Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Mike Deodato (Artist), Frank Martin (Colorist)

The Story: Black Bolt prepares for the inevitable future of the Inhumans, Reed and Tony share some disturbing information between each other as Namor receive a surprise that will shake him to his core.

The Review: How do you continue a book that has its sight on something large? How does one can prolong the fun and intrigue of a book that has dealt with huge concepts and with characters that are familiar with such concepts?

The answer, if Jonathan Hickman is to be believed, is to go even bigger and personal. Just a couple of issues after the incursion events, the fact that the multiverse was in turmoil and that the Illuminati would need to make difficult choices to preserve their Earth, Hickman goes right in and provide some more problems as Infinity looms in.

What is actually quite solid in the book, so far, is the fact that the writer seems able to juggle with multiple plots, with each of them starring one or two characters, making him use close to each of his characters effectively, with a few exceptions (sadly, there is no Beast and close to no Doctor Strange in this issue). Each of these plots either advance in a way that is interesting in the long term, or is vague enough to let us theorize about just what this all might mean.

This is a double-edged sword in term of storytelling, as it does show that Hickman can get the readers interest rapidly, yet cannot necessarily satisfy it in the time being. Two o the plots handled in this issue are nothing more than teasing for the future of the book and the Marvel universe at large (the Black Bolt and the one featuring Reed and Tony specifically). With only the story revolving Black Panther and Namor being clear in its intent and direction, it makes for a rather uneven reading experience. Not that what we see here is uninteresting as it is quite the contrary, since we see some page and panels that promise some huge things for the book (the Living Tribunal panel is especially chilling). It’s just that there is so much that can be teased in a story without it becoming a tad annoying.

While the story and the direction might be vague in some terms, there is one area in which Hickman excels at: characterization. He gets who the Inhumans are, with Black Bolt being the noble, yet also determined king that he is, Maximus being the genius, yet crazy scientist and Medusa being the proud but quick to anger woman. He not only get who the Inhumans are, but he also gets how the characters under his pen interact with each other, with Reed and Tony being respectful of each other, yet also acting with secrecy. He is aware of the twisted relationship that Black Bolt has with his brother, with the love they share between each other, despite Maximus being insane and unaware of a lot of things that his brother is doing.

However, one of the most interesting relationship between characters in this issue, which come to a new level here, is the one between Black Panther and Namor. As the situation between each character had evolved and changed throughout the first arc and the previous issue, we see just how kings have to deals with ugly truths such as war and it’s like. The arrogant, yet noble and well-meaning Namor clash very well against the benevolent, yet crafty and always prepared Black Panther, as the two giants have tried to stop the upcoming war between Wakanda and Atlantis. The scene with the two characters is one that truly resonates with the dialogue, yet also with the tone and what is communicated throughout the art. None wants what happens, yet it is a necessity, much like real war.

Speaking of communicating through the art, the more I see it, the more I can see that Mike Deodato is truly at home on such a book. His dark, large and atmospheric style fits the book like a glove, as he is able to render the large scope of the stories and the scene perfectly, as he is also able to do the contrary and diminish his own style to focus on smaller elements as well. He is at home when dealing with space, floating cities and the arrival of Thanos as he is with two characters simply speaking. Speaking about how he draws character, I have to say that his ability to render the emotions and the stance of each character is superb, as his Namor is memorable, his Black Bolt has a quite a presence and the others are also quite something too.

Frank Martin deserves tons of praise as well, as he is able to match the pace of Jonathan Hickman and Deodato very well with his colors. Giving us a weird sci-fi vibe with its abundance of grey and cold colors with the Inhumans and following with a scene full of a vivid mix between intense warm and cold colors. He mesh with the tone of each scene, delivering cold and dark in several key scenes, while showing a good deal of warm and bright colors in the others while making a connection with the script.

The Conclusion: While there may be a good more deal of teases rather than development, we do get some great character interaction and moments, some curious ideas full of potential and some gorgeous art from Deodato and Martin. Even when it fumbles a little, New Avengers is able to deliver and this issue is no exception.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière