The Avengers help the Low Evolutionary (who curiously is never seen in this issue) battle the High Evolutionary on Counter-Earth, and the Vision’s love of four issues leaves (with dozens of their robo-babies) for deep space somewhere with a message we never hear.

At first, the non-stop action of this issue left a lot to enjoy, like a roller coaster full of cheap thrills. After looking it over, however, you realize it’s a bit of an empty experience. In fact, this issue is a bit of a mess.

Firstly, to repeat, the Low Evolutionary and nearly all of his army are barely featured at all, despite quite the tumultuous battle to be had. You would think that such an important feature of the book would allow for some denouement. But pretty much all important plot points are like this— they are brought up and abandoned like the flip of a card as the writer goes through the deck. Sabretooth appears, withered and aged if you remember from last issue, and then disappears in some rubble. For all we know, he’s still there because there’s nothing like an end scene with the rest of the Avengers back on Earth. Complete lack of basic follow-through. Captain America, at first, is leading the charge of Evolutionary’s forces, until he’s not, but at least he gets to be thrown into a tube for a couple of days for a cure, thanks to, oh, say, the Vision.   

And most frustratingly, the whole plot twist of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch’s lineage is suddenly *not* so revealed after all. The Vision says he knows “the hidden truth about the twins” and that “the truth would crush her.” I appreciate the soap opera-iness of the whole thing, and honestly I don’t mind if they are Inhumans or Evolutionary’s experiments or whatever, but the whole thing’s reaching some pretty absurd levels at this point. The readers’ heads are bouncing back and forth between origins so much we’re getting dizzy, and more than a few of us are ready to throw up.  

There are some definite high points of the story, however. Quicksilver gets some significant moments of introspection, and it’s as poignant as any of his most memorable characterizations. Here, he comments how often he used his lineage as a way to justify his own behavior, and how he must truly free himself of such excuses to become a better person. Luminous, then, becomes a nice foil to this, as she is quite clearly “her father’s daughter” by contrast.

In fact, the whole theme of family and its impact on identity is strong in this issue. From the key players of Quicksilver/Witch/Evolutionarly/Luminous and Vision/Eve, to Doctor Voodoo’s round-up of ghostly warriors, to even some bit action like two little refugees calling out to mommy during the battle. Aren’t we always defined by our family? Whether you are following their footsteps or walking directly away from them, they are the litmus test for ourselves.

Perhaps the best solution is to choose your family, as the Vision is able to do. Although that happy message is dubious, as the Vision uses it as an excuse to hide some important truths, and his prosaic line that he will be there “until the stars burn out” is juxtaposed with the logo for Secret Wars in which, as we know, the stars do in fact burn out. Well, Vision, that was quick.

All of this discussion without any mention of the art shows how distracting the uneven plot can be. Acuña brings his usual strengths to the fore, and the art is suitably moody and expressive. And the colors do bring a lot of dusty texture to the battle, and the glows and starbursts of energy are truly brilliant. Unfortunately, there are more than a few times when the panels are simplified too much, and a general scene of debris is too scratchy and vaguely outlined to be effective. There’s a sequence with Quicksilver running up the side of a building to attack the Evolutionary that ends in a confusing way. I usually appreciate the landscapes and designs of this series, but in this issue those things are rushed, at best, or simply absent. Except for when Quicksilver punches the High Evolutionary so much his helmet breaks apart; we get a glimpse of the Evolutionary’s true face, and it’s nicely monstrous.

Overall, the Evolutionary makes a compelling villain, especially for this series. Points are awarded for concept, but taken away for failing to stick the landing.

Grade

C+

Conclusion

For an all-out battle finale, this issue offers a more intense look at the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, with a large side helping of the Vision, bringing out some themes of family and personal responsibility. Unfortunately, as usual, that means the rest of the cast gets short shrift, as plot points are never really introduced nor resolved; they just sort of happen. The art, similarly, contains some poignant moments in between all the rushed ones, resulting in a pleasant read after the first experience but with increasingly diminished returns as you think about it.