By: Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Mike Deodato (Artist), Frank D’Armata, Rain Beredo (Colorists)
The Story: We catch up on what the Illuminati are doing one month later as a possible open war between Wakanda and Atlantis might emerge.
The Review: Transition issues can be unsatisfactory. Many readers will know what I’m talking about, when a writer knows that he needs to pad out some issues before he can get to the next storyline in order to converge with something the company is doing. It can be frustrating to see some of the subplots take precedence while the main plot is tossed aside, alongside some of the main characters.
Thank god then that the writer here is Jonathan Hickman and that the convergence is an event of his own creation, meaning that he knows full well what he is doing here. A transition issue this might be, yet it has a huge weight and continues several elements of what makes this series great to begin with.
Skipping a whole month, the title catches up with the rest of the Marvel universe as Tony Stark is in space, Beast has mutated and there has been no new incursion event. This issue, instead of focusing on the tumbling multiverse and the explaining of the various phenomenons that this cause, we are given multiple scenes involving the Illuminati, with the most important being around Black Panther and Namor. Taking advantage of Avengers Vs. X-Men and how it set up the antagonism between Wakanda and Atlantis, Hickman play us the political game.
The exchange between those two characters is nothing short of exquisite as we see that Hickman gets those characters. He gets the regal, arrogant, yet ultimately noble Namor and the proud, intelligent but also practical Black Panther as he makes them interact in a pretty interesting scene that shows that both are used to political plays and power struggle. We never truly know what exactly the endgame of those characters is, yet the mere fact that their words suggest other intentions makes it entertaining.
Another thoroughly entertaining scene would be the one featuring one of the most popular villains in the Marvel universe: Victor Von Doom. Dealing with the fallout of the previous issue, the monarch of Latveria invites Reed Richards and Doctor Strange to eat in his castle as he tries to get answer from them. I had loved how Hickman had handled Doom in his tenure on Fantastic Four/FF and he does it again here, this time in a more ominous light. Unlike those previous titles, New Avengers is not exactly a particularly optimistic or ‘’fun’’ book per se, as it deals with darker themes this time around and it shows.
This issue is full of smaller moments as well, as Hickman sets the pieces for his long-term game. He does so in a manner that is perhaps more appealing than on Avengers, due to his smaller cast of characters, which are all well-written and developed. He gets those characters, their voices and their interactions are always written cleverly. A lot of the pieces he puts in play also seems to have possible repercussions that could be very interesting in the future, which shows that Hickman does know how to build a long story right when he wants to.
Something he also knows how to do would be how to get the best artist suited for his stories, as Steve Epting is now gone, replaced aptly by Mike Deodato. Considering the large focus on the shadow play and the darker outing on the art, Deodato is the perfect replacement for Epting as he continues the tradition, reflecting the darker themes on the art itself. His takes on the characters are evocative, looking very expressive through their posing and their expressions, yet he also uses the panelling and the positioning to compel the tone of the script very ably as well.
In this, he is joined by both Frank Martin and Rain Beredo, who enhance the tone through the colorization. Playing a lot with the somber tone of the story, they arrange for darker colors and do many contrasts with brighter colors in the background as opposed to the abundance of dark on the characters themselves. Using both simple techniques and complex ones between each panel, they do add to the complexity of Mike Deodato’s approach to the script.
The Conclusion: With a focus on the characters and with a plot that deals with many of the fallouts from the previous storyline and others, Hickman gives us a great issue of New Avengers. Mike Deodato, meanwhile, does his part magnificently as he is helped by both Martin and Beredo in the color department.
Hugo Robberts Larivière