It’s a bleak world that Hickman presents in New Avengers #24, but for readers who have been following the series since the beginning, a deeply satisfying one. As the book jumps eight months into the future, there’s some intense payoff for seeds planted in earlier chapters and with thirty pages of story, there’s room for plenty of surprises as well.
Despite most of the main cast being absent, the Illuminati’s presence is felt throughout the issue because the Marvel Universe that their choices created is finally shown. Namor put together quite possibly the most dangerous group in comics when he gathered the Cabal last issue and Hickman treats us to some chilling scenes of Thanos and the crew doing what the Illuminati were preparing to do except without the guilt and restraint: destroy alternate earths. The implication that they’ve been acting so violently for eight months and that the rest of the world is complacent with their roles as Earth’s saviors make it even more chilling. In a prolonged sequence that showcases just how much joy the Cabal take in their new jobs, Hickman delivers maximum emotional impact by effectively choosing the alternate Earth’s characters to torture. With Thanos and the Cabal using other worlds as playthings, it’s no surprise that Namor is forced to ask for help while Black Panther makes a desperate move to save his fallen kingdom from them. It’s these three story threads that the issue focuses on and they combine to deliver a captivating beginning to a Marvel event that’s been years in the making. And it’s to his credit as a writer that Hickman can build up a story for so long and still deliver a final page that no one could have reasonably predicted without the moment feeling too random.
Valerio Schiti’s slick art has a standard superhero feel to it so when paired with such a dark story, it makes certain scenes even more unsettling. He clearly enjoys the heck out of drawing Namor and continues to provide gorgeous panels of the character drawn with a variety of playful expressions. It’ll be difficult for readers not to sympathize with Namor this issue because of the devilish charm and good looks that Schiti endows him with. If the character ever gets yet another attempt at a solo series, and he will, it’s a no-brainer who the artist should be.
Frank Martin and David Curiel, on color duties, prove that a dark story doesn’t mean you can’t have a bright book. They choose to play up the violence, soaking the pages in a red-orange tint as if you’re viewing the Cabal scenes through the bloodthirsty eyes of one of its members.
This may very well be the most brutal Avengers issue to date and yet it’s bewitching to watch a world of beloved characters crumble so gracefully. I’ve been on the edge of my seat since this series began and like a certain character begs Thanos for mercy this issue, I’m begging Hickman for more, literal, world-breaking revelations.
The Verdict: 9.0/10