(Marvel Comics, 2015)
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencils and Inks by Kev Walker
Colored by Frank Martin
Letters by Joe Caramagna
Things have grown exceedingly dark in this issue of New Avengers as the “Time Runs Out” arc speeds headlong into the massive Secret Wars event and the end of the Marvel Universe as we know it. Series writer Jonathan Hickman crafts one of the most poignant chapters yet in his extensive Avengers opus focusing much of the attention on Reed Richards this time and really spelling out exactly what he and his fellow Illuminati members have sacrificed in the face of almost certain destruction. Doctor Doom likewise plays a significant role as the narrative unfolds calling to mind Hickman’s phenomenal run on FF and the meticulously detailed character development that went into these two opposing individuals. Richards is personally responsible for many of the issues most deeply human moments, particularly as he recounts the harrowing events recently faced in the course of the Multiverse’s looming catastrophe.
The pace of this issue seems to be accelerated after the big Secret Wars announcement, however that could also because the story has naturally picked up a great deal of organic momentum; at this stage in the narrative events are unfolding that not only progress the complex plot but pull us deeper into the story. Hickman very astutely uses exposition to give us a clearer picture of the Illuminati’s activities during the 8 months or so leading up to “Time Runs Out” which is important as it pertains to their past attempts and subsequent failures in resolving the Incursion dilemma.
The deeper sense of urgency that is evident in this issue can also be attributed to Hickman’s use of Richards as the primary focal point of the narrative; his voice more than any other speaks volumes of the overwhelming dread felt in the face of this insurmountable danger, Richards is truly the unstoppable force facing the proverbial immovable object in the pending Incursion. Hickman has such an intimate understanding of both Reed and Doom which speaks to his expert handling of these iconic characters. His ability to bring out the emotions and humanity, not only in Richards but in Doom as well through a shared genius Hickman is able to deliver some of the best dialogue he has written, and that’s a major accomplishment for someone who consistently writes great dialogue.
Visually, Kev Walker turns in some of his best Avengers work to date. Walker’s expressive character work perfectly captures the tone of Hickman’s dour narrative. There is a strained sadness to his depiction of Richards as he recalls the Illuminati’s inability to arrive at a viable solution to the Incursion. His cinematic use of panels in his page layouts works extremely well with Hickman’s script; whether it calls for a big action sequence or a quiet moment of reflection, Walker’s images are spot on. Frank Martin’s brilliant use of color adds a rich depth to Walker’s work and gives it that added spark of vibrancy that makes the action explode from the page.
New Avengers #29 picks up right where the events of Avengers #40 leaves us and it doesn’t slow down for a second; from the first page to the senses shattering final page reveal, this one is pure comic book perfection, ever more than that it’s pure storytelling perfection. Hickman and Walker are in complete unison as they march toward Secret Wars and the dawn of a new era for the Marvel Universe.
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.