The Illuminati has the power to destroy a planet at their whim. This was such a horrific, terrifying secret that they elected, unilaterally, to mindwipe Captain America when he objected to it. His recent memory recovery has not slowed the inevitable march toward a horrible decision one iota. In this issue, Jonathan Hickman gives us the fallout both from the previous issue in THIS series and a previous issue of AVENGERS with Tony Stark nursing his wounds while answering the call to action. And what a call it is. At last the incursion with the planet of the ultra-noble Great Society (who look somehow familiar…) occurs, as does one of the most fascinating conversations on morality and consequence that I’ve ever read in ANY medium. Bruce Banner’s conversation with Hank McCoy stands as an issue, and series, highlight. Both these men are outsiders in the sense that Banner only recently joined, and McCoy was brought in as a substitute for a previous Illuminati member, and both of them have such an insightful outlook on how the group, and the proposed plan, operate.
Valerio Schiti is BACK! After an absolutely stellar break into Marvel comics on the linework of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, and a fantastic continuation as a fill-in on MIGHTY AVENGERS, Schitti brings his incredible visual flair to one of Marvel’s top titles. And he fits right in, his interesting, subtly new takes on well established, entrenched characters (I absolutely LOVE his Namor) is both refreshing and recognizable. The facial expressions, especially, help build upon both the incredible tension and dread that all culminates in the issue’s end. Veteran colorist Frank Martin hits the grim, desperate tone of the title to a tee. His panels are drab and dark where they need to be, but wild and fearfully uncontrolled when we get to the actual incursion. He sets the tone perfectly in every panel.
The battle between these two factions has been teased ever since Panther and Namor saw the near future in the Bridge, and this issue is the BIGGEST tease yet. I’m not saying I expect Hickman to rush into anything, I like that he takes his time, but at this point he’s almost making fun of the fact that fans have been aching to see the Illuminati take on the Not-Justice League/Society at this point.
Though we have another wait ahead of us, this one is more bearable than it previously has been. The last two covers have hinted at what’s to come, but the next issue promises to deliver on it and whether it does or not, this is still a very, very great issue. We get more character insights, there’s a development with Black Swan and Maximus that I didn’t even have time to mention that spells “uh-oh” no matter HOW you look at it, and the conversation between the Avengers and the Society is pure, old-school sci-fi greatness.