“THE NIGHT BEFORE THE WORLD ENDED” No more bloodshed. To save their nations, the proud Black Panther and the arrogant Namor have sued for peace. As members of the Illuminati, the secret organization made up of the Marvel Universe’s most powerful heroes, they must work together to stop the extinction of the entire universe! But are their amends too little too late? There’s no turning back for the Illuminati after this issue – and they’ll pay the price for their sins.
Stepping in as pencilist, artist Rags Morales breathes some new life into this somewhat stagnant title in New Avengers #16. As the team tries to figure out what to do with Black Swan, Namor and Black Panther put their differences aside to find a solution. T’Challa has been using the bridge to peer into worlds across the multiverse to see how these alternate Earths have fallen and shows Namor his findings. The issue follows events on Earth-4,290,0001, as a very novel version of the 616 Illuminati deals with their own impending destruction. This peculiar band of heroes finds a new way to stop the incursion and the onslaught of Sidera Maris that bears down on their world, ending in a dramatic showdown that offers hope for other Earths.
While I’ve been critical of the recent repetition of this storyline, watching the team watch other worlds from afar, Hickman strikes a decisive note in this issue. The heroes of the parallel Earth prove intriguing with their unique power sets and setting. They evoke familiar tropes and design elements of DC and Marvel characters alike, making for an effective balance of the alien and familiar. Their battle at the incursion site is exciting and visually interesting, and more than makes up for some of the repetitive action sequences of the last few issues. This is due largely in part to Morales’ artwork, and the strength of his pacing and storytelling. His character designs, especially for Sun God, Rider and Boundless, are suitably otherworldly, making strong use of Hickman’s eerie tone and scripting. Colorist Martin’s reliance on cool blues and bold reds make for strong color choices throughout.
After a weak few issues, New Avengers #16 comes out strong. It moves the title back on track with the introduction of an intriguing cast of alternate heroes and brings a sense of momentum where this book has been sorely lacking. Definitely worth a read.