From the moment the book opens on the shattered roll call screen, it’s obvious that things aren’t going well for Marvel’s team of heroes. It also shows some changes on the horizon. Hickman flashes forward eight months ahead, and some more drastic changes have taken place. Cannonball has a child, Sunspot purchased a certain company, and much more. Though the most shocking is that S.H.I.E.L.D. is now running things in a big way, and their Avengers are hunting down the Illuminati members with a vengeance.
Much of what Hickman has been doing in this title has been building towards this, and the payoff is looking like it’s going to be big! The story shifts around and spotlights various members of the former Avengers team that Tony and Steve put together in the first issue. Giving us a glimpse of where they’re at now also gives little hints about where the story is going. It’s just enough to pique your interest and test your patience, because by the issue’s end you’re left demanding more. Especially when you see who the newest Illuminati member is, and the reveal at the end of who is chasing him down.
There’s quite the group of artists on this issue, and they knock it clear out of the park! Each mini chapter in the issue is a strong piece of visual storytelling that does the script justice. Not one weak section in the entire issue, and it was good seeing Bradshaw handle the Cannonball/Sunspot part of the issue. There is also a very telling scene involving Thor which reveals a stripped down version of the Asgardian. He says very little, but everything you need to know about his current state is in that panel. Maybe Hickman’s dialogue wasn’t even needed. The final sequence is the icing on the cake in terms of pacing and how great it all looks, so just know that Cheung doesn’t let you down.
You’re going to be left with a lot of questions at the end of this issue, but in a good way! Hickman delivered some very big surprises here and I have a feeling that they’re nowhere near as big as what’s coming up. All I know is that the end of the universe is coming, and if it’s going to be written this well then you should hop on board and ride it out to the end!