Captain Britain joins the remnants of the Illuminati in “New Avengers” #25, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Kev Walker. While the notion of the Captain Britain Corps and the denizens of Otherworld was recently posited in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man” #7, it appears that the cumulative effects of the Incursions and the lapsed seven months (yet to happen in the larger Marvel Universe, but) before this issue have taken its toll on the Captain Britain Corps and made the Illuminati worthy of significant attention.
The “In 7 Months. . . Time Runs Out!” banner across the top of this issue indicates the progressing countdown of the timeline “New Avengers” #25 is sitting upon. While last issue set focus on Thanos’ cabal that Namor is working with to destroy worlds and prevent Incursions, this issue checks in with the remnants of the Illuminati as they try to crack into Tony Stark’s files. Hickman has been breaking the characters down bit by bit throughout this series, but in this particular comic book, it is quite apparent that the members of the clandestine clique are at their collective wits’ end, as Hickman writes believable, honestly desperate characters. The crux of the tale, however, rotates around Susan Richards’ interrogation of Amadeus Cho.
Captured by S.H.I.E.L.D., Cho is pummeled with questions that Richards hopes will lead to the rest of the Illuminati. Hickman illustrates the camaraderie the Illuminati cling to, the desperation they operate within and the cause that just seems to continue to slip away from them. Hank McCoy, Doc Green, Reed Richards and Captain Britain continue on, but Hickman makes it quite clear their cause may be in vain.
Reed and Captain Britain cannot be bothered to shave and their bushy, scraggly beards punctuate artist Kev Walker’s future-worn interpretations of these characters. In some spots, his artwork is finely detailed and very reminiscent of Jim Cheung, but Walker maintains his style throughout, adding dynamic angles and lighting to significant effect throughout “New Avengers” #25. Walker focuses so much on the characters, the sparse settings frequently give way to colored backgrounds or gradients. Detailed when they need to be the backgrounds and settings showcase color-heavy details in the computer screens and other communications effects, generated by colorists Frank Martin and David Curiel as well as letterer Joe Caramagna.
Placing such a heavy focus on the characters and their conversations gives “New Avengers” #25 the appearance of not doing much, but this comic book marks significant time in the near future, and features strong storytelling from Walker, like when Susan Richards releases Amadeus Cho’s manacles. At the end of the issue, seven months from now, the Illuminati are stretched thin, reeling and struggling with their purpose. This is exactly where Hickman wants them and this predicament is what makes them the most engaging they’ve been in a long time. While it seems like not much happens, “New Avengers” #25 feels like a critical issue as the Illuminati are left to contemplate their future beyond this seven-month gap.