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Thursday, July 24, 2014
Everything happens for a reason in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers books. The writer is shaping a momentous, dimension-spanning epic which is nothing short of breathtaking.
The main thrust of Hickman’s Avengers series seems to be the incursions of Earths into other realities, leading to the destruction of one or both of these planets in order to spare the universes from which they came.
With the rate of incursions into our own dimension increasingly steadily, a covert team of Avengers known as the Illuminati (Tony Stark, Reed Richards, Hank McCoy, Dr Strange, the Black Panther and Namor the Sub-Mariner) have been striving to discover new and deadlier ways of saving our Earth from annihilation – no matter the cost.
Having realised that the ultimate sanction could be the decision to sacrifice an alternate Earth in order to safeguard our own, Captain America vowed to intervene, only to have his memory of the Illuminati’s very existence wiped clean by Strange, just one indication of the extreme measures they are prepared to take. Of course, we all know this is only ever going to be a temporary stop-gap, and that sooner or later Cap’s memories will come flooding back…
And just when you think you know where he’s heading with his overall arc, Hickman throws in further complications, whether it be a team of original Avengers from a darker reality than our own, a time-tossed “Iron Man” from the future, or even a runaway planet on a collision course with Earth, there is nothing random here, and it will all eventually come together as disparate elements of his bigger picture.
Of course the downside of this approach is that by reading individual issues, or even a trade collection of shorter storylines, only offers a small segment of the overall narrative, but it is testament to Hickman’s writing prowess that he manages to maintain a momentum throughout the individual beats of his symphony, and keeps his audience coming back for more.
Quite how successful his overall story actually is will only be realised when it ends, and the signs are that this will be sometime next year. In the meantime, it’s a case of enjoying the ride while you still can, because afterwards there’s little likelihood that the Avengers will ever be the same again.