Rabum Alal. An ominous name since the very first issue of New Avengers, when Black Swan uttered that the end would come by his hand. Doctor Strange has been searching for Alal and access to his library at the outer reaches of space with the Black Priests, and he has finally found what he has been searching for.
New Avengers #31 is a huge issue, both for the series, the Avengers series, Secret Wars, and the Marvel Universe(s) as a whole. A long standing mystery that has been spoken of since the first issue of New Avengers is revealed in a big way as Hickman heads out to catch readers up on the goings on with Doctor Strange and his Black Priests. Black Swan has spoken of Rabum Alal in reverent tones since her first appearance and now, this character is finally here.
The entire issue is built around the reveal, but the story leading toward the “big moment” is not hollow. Doctor Strange and the Black Priests has been an interesting sub plot that deserved more page time and readers are finally getting it here. The Priests and Swans are both interesting clans and their addition into this fray has me all the more excited for the conclusion of these storylines. With each page the feeling that this is all coming to a head grows and the big reveal of the identity of Rabum Alal can’t help but force a ton of questions:
– WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
– Why, Hickman, why do you puzzle me so?
– How is this all going to play out?
– Is he responsible for the incursions?
– Why do I have to wait for answers?
Okay….that’s out of my system. While all those questions are hanging in the air, I will state that it is a well written issue. The pacing is strong, and Hickman works with Kev Walker very well. I said this with the last issue, but Kev Walker has outdone himself with this issue. This was a big issue with the reveal and he brought his best, handling Strange and the Priests very well and framing the reveal very well. This is a damn fine looking comic as Strange journeys toward Alal and I think Kev Walker took some strong strides in the right direction with this one. It’s like everything just clicked into place and his artwork does not falter. A book this big needed top notch artwork to fly, and Walker delivered.
New Avengers #31 is a fantastic chapter for fans who have been around from the beginning. Hickman’s epic story, that has now been in motion for years, is about to blow up in a big way and this issue feels like the match that has been lit that is moving toward the powder keg to blow this all wide open. Rabum Alal is here, y’all.
The Verdict: 8.5/10