in the book, there are other characters beyond the Illuminati that are full of promise in the long run, like Terrax and Doctor Doom.

As for the interactions and concepts further explained or introduced here, they are big and very gripping, which does give us a lot of anticipation further down the line in this book. Even though Hickman can have trouble pulling off everything he builds, it would be hard to say that his ideas aren’t interesting or even without potential for long-form storytelling. While the main threat is dealt with, we still get to see him plant some seed for further conflict and plots down the line, which he does in a way that does suggest very interesting things.

However, as much as Jonathan Hickman builds and suggests, we should be thankful to see Steve Epting in such rare form with his art. The man can be minimalistic in his attention to details in scenes with Terrax and Black Swan as much as he can be expansive when showing the other Earth getting close to Latveria. He can adapt his scope to suit the plot in a way that does not provide too sharp a contrast, which only heightens the script. He is also very good when dealing with action and expressions, as even his masked characters are fully able to emote thanks to their pose with subtle shadow play.

A lot of credit should also go to Frank D’Armata, who gives this dark book all the somber tones it needs. His accentuation of shadows through a somber filter does wonder here to give the story and the art the mood it needs.

The Conclusion: While the conclusion of this arc could have been much stronger, It cannot be denied that the continuous world and situation building Hickman does is nothing short of great and it is doubly so thanks to Epting and D’Armata providing the art and colors to suit the scope and tone.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière