This issue is the other side of the coin that is Avengers #35, as we’re eight months in the future and piecing together what has happened to the Illuminati. Reed, Beast, and Hulk, who now goes by “Doc Green,” along with Captain Britain, have been on the run for some time. Stark is “lost,” and Black Panther is on a side mission that doesn’t reveal good news at the end of this issue. However, if you expected good news after seeing that cover then you’re a bigger optimist than I.
Hickman has so many moving parts going on at once, but manages to keep things from being confusing. However, there’s still much that is unanswered, which may or may not frustrate some readers. There’s still the feeling of “something big” with this story, but we still don’t know how Captain Britain joined the ranks of the Illuminati, nor how he joined the eye patch club. What is established is that things are very bad, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is everywhere and capturing the Illuminati is priority number one. So where the book really shines is that Hickman is writing these characters like the uber intelligent men that they are. Much of the dialogue lays out how they’ve stayed a few steps ahead of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how they plan to continue their mission. The amount of tension and suspense that takes place during the story does well to keep you involved enough to want to stay engaged. There isn’t a character that isn’t well written here, and though Capt. Britain may not be in their caliber of intellect, Hickman doesn’t have him feel out of place either. There is a lengthy conversation between Susan Richards and the captured Amadeus Cho that took too long to become interesting, but when it does it really gets intense. It is a little strange to see Susan on this side of the law after how passionate she was about fighting against Reed during Civil War. If you haven’t been reading this then understand that Sue’s determination to capture Reed is akin to Stryker hunting mutants.
Kev Walker’s artwork in this issue is some of the best you could ask for. He moves the tension and drama just as well as the narrative does, and with the assist from Frank Martin and David Curiel on colors you’ll be pleased at what you see here. Walker even draws a great looking Beast, which seems to have been an issue for several artists since his transformation took place. There is very little to complain about aside from the missing “4” on Reed’s chest that appears seconds later in the next panel.
This is a very cerebral title, and Hickman isn’t showing his hand just yet as to what is going on. Time Runs Out has been a pretty cryptic story line running between Avengers and New Avengers, but it is one of the more focused and exciting things to happen in a while. This is highly recommended to those of you who are tired of huge events and want something a little more self contained. New Avengers #25 will leave you guessing and on edge, but for all of the right reasons.