Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mike Deodato
In the midst of the crisis at hand with Infinity, the destruction of Attilan, the release of the Terrigen mist, and with a majority of the Avengers (or at least the only ones we care about, but good try Mighty Avengers) off world fighting the Builders, the Illuminati have to deal with an incursion of an Earth from a different dimension again. As they gather to deal with the impending doom, the Illuminati are summoned to talk to the Builders from the parallel universe of the incursion. These Builders explain why they are going to destroy the Earth in their universe, and it begins to dawn on everyone (including the reader) why the Builders in the Infinity series are so focused on destroying the Earth, and possibly the meaning behind the words spoken by the Builder in Infinity #4 who died at the hand (and hammer) of Thor. Maybe that was less of a threat and instead a warning. Also Doctor Strange is exorcised, even Thanos appears to be weary of the Black Swan, and Terrax takes a nap.
Critiquing the writing by Jonathan Hickman in this issue is difficult for various reasons. One reason is he is often laying extremely vague and subtle questions whose answers that may not be answered for many issues. Even after eleven issues, The Black Swan is still very much a mystery. So with that said, often there is a feeling that you should possibly know more than you do while you are reading the issues, but possibly you can’t because you might not know for several more issues to come. This actually makes the entire series extremely re-readable as was Hickman’s Fantastic Four run. Another reason is that this is part of a much larger picture. When people refer to comics as graphic novels because they are embarrassed of saying they like comic books it often bothers me, but I feel as though Hickman writes with each issue being like a chapter in a book. In that way, critiquing his issues alone for a story or plot (or the appearance of the lack of either) is like reviewing a single chapter in a book. The one critique that may be made about Hickman’s writing is often the lack of characterization. Some characters seem to be here just to be here like Doctor Strange or Beast while Namor and Black Panther are being built upon and developed. As much as I love Namor and Black Panther, I would love to see more growth from Doctor Strange in the same way. Even Doctor Strange’s possession didn’t appear to affect him before, during, or after, but I felt that was a great moment to really drive into some of his insecurities or maybe his strengths. But with that small criticism, honestly, this is a fantastic and fun read. As much as I love to check out and reading something fun and exciting like Superior Spider-Man or FF, this book has been a great high-brow read in terms of Marvel Comics.
Mike Deodato is fantastic as always. He is slick and clean, and his use of shadows to develop muscle tones and expressions has made him one of my favorite artists at Marvel since his Amazing Spider-Man run almost ten years ago. I have heard other artists critique his work for appearing derivative of a digital art program, but as a comic reader I absolutely love it and don’t care. With that said, I’m obviously extremely biased of his work, and always think everything his does is amazing and brilliant. He’s possibly the only person that could’ve topped Steve Epting on this series.
With all of that said, I will say, don’t just jump on board and start reading here. You’ll be lost. Some people who have been on board since number one are still probably a little lost. But also, if you are enjoying the Infinity series, reading these tie-ins and really this whole series from the beginning will only make you enjoy everything about Infinity even more so. Hickman’s entire New Avengers and Avengers runs so far have built up to Infinity and also appear to be laying ground for path after Infinity. As an entire collective work this is one of the best written and smartest reads mainstream comics have put out in a long time.
Rating 5 out of 5