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

*I strongly urge people to read this week’s Avengers #21 before reading this story. You have been warned.*

The Story: The Illuminati gets to see why and how and the Builders destroys worlds as Thanos gets in the Necropolis after his assault on Wakanda.

The Review: This issue should be called ”how to use events to propel a book forward”. While it was to be expected that Jonathan Hickman would find the better use for his event called Infinity in his own titles, it seems that there were some ideas that he was keeping for his ongoing.

What Hickman successfully do here is tying in the incursion events, the problem in the multiverse, the Builders and many other elements together in a cohesive manner. Better yet, he is also able to add quite a lot of depth to the concepts he introduced in Infinity as well as in his other book, Avengers. What he accomplish here is nothing short of impressive, as not only he is able to surprise his readers, yet he keep the progression of his themes going without slowing down any threads.

This all begins with the incursion as the Illuminati tries to see how it is and whether or not they should use the same technology as last time, when a particular being comes to meet them, inviting them to see the end of the world and the very reason why the Earth cannot be left alive. The Illuminati and their encounter with this specific group is a fascinating second point-of-view to what is happening in their own universe and how Infinity can be perceived by other beings in other universes. Hickman also manages to bring in a few character moments as well as he is still able to bring what makes some of the Illuminati interesting to begin with. Not all characters gets the spotlight, but it is still entertaining to see how Beast, Reed and the others reacts to these revelations.

However, it is not the only thing that happens in this issue that is entertaining, as the Cull Obsidian is also heavily featured, with them trying to take on Wakanda with their full force. In this issue not only do these characters become a bit more interesting thanks to their view of life and how they interact with each other, but it also features Thanos in a good number of pages. Hickman’s use of the mad titan is good, too, as he is shown as the mastermind, as a man of few words as he simply analyze everything that he sees as he observe the necropolis, with characters like Black Swan, Terrax and the installations to kill other words picking up his interest.

However, things aren’t perfect as there has some slight problems in this issue that could diminish the overall enjoyment of readers. All in all, while there is a lot of new information and revelations in this issue, there isn’t much development. It provides new context and angles, yet the story doesn’t progress that much. Wakanda seem to falls, Thanos observes and the Illuminati gains some new information and that’s pretty much it. Still as it may, the pacing is still solid and the concepts are still fascinating to say the least.

Another area where everything is pretty much solid is the art, with Mike Deodato switching from military angle to end-of-the-world scenario to full cosmic without hurting the visual flow one bit. He is able to switch from action to more character driven-interaction easily, always focusing on the proper poses that would render the script apt on the pages. His characters, backgrounds and general panelling are great too, as nothing is ambiguous in their designs and their focus. Where he’s a bit weaker is with the expressions attached to his characters, though, as Deodato seems to have taken the seriousness of this book too much at heart. There isn’t a great range of emotions on display here, as the characters all seem to be stuck in some kind of inner conflict, never showing how they might be shocked, fearful or otherwise by what is happening around them. The rest is top-notch, though, as Deodato really succeed in bringing in the right atmosphere.

The person who really do make the atmosphere work even better, though, would be Frank Martin and his heavy use of shadows and deep colors in contrast with the very few bright and warm colors in the issue. The heavy use of red and other warm colors during the incursion, the emphasis on grey and dark on the spaceship, the contrast of the dark and grey against the bright blue sky are only some of the effects brought by the work of Martin as he really reels in the right tone and atmosphere throughout the issue. Every bit of action is heavy in its contrast, bringing in the white uniforms of some of the soldiers against the red energy and the blood next to them and so forth, Martin uses very obvious contrasting technique, yet does so effectively throughout the issue. It’s an issue worthy of his talent, that’s for sure.

The Conclusion
: Big concepts, some heavy action and some terrific work from Deodato and Martin makes the slow progress a minor problem as Hickman manages to makes his event even more expansive in the process. Heavily recommended.

Grade: A-

Hugo Robberts Larivière