Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Comics Rant: Avengers #40

Written by: Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Stefano Caselli

    Every couple of months I feel like dropping this book. I don't always understand what's going on, and it relies heavily on the assumption that the reader is also reading New Avengers. But every so often an issue like this ones out. One that doesn't take the Avengers into alternate time lines, meeting cloning robots, or Franklin Richards from 4,000 years in the future. We get an issue like this which is simple, quick, and mind blowing. A plan, a double cross, an explanation. This one was pure gold. Just to catch you guys up in case you haven't been reading either title, the Illuminati made up of Namor, Black Panther, Reed Richards, Iron Man, Beast and Dr. Strange have been visiting other worlds. If Infinity showed us one thing other than event books suck, it was that other worlds and universes and timelines exist. They exist and they're crashing. They're physically colliding with each other and killing everything. So what the Illuminati have been doing is visiting those worlds and destroying them before they can reach our world. When Captain America found out, naturally he did not agree with it and threatened to take them all out, that's when Iron Man had Dr. Strange erase Cap's mind. What they didn't expect is, Steve would remember. Since then he and S.H.I.E.L.D. have been on the hunt but the Illuminati have stayed multiple steps ahead. Cap has finally caught up with Reed and is demanding answers.

    This one opens up with a flashback to Wakanda, land of the Black Panther. T'Challa is still a boy and his father, the king before him, presents him with his blade. He calls it the King's Blade and it belongs, rightfully so to the king. These flashbacks will be plentiful in this issue but play a key role in the issue's story. Cap and S.H.I.E.L.D. have caught up with the Illuminati in Spain and everything is now starting to come together. Cap's giving Reed, Sue and Hank 5 minutes to plead their case and start explaining. They explain to Steve the reasons for their actions and agree to turn themselves into the proper authorities after everything is done, except for T'Challa. He refuses to be punished for something that was benefiting all of human kind, but there isn't time to argue. They need to destroy one more world, and here's the plan. The Cabal, a group of aliens including Thanos who are helping the Illuminati destroy worlds are going to be on a planet in minutes where an incursion, planets colliding, is about to take place. Namor will be there with them to help set up the bomb that destroys the planet that is inhabited with those shape shifters, while the Cabal are fighting the shape shifters, that's when Namor will double cross them, leave and detonate the bomb. Killing the villains, and the world in question.

    There are some more flashbacks sprinkled into the book. One of T'Challa giving the King's Blade to his sister, and another of her returning it to him after the destruction of Wakanda at the hands of Namor. Time is short and the fight on the planet ensues. The Cabal are tied up in the fight as Namor finishes setting up the bomb and makes his escape. Its at that moment that Sue Richards notices...T'Challa isn't there! As Namor returns to the site for transport, Black Panther is there waiting for him with his father's King's Blade. Remembering what he sister told him when she returned it after the destruction of Wakanda "Put the blade where it belongs." She meant into the man responsible for the destruction of their home and that's exactly what he does. T'Challa drives the blade into the shoulder of Namor, but this is a fight he can't win. He stands back up and snaps the King's Blade in two but Panther lets him know that's not what is going to kill him. At that moment, Black Bolt arrives and tells Namor to bid his brother farewell, and we all know what happens when Black Bolt Speaks. For those 4 who don't know, he has an explosive voice. Namor goes flying off the transport platform falling back to the planet about to be blown up. They do not leave right away, Panther waits until the very last second possible. He knows Namor will not die from the fall, but will be disoriented and wants him to wake up and realize what's going on. He wants Namor to know that he was the one responsible for his death. Black Bolt and Black Panther return and T'Challa simply tells Reed that Namor isn't coming.

    Talk. About. Intense. This conflict has literally been building up between Namor and T'Challa since Avengers vs. X-Men. That was the last good event book Marvel put out over three years ago. Imagine that, three years later and still seeing the effects and repercussions of the event. Of decisions made by people so long ago. Hickman's writing is on point, as usual, and Caselli's art is pure pleasure to look at no matter what book its in. THAT is good comic writing. This book definitely restored all my faith in the series and even made me want to go back and backtrack all of Hickman's New Avengers work just to see how these two didn't kill each other earlier. This is all leading up to Secret Wars later this year which, even though I said I was done with event books, will be buying out of dedication to the name, seeing Secret Wars was not only Marvel's but the entire comic industry's first ever real big event. Get ready, because in 4 months...time runs out! Until next time!

-Matt Milanes

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