I’ve been a little baffled on where the Incursion storyline is going from here and this issue did a great job of crystallizing it. We actually spend nearly half the issue on another Earth that is attempting to fight off one of the invasion by the world breaking Black Priests and we do it through the Bridge that the 616 Reed Richards built. We observe an Earth very similar to the one of the mainstream Marvel U and one that does not stand up well to the invasion. Jonathan Hickman doesn’t waste time nor mince words showing the efficiency with which these beings can take apart even the strongest, most resourceful of fighters but this universe’s Doctor Doom gives a glimmer of hope before being snuffed out himself. It’s actually somewhat difficult to watch the way it’s framed as it’s more massacre than battle and when we finally see the reactions of the main cast, they seem to agree with that notion. These are intercut with Dr. Strange, who was last seen lamenting his depowered state, seeking a boost in the Sinner’s Market, but the price may be too high for even the Sorcerer Supreme to pay.
If ever there was a title for Simone Bianchi to draw, it would be this arc of New Avengers and, even more specifically, it would be this issue. Combining the bizarre and fantastical elements of Strange’s visits with the gruesome, grisly sci-fi violence of the main story, Bianchi weaves and crafts strange, surreal visuals on all sides of the story, but they’re never hard to follow and always beautiful to behold and that’s also owed to the colors of Adriano Dall’Alpi, who’s splotchy, dark palette is perfect for the strangely macabre story being told.
This is still a very heady book, particularly by mainstream standards, and has only just now begun to make clear sense to me. There are still some things unanswered and some very odd concepts still hanging above the New Avengers. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call them plot holes, and I hope to never get there, but there are still some things that need a reckoning.
This book is still the best that thinkin’ man’s superhero readers can get. And no, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with reading something deliciously simple to just enjoy, but a book that touches on some higher concepts is definitely a standout and this book does that quite well. Its greatest accomplishment, however, has to be integrating all the characters into it organically and seamlessly. A lot of times when we get writers like this telling stories like this, the characters are just window dressing, but this story without these characters would be monumentally and demonstrably different, and I think that bears mention and praise.