Review: Avengers #41

Because I’m anticipating Secret Wars a whole lot, I decided to read one of the books leading up to it. I’m going to try to remain Spoiler-free, but some elements may be considered spoilers due to the nature of the story.

Avengers41AVENGERS #41

JONATHAN HICKMAN (W)
MIKE DEODATO (A)
Cover by BRYAN HITCH*
VARIANT COVER BY PHIL NOTO
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Solicitation:

IN 3 MONTHS…TIME RUNS OUT!

Review:

This issue is leading into Secret Wars very directly. It also focuses very closely on the villains, from opening with the Ultimate universe’s Reed Richards, who has perfected a way to save his Earth from the incursions that threaten each alternate universe, to the Cabal, the villainous equivalent of the Illuminati. Story-wise, Hickman writes the villains as less out to dominate a situation but rather as going for survival. The Reed Richards is revealed as duplicitous, never fully recovering from the turn towards insanity/megalomania/villainy that did so much damage to the Ultimate Earth, but is the sole defender that Earth has against the incursions. The dangerous part of the building story is the statement from both that Reed and the “mainstream” Reed Richards is that for some reason, now less than two dozen alternate Earths remaining. From what we’re seeing coming out about Secret Wars, most of these are the ones that are going to make it into Battleworld.

Avengers41-001Mike Deodato’s art has evolved over the years from the 1990s stereotype that might have been best remembered on his Wonder Woman run and is now much more grounded, although he still draws characters as if their costumes are painted on. When he foregoes contours and renders only shadows, his artwork looks its best. In this issue, the best pages are those with the Cabal on the “blue” Earth, as the monotone coloring (with a few highlights) brings out Deodato’s shading to its best.

As a stand alone issue, this is very confusing, especially if you haven’t read any of the hype about Secret Wars. It also really hinges on knowing so much of the back story about the incursions, the Illuminati, and the Ultimate Universe. Hickman tries to have characters bring us up to date, and does not invoke the text summary page that has become so popular nowadays, especially with Marvel. Instead we get visual recreations of past events that have led up to here, but that actually is more annoying, as it doesn’t give context or timing. I do find myself very relieved that Free Comic Book Day will see a comic that will set the stage for Secret Wars, because with subplots that take this long to develop, it’s going to be needed.