Time is running out. We’re getting closer to the epic finale of Avengers and the story that Hickman has been building for years….and it is fantastic.
Jonathan Hickman is building suspense with this issue, cranking the intensity up a notch as the forces of the Infinity war turn their sights on Earth. Reed & T’Challa proceed with plans and send Banner and Braddock on an intriguing mission and we get a very intriguing mention that the Summers’ clan may have something up their sleeves.
This issue checks in on a whole bunch of threads in this grand tapestry and it works. 42 issues into Avengers and this close to the end it is obvious that this issue isn’t for new readers and people who have been with Hickman from the beginning will be intrigued by the groups of people visited in this issue. This is going to blow up in a big way very soon and the heavy hitters are assembled. Somewhere, I envision Jonathan Hickman is sitting with his hand over a giant red button while he waits to unleash madness upon readers. Infinity now seems small compared to what has been built here and he does a great job of being very selective with the dialogue characters utter in this issue. Every character is filled with dread and anger, whether they are seeking vengeance or seeking to save their people. Hickman adds the Guardians into the mix in a way that brings some laughs to the end of the issue which balances the upcoming conflict nicely. When you consider the giant cast Hickman is working with and how precisely he balances them all in this issue, it is quite impressive. His pacing is strong and while this issue doesn’t have a ton of flying fists, the story moves along at a steady pace. This is more than just set-up for the big finale. Pieces are being moved around the board in a very interesting way and seeing these characters in the “calm before the storm” was very nice.
It is especially nice when readers can see these characters penciled by Stefano Caselli. Many creative pairings are capable of making magic, and Hickman and Caselli are one of those pairs. The subtle touches are everything and how Caselli handles the facial work of these characters is excellent. He is a master of the craft and his artwork has qualities that lock in the eye and don’t let it go. Caselli’s linework is precise and consistent, with no panel faltering throughout the whole issue. His layouts are strong, his pacing is excellent and Avengers #42 is an issue that has got that special sauce that makes everything work. That special sauce is Hickman and Caselli. These two have built quite the highlight reel over the years since they started working together and this comic is another entry in that long list of winners. Caselli is as good as it gets and when Hickman is writing this well, they are a team that can’t be beat.
Avengers #42 is a rock solid comic featuring a huge cast and some strong lead-up to what is hopefully going to be one hell of a finish. Hickman and Caselli are on the top of their games with this issue and if you are interested in Secret Wars, go snag some old issues of Avengers and don’t blink until you’ve finished #42. The stinging in your eyes will be worth it – it’s a damn fun ride.
The Verdict: 9.0/10