I actually read this comic many months ago, but haven’t had a chance to write the review now. Well, the epic Incursions Arc reaches a boiling point and this is certainly the height of the whole thing. It’s technically still going on to an extent, but the team has had enough of it all so this will probably be the final true battle revolving around it. The series has been leading up to this moment with some time and even survived various tie-in issues to Infinity in order to get here. Without further ado, let’s discuss this title.
The collection was quite large as it was longer than that of a normal trade paperback, but the majority of the issues were about the big confrontation with the homage to the Justice League. Earth was coming under attack from another Incursion. If you don’t recall what that means, it essentially refers to the phenomenon of two Earths starting to exist in the same place. If they collide for even an instant, then both planets die along with the Solar System. The only way to prevent this is to destroy the other Earth. For decades, many planets tried to find another way around this, but no such way was found. This has been occurring for all of eternity with numerous versions of the Avengers so the modern day ones have finally acknowledged that they don’t think it is possible to avoid this fate. Their only choices now are to simply accept their destruction or to destroy the other Earth to spare their own. The team has many debates about that, but at least they’ve been lucky with the fact that the other Earths have been uninhabited..until now.
The Earth that appeared this time is home to the Justice League. Their Earth is the only one besides the 616 (Marvel’s main Universe) Earth to have survived multiple Incursions to live til this point. Both Earths are undefeated, but only one planet can walk away from this one alive. The New Avengers roster is fairly stacked at this point (Since it is really the Illuminati and not the New Avengers per say) since they have Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Namor, Hulk, Black Panther, Black Bolt, Beast and Mr. Fantastic on their side. However, the Justice League team has all of their signature members as well. One factor that helps the Avengers not get completely decimated in the opening seconds is that fate was not kind to DC’s team. When their Earth first appears, it happens immediately after the League had just finished fighting off another Earth. Dealing with one Incursion is already tough, but two of them in a row? The League is exhausted before the fight with the Avengers has even begun. (The previous Incursion had them fight against power mages who had previously wrecked the Illuminati with ease when it was just a few of them. The Justice League had to take on dozens of them in a planet wide invasion, but they pulled through.)
That was a mouthful, but some backstory is pretty important to fully appreciate the stakes. It is as much of a battle of morals as it is physically. The Avengers have been skirting the issue of whether or not they would pull the trigger and decide to essentially destroy a whole planet of innocent people in order to save their own skins and that of the planet’s. They would be choosing to swap their own lives for others, thus saying that theirs are more important. It’s a very dicey conundrum and one that is easily seen as morally wrong, but still hard to stop. After all, you’ll naturally be tempted to save your friends and family over total strangers. In the end, this is that situation, but on a grand scale. The fact that it is so grand also makes the whole thing very impersonal as it all becomes a lot of statistics instead of lives.
In the end, The Avengers mostly make the right call although they weren’t as decisive as I would have liked. They decide not to destroy the planet, but they also don’t decide to destroy the device. One by one they all simply say that they can’t do it and leave the machine there so it was easy for someone to walk up and press the button anyway. Hopefully they will be more alert next time, but it doesn’t change the fact that they just let an entire planet blow up on their watch. This was definitely not their greatest moment and will be something that they likely won’t want to share anytime soon.
The tensions with Black Panther and Namor have escalated as well. Black Panther now knows that Namor was responsible for the massacre in Wakanda and having a planetary genocide to add to that rap sheet doesn’t help matters either. It’ll be tough to get to Namor now though since the graphic novel ends with the Sub Mariner forming his own Cabal. The group is fairly powerful with heavy weights like Thanos, Terrax, and the mysterious lady from another dimension in their ranks. If necessary, this group could likely defeat the Illuminati and with ease I might add.
The author likes his use of synergy and repetition, but with a twist. For example, the speech that Namor gives at the end is the same one that Mr. Fantastic gave to the heroes at the beginning. It’s the exact same dialogue word for word, but the words have been twisted thanks to the context of how Namor is saying it all. It was definitely a solid piece of writing and the whole collection is quite good with that. There are no poorly written scenes in the entirety of the collection and a lot of plots are juggled around. Once you start reading this saga, you really can’t put the book down. The saga even has its own lore and universe built to support it without interfering with the rest of the Marvel Universe. This story is essentially taking place in a vacuum. It doesn’t effect the other titles, but you can still feel that the stakes are real. For example, I like all of the original characters that were added for this event.
Black Swan is the main one and she gives the heroes the various ideas for how to destroy worlds. She’s the dark voice urging them to give in and just destroy their obstacles. Acting as a bad influence to the team, she tends to succeed in breaking them all down slowly but surely. Her powers are vague, but she seems to be quite powerful. Her standard looking energy attacks are deadlier than they appear to be. She also got an origin story towards the end of the saga, which shed some light on her motivations, but she’s still an odd character. At the very least none of the factions should trust her.
All right, let’s talk about the Justice League. They were easily the best characters in the comic and I was rooting for them right from the start. It’s hard not to since they appear to be completely heroic and just want to protect their planet. From their side of things, the Avengers just look underhanded. As soon as the Justice League turned their backs, Namor threw his spear into one of their members. Sure, the Illuminati didn’t think that Namor would be that corrupt, but the whole thing is on them. The Justice League tried for a peaceful solution, but this destroyed negotiations so they decided to fight. As it stands, Superman was completely decimating the Avengers. (Not even going to bother with code-names) The Justice League did a great job of showing that unity and experience can defeat individually powerful fighters any time.
While they relied on heroism and good ole fashioned team-work, the Avengers had their Namor traitor and Dr. Strange, who decided to sacrifice his soul to get help from a demon. That did give him a massive power boost and ultimately it is what turned the tides against the Justice League, but it was definitely a very dicey decision. The Avengers had to pull out all of the stops for this fight. It was great to see Green Lantern, The Flash, Batman, and Superman in a Marvel comic. There was even a Martian Manhunter member although I don’t recall if there was a Wonder Woman fighter in the group. I was on Team DC as expected, but even the Marvel fans reading this may side with them given the circumstances. I hope to see them all again soon.
Even if I was rooting against them, the Illuminati members are all rather solid as well. This is not counting Namor of course as he is just another petty villain in the end. Mr. Fantastic was a bit out of character during some points as he was overly protective and making quite a lot of threats. It seems like this arc started to slowly corrupt him. Iron-Man and Beast retained their composure and were fairly in character even if there wasn’t a lot of opportunity for Iron Man to crack jokes. Black Bolt didn’t say much, (Shocker) but he also made the right calls in the end. Hulk was really just here to fight and get stomped by Superman. It’s a solid cast, but with the team fractured and more Incursions to come, what will they do? They have essentially decided to just let Earth die and I believe that all of this ends up tying into Secret Wars so maybe there won’t need to be much of a conclusion in the series.
It almost goes without saying that the art is excellent for this collection. It’s some of Marvel’s best work in that area and can hold its own against the DC powerhouses. As a comic, this one is also one of the best titles out there. This New Avengers run may be the best Avengers arc that I’ve read. Currently, I’d say that the best Marvel arcs are Infinity Gauntlet, Civil War, and X-Sanction. We can’t forget Secret Wars and World War Hulk either, although while I love that final arc, it is a bit of a step down from some of the others. If I had to rank them all (Counting tie-in issues that I’ve read for them) It would go: Infinity Gauntlet>Secret Wars>Civil War> New Avenger Incursions> X-Sanction> World War Hulk. As of now, I haven’t read much of the other big Marvel events like AVX, the new Secret Wars, or the new Infinity. The big X-Men arcs are solid as well, but none of them even come close to ranking up there at this point in time. There are probably other arcs around that I’m not thinking of at the moment, but Marvel does have a ton of them in the lineup so it would take forever if I was actually listing all of them.
Marvel’s events have been consistently good even if some of the later ones look a little anticlimactic. The new Secret Wars always looked rather boring from what I’ve seen and the new Infinity seems like the Infinity Gauntlet, but on a much smaller scale. Luckily, tie-ins help to stretch out the events. Infinity should have good fights though so hopefully Secret Wars threw some in there as well. Plus, if it does tie in to a lot of the material from this series, then that will help bump it up quite a bit. Personally, I think Secret Invasion looks like an epic arc with all the intrigue of who is turned and who isn’t, but I know that the comic doesn’t have the greatest reputation so it’ll be interesting to see how that one is someday. I don’t know what big Marvel event is coming up next, but I’ve been rather out of touch with the comics lately so I’ll work on getting a little more involved again.
Overall, This is definitely a comic that I highly recommend to all comic readers. Even if you haven’t read the previous volumes yet, you’ll be able to quickly get into the situation thanks to the recap at the beginning and the fact that the heroes will remind you a few times. This comic is very dialogue heavy, but also has a lot of action so it makes for a good mix. The comic should take you a little while to read as a result. The highlight is definitely the fight with the Justice League. While the League should have won even if they were already exhausted, out of energy, and got hit by a sucker punch at the start, it was still a good fight. It’ll be tough for this comic to be surpassed by other Marvel comics with how solid this was. It’s hard to imagine another event being this engaging at the moment either.