By Jonathan Hickman and Simone Bianchi
You know what’s the best thing about this issue? The cover is very misleading. It’s advertised as a tie-in to Inhumanity, even though it kind of isn’t. More often than not, tie-ins bring down the quality of a book. Avengers and New Avengers didn’t suffer that fate during Infinity but that’s more because those issues acted as actual chapters to the story. The Inhumanity stuff has been a drag, and they all have the same bland story, so it’s nice to see Hickman go in another direction.
This issue goes back and forth, between our heroes in the good ol’ 616, and a new version of the Illuminati located on Earth-20399. This sounds dumb, but Hickman plays it perfectly by giving you a reason to care when “planet incursions” occur. It’s very compelling to see these two versions play off of each other and fight for their very existence. Hickman clearly sets up his intentions after Infinity and ever somehow ties it in to his run on Fantastic Four. This issue is a huge payoff for anybody that has read all of his Marvel work.
The only thing holding this issue back is the art. Yuck. What a mess. Mike Deodato was killing it on New Avengers, but Bianchi is off to a rough start. His pencils are frequently sloppy and unclear to the point where you’ll wonder if you need a new eyeglass prescription. The Black Priests are rendered quite well and that’s as far as the positives go. Our heroes on both Earths are disordered and carelessly put together. When you can’t even competently show off the main characters, that’s a problem.
Hickman’s incredible story is the saving grace of this issue. The art is very ugly and will sometimes pull you out of the story. Fortunately there’s enough sweet Hickman goodness to warrant the price of admission.