Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Artwork by: Leinil Francis Yu
Did you ever know someone whose will to do the right thing, whose determination to always take the moral high ground, is so strong it’s just annoying? Well that’s what’s at the core of this issue of New Avengers. Captain America, Steve Rogers, he’s a great guy to have on your side but don’t ever try to pull the wool over his eyes because God help you when he figures it out. That’s just what happens in Avengers #29 (2014).
So what follows will be some spoilery stuff from avengers #3 but none from this issue of the series.
So the Illuminati had to reform. This is a group of the world’s most brilliant people. They have the world’s best interest at heart but they needed someone like Steve Rogers in the mix to keep them on the straight and narrow. Sometimes a group of smart people tend to look at a problem too scientifically rather than consider what’s simply the right thing to do. The group had broken up but with the incursions happening they were the only one’s able to come together and find solutions to stop them. The incursions involve Earth’s from two different dimensions appearing in the same place and colliding leading to the deaths of everyone on both planets. The eventual solution the Illuminati (Iron Man, Black Panther, Reed Richards, Beast, Sub Mariner, Doctor Strange) came up with involved sacrificing one planet to save another, their own of course. That solution was not suitable to Steve Rogers. He didn’t believe in killing others to save himself. He would rather sacrifice himself than take an innocent life. At the same time these heroes wouldn’t just be sacrificing themselves but everyone else on Earth too. Also if the Earth we know was sacrificed it wouldn’t stop the incursions. Other versions of Earth would continue to be destroyed. So during a meeting where the plan to destroy other versions of Earth as they were about to collide with our planet was conceived captain America not only disagreed he threatened to not allow the plan to happen at all costs. So he was vetoed and his memory of all knowledge of the Illuminati and the plan were wiped from his mind by doctor Strange.
When I read this several issues back I was fascinated. It was one of those great stories where by the end you asked yourself who was right. At any rate, I knew that the Illuminati just wrote a check that would eventually get cashed and in this episode it definitely gets cashed. It seems Cap is having nightmares about the end of the world, about a plan involving the Illuminati and something more about the Infinity Gauntlet. He finally snaps awake with his memory returned and he’s ready for action. Captain America you see is a badass, no doubt about it. He’s a badass not just because the super serum pulsing through his veins makes him super strong and agile and an amazing fighter but because his will power, something that was always in him, is stronger than any other hero. This guy cannot be stopped. He’s the kind of guy who’d take a punch by a much more powerful opponent and he’d get up and keep taking punches until the opponent was too tired to keep fighting.
Hickman’s writing of Captain America here is exhilarating and there’s a sense of “finally” when his mind is back in order and he quickly builds a team to do what must be done. These people trust him without question and the execution of character here makes you want to trust him to and to help him even if you don’t know all of the details yet. One of the people he seeks help from is Thor and the God of Thunder gets a really great intense moment in this book too. When the team stampedes Tony Stark’s home looking for answers Stark tries to joke his way out of it and Thor’s response is fear inducing. On the other side Stark is a funny guy most of the time but even he will tolerate so much disrespect and he shows that even when he seems weakened he isn’t; he’s just trying to be nice. This issue of Avengers is a standoff between Marvel Comics titans and again you have to ask which one of these guys is right? This one segment is reminiscent of some scenes from the Civil war miniseries but the intensity is so much more palpable here than it ever was in that series.
The ending of the issue is quite the cliffhanger to say the least. It’s really a tough one to process and it’s exciting to see what is going to happen next. The one thing I will say is this whole arc that Hickman is building better not be fixed with time travel. That will be a cop out in a huge way. Something else worth mentioning is that this comic features the Original sin logo which means it’s a tie in to that summer event book. It’s not apparent in the book why it’s a tie in which is also fascinating (if it pays off). Is this tied in because what the Illuminati are doing is their “original sin”? Could it be a tie in because the incursions have something to do with the murder of the Watcher? The shooting of the Watcher and the investigation into his murder is at the center of the Original Sin summer event series. Things may become clearer after Original Sin #2 hits shelves because there is an editor’s note that warns that the events of this book happen after whatever happens in Original Sin #2.
The only real problem here is that a major part of the book recaps literally so much of what happened in Avengers #3. Some of this obviously needed to be done to build the drama of how real Rogers’ “dreams” were but there was a little too much. We did have recap pages before the actual book started after all. Outside of this the characterizations were just fantastic in this issue and the action was solid too.
The inks and colors here properly represent the dark mood of the book, especially in the straight on face panels of Cap and Thor when they are just pissed off. With that said the shady-ness of the art made some of the action a little tough to follow here and there.
This is a great place for folks who haven’t been reading this series to jump in. The recap pages and Cap’s nightmares pretty much completely catch you up. Outside of that there’s just awesome character beats here and it’s a great start to the next phase of a story arc that had been getting a little long in the tooth.
Overall (Not an Average) 7/10