Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Jerome Opeña & Dustin Weaver
The latest issue in Marvel’s latest event is an excellent issue if you have been paying attention so far. And by paying attention I mean reading Hickman’s Avenger series since the beginning of Marvel NOW. This is not a jump on event, and even though the adjective-less Avengers had a four issue prelude to this event, All 17 issues of that series and all 8 of the New Avengers are vital reads to fully enjoy and understand this series. This event, unlike DC’s current Villains Month, is an event that the dedicated will truly enjoy and comprehend, but may very likely annoy and turn away any casual reader. But that’s kind of what Hickman does.
The art for this book is fantastic. Opeña and Weaver’s styles are similar enough that at no point did I feel a disjointed break in the story telling, unlike in the final issue of Age of Ultron. Both are skilled and realistic artists and they do a great job. They are excellent examples of what most fans expect from their art in mainstream comics. They have great power and skill at telling a story which at some points could very easily become convoluted and mismanaged by a weaker artist. There is a page featuring Black Bolt’s simple retort to Thanos that is kept coming back to after I finished reading the book. I’m unsure which artist drew that page (I believe Dustin Weaver), but the layouts, the art, and even the lettering were masterfully done on that page. Even if you don’t want to buy this issue, just thumb towards the back at your local LCS and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
As for the story that Hickman is writing, to be honest I’m not a huge fan of this builders story. I feel that there is grandeur and an epic nature to this narrative that is eluding me somehow. Yet, the story built from the New Avengers is one of the greatest stories I read since Abnett and Lanning left Guardians of the Galaxy several years ago. So with an issue focusing predominately on the galactic battle between the Avengers and the Builders, I found much more interest in the shorter second half of the story featuring Thanos and Black Bolt. This is also an obvious lead-in to the Inhumans series coming out in December. It really disappoints me that Marvel is already pushing that series into the mix before this story even dropped. It could have had so much more power if they had just waited a few weeks. But that’s my issue with their marketing not with Hickman’s writing.
Hickman, as usual, feels slightly aloof in his writing. He gives you enough information to follow the story but infamously drops other pieces of information that you are left either clueless or only partially aware. His writing is not for a lazy reader, but that isn’t to say that if you don’t like him you’re a lazy reader. Reading Hickman is like going on a road trip when you don’t know the destination. At some point you have to just enjoy the journey and hope the ending is worth all the time.