Waiting for the Trade – New Avengers

 Waiting for the Trade

New Avengers:
Everything Dies

by Jonathan Hickman
and Steve Epting

collects New Avengers
(2013) #1-6

Why I Bought This: Actually
I didn’t, I got it from the library. I had intended to buy this some day when I
first heard it involved the Infinity Gems but then I bought the Infinity crossover trade by Hickman as a
brand new preorder on Amazon for $50 and hated it. After that I wasn’t willing
to spend more money on a Hickman trade. However with this now being the book
that sets the new Secret Wars event
in motion that is allegedly going to end the Marvel Universe I decided it to
track it down and read it. 
The Plot: The
Black Panther reforms the Illuminati when he discovers that universes are
colliding.

(Spoilers below)

 

Chapter 1 – We open with a flashback of Black Panther
refusing to join the Illuminati when it formed years ago. Now, in Wakanda,
Black Panther is working with three teen geniuses whom he believes are the
future of his country on a stellar map. Suddenly, they uncover a hole in
reality. On the other side of the hole is a looming planet in a red sky as well
as woman speaking Sumerian to her followers. Panther and company approach her
and she informs them that an “incursion” is occurring and she has come to destroy
a world. Panther vows to stop her; at which point her men fatally gun down
Panther’s teen followers. Panther takes on the soldiers while the mystery woman
kills her main hireling and detonates a bomb that destroys the world in the
sky. Panther takes down the woman while the world returns to normal following
the explosion. Panther then summons the Illuminati to Wakanda, whose members
are Black Bolt, Namor, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, Captain America and Iron Man.

 Chapter 2 – Reed interrogates the woman from last issue, who
is known as Black Swan. Swan reveals the world she destroyed was an alternate
Earth. Reed briefs the others on the threat. He explains the infinite alternate
earth multiverse theory. He says all universes left to their own die at the
same time. However in one of the universes an event occurred that destroyed
that universe. As a result the remaining universes are contracting together to
fill the gap since the other universes apparently exist literally side by side.
Unfortunately, when the universes contract they collide at the spot where the
original defective universe was destroyed, which was Earth. When two Earths
make contact both of their universes are destroyed. Furthermore, this then
creates larger gaps in the multiverse, which causes more universe to contract,
leading a cycle that ultimately will destroy all realities. However destroying
one of the Earths, as Black Swan did in chapter 1, can prevent the incursion
from destroying the two universes. Tony says they need to investigate the cause
of the collapse and if the chain reaction can be stopped or slowed down. Reed
notes he can rebuild Black Swan’s bomb based on her trigger, which they took
off her when they captured her. Cap then puts a stop to that talk. No one is
blowing up worlds while he is around. Reed is concerned there won’t be time to
deal with this in the normal heroic way as Swan told him that once an Earth
survives one incursion it attracts additional incursions at a rapid rate and when
an incursion begins there are only eight hours from when the other Earth
appears in the sky before the two worlds make contact. Hearing this, Tony makes
the pitch that all options need to be on the table; to which Cap responds,
“What the hell is wrong with you.” Cap says they have a solution: they can just
reassemble the Infinity Gauntlet (The Illuminati have been in possession of the
individual gems since Bendis’ run). As the others leave to get their gems, Reed
stays to talk with T’Challa. Reed feels with infinite worlds on the line this
type of solution should have been tried already thus the two most likely conclusions
are either the problem is inherent to the multiverse and cannot be corrected or
that an outside force is working to destroy all realities. Reed concludes that
while he’s all for trying the moral options first, he’s willing to destroy
worlds if needed. 

Chapter 3 – Cap and Black Bolt recruit Beast to the
Illuminati and he retrieves the Mind Gem, which had been in Professor X’s
possession before he died (again). Reed implants early warning devices into the
Illuminati members’ palms to detect the incursions. Reed then runs the Infinity
Gauntlet plan past Black Swan and she says it will buy them time. Four days
later we have an incursion in Pakistan.
Cap is given the Infinity Gauntlet. Cap forces the other universe backwards but
there is a vibrational feedback so that when Cap ends the incursion all of the
Infinity Gems shatter except the Time Gem, which disappears. Now the Illuminati
meet again. Cap asks Panther to support him before they go in, and T’Challa
vows to do the right thing. Cap again says there will be no world destroying on
his watch. Everyone else disagrees including T’Challa as they vow to protect
their nations, species or family. On Tony’s order, Dr. Strange then mind-wipes
Cap and the Illuminati send him on his way with no memory of being a member so
they can get on with finding ways to destroy worlds.

 Chapter 4 – Reed and T’Challa build anti-matter bombs based
on Black Swan’s technology. Tony starts to build a Dyson Sphere, which can
harness the energy of the sun, which at 2-percent power can destroy a world.
Dr. Strange finds a spell book called the “Blood Bible” which has a spell he
believes can destroy a world but will requires the life force of 40 men and (the
soul of) one righteous man. Just then another incursion occurs over Ellis Island. Reed notes he also has the Ultimate
Nullifier and if fired through vibranium barrel it should destroy a world only
at the cost of the person pulling the trigger. The bombs and Dyson sphere
aren’t ready yet. Beast says they could go to the other Earth to find its
Infinity Gems, which the heroes think is worth trying since the other two
options (The nullifier and Strange’s spell) will both cost one of Illuminati their
life. On the other side of the reality warp, the heroes find Galactus is about
to eat this Earth, which will end the threat. This leads to a debate on if they
should just leave and let this Galactus solve the problem for them or if they
try to save this world from Galactus. The heroes are confronted by Terrax, who
is apparently still the herald of this Galactus and who knows what an incursion
is. He adds Galactus was present at the birth of the universe and is destined
to be present at the end, thus if he senses the universe is going to end
prematurely it is his job to stop it. He adds this will likely to happen to the
heroes’ Earth as well when their Galactus becomes aware of the problem. The
chapter ends with the heroes choosing to fight Terrax instead of leaving.

Chapter 5 – We’re back to Reed and Black Swan having another
Silence of the Lambs moment. She
agrees to help them because she wants to live. Reed and T’Challa release her
from her cell but she has to wear a bomb on her throat. Next we see Terrax is
in an adjoining cell. We flashback to one week ago where Black Bolt defeated
Terrax but the fight lasted long enough for Galactus to eat the world as the
heroes narrowly escaped back to their own reality. Black Swan gives her origin.
She was raised in some mystic temple with doors to other dimensions. Her Earth
was subject to an incursion and the invading earth sent an army to kill
everyone. She went through one of the doors where she found a sisterhood known
as the Black Swans, whom raised her. The Swan dimension has since been
destroyed as well. The Swans believe the birth of a being known as Rabum Alal
is the cause of the universal destruction. Reed asks how to stop the
incursions. Swan says to evacuate the planet and destroy their own Earth and
this will spare their universe. Swan notes she can sense the incursions earlier
than the Illuminati’s warning system and one is due to incur in minutes. This
time it is happening over Latveria.

Chapter 6 – The Illuminati teleport into Latveria with their
antimatter bomb. However this time the incursion sky is blue not red, which
according to Swan is “much worse.” It means a group known as the Mapmakers has
come. The Mapmakers have already destroyed all life on the incursion Earth but
keep a it intact so they can map new universes to conquer when an incursion
occurs. We see the mapmakers in tech-armor and they are fighting Doom and
Kristoff. The Illuminati go to the dead world where Swan says the mapmakers
will detonate the planet before the incursion destroys the two universes, however
if one fragment of that other Earth survives the Mapmakers can find their way
back to this reality so they can devour the new Earth of all it resources as
well. Panther detonates the incursion world with the anti-matter bomb. The
universe returns to normal. The heroes return to Wakanda. When Swan is alone in
her cell she telepathically contacts Terrax. Meanwhile Doom recovers a fragment
of the other Earth.
Critical Thoughts: I
have to admit, I’m surprised by how much I liked this. This certainly presents
a unique threat (at least for Marvel). Now generally I don’t care for
multiverse stories with alternate versions of existing characters but in this
one the details of the multiverses themselves are secondary to the incursion
threat. What I like best about this book is it doesn’t shy away from the fact
that in the Marvel Universe there are plenty of options for destroying a planet
and we discuss some of the most obvious right away: Infinity Gems, Ultimate
Nullifier, Galactus, etc.

The concept is certainly an intriguing take of necessary
evil for the greater good. Do you sacrifice the billions of strangers on
alternate Earth to save the life of not just your own world but the life of
everyone in two universes (which in the Marvel Universe with numerous alien
races some of which have empires that span galaxies is clearly trillions upon
trillions of lifeforms. Now of course in the old days the Fantastic Four alone
would solve a problem like this without even considering killing anyone, but in
modern Marvel generally Cap and Spidey still have that absolute moral sense.
Yes Reed, Beast and maybe Strange could be written to agree with Cap but given
the stakes it is not a stretch for them to have them at least explore all
options, which is where the line is so far in this trade.

Yes in the cons I could easily complain about the Infinity
Gems fracturing. I feel like that just shouldn’t happen, given what we’ve seen
of them in the past. But if it didn’t happen then this story would just be over
and done with; therefore I can see why Hickman made that choice: They are the
most obvious solution first, he had to address them and find a way to take them
off the table if this is the story he wants to tell. Of course with that consideration given, there’s no excuse for the heroes not assembling the Infinity Gems earlier and practicing with them. They come up with this plan with a couple days to spare and gather gems but don’t unite them until the moment of crisis? That does not seem like something that either an expert tactician (like Cap and Panther) or a scientist (like Reed and Tony) would do. What kind of tactician or scientist takes an untested weapon into the field?
Grade A-. Despite
my initial skepticism I liked this enough that I placed an order for the other
trades in this series from my library.