Last issue gave us a glimpse at the consequences of the Illuminati’s actions of mind-wiping Captain America’s knowledge of the group’s existence as well as their plans for dealing with Incursions and, well, we all knew that couldn’t end well. So now we have Cap’s Avengers squaring off with Tony Stark, but before too much of a beating can be handed out, the Time Gem appeared and shattered, sending everyone present into the future (you follow me?). Now Jonathan Hickman gives us a glance of not only what the future holds, but what’s going to happen next, and none of it is good. While Future Hawkeye imparts some secret knowledge to Cap, others get a pep talk from either their futures selves, or future versions of their own namesakes, but Hickman lets us know that very little turns out well for this group, as things stand. The Hawkeye of this time is clearly holding some very strong grudges against Stark and isn’t afraid to express them in very direct ways, and it feels like he’s not just gone crazy. This is an issue that feels strangely brief, despite being a normal comic’s length, but we get some good character moments before we’re shunted off again.
Leinil Yu’s pencils are stellar, bringing this strange, ~40 year world to beautiful life, changing just enough to make it feel genuine without feeling absurd, and that’s a challenge in and of itself. Despite getting very little time to work on establishing the setting, the reader gets a great impression of exactly what this place is and how it operates. Gerry Alanguilan’s inks clarify and calcify, making the issue look incredible, but also helping establish the tone with the deep shadows and visible emotions on the faces of characters, both past and future. Sunny Gho’s colors likewise bring a dark gloom to the bright, shining atmosphere that the visuals seem to be cultivating and expressing. There’s a great juxtaposition between the overall visuals and the tone of doom and anger that pervades the issue.
Moreso than other Hickman storylines, I have no idea where this is going. And it’s more of a problem in this issue because we’re not getting any time to get to know the setting that we’re hurled into at any great length. While that is a part of the comic, it’s still strange that we’re introduced to all of these strange, interesting concepts only to completely abandon them and get teased for future reveals. We have no idea how things got this way and by issue’s end, we’re not likely to ever know nor are we likely to see it again, making great swaths of the issue ring hollow.
The parts of this issue that work work amazingly well. We get some great character moments, regardless of how those characters got here, and, while this may be a lot of unused potential, this issue still has weight and power behind it. It’s also great to, much like during the glorious Infinity event, see a tie-in that requires none of the core book to enjoy nor understand. If you have no interest in Original Sin, but still love reading Hickman’s Avengers, feel free to pick this one up.