“New Avengers” #6 from Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting forces the Illuminati into a situation they cannot undo as the latest incursion threatening reality materializes above Latveria. Naturally, an incursion in Latveria means Victor Von Doom has to get involved. These Illuminati are even deeper in drama, but not in a good way.
This latest incursion is different from others. Things get blue — both in the color of the sky and the invading world. Hickman uses this new development to force the team into action and back them into a corner where the only action is one they had hoped to avoid. Hickman’s take on the Illuminati is clinical and cold. Beast provides some tongue-in-cheek humor, but when Iron Man is relied upon to be the gateway character of a team that features haughty and aloof characters like Namor, Stephen Strange, Black Bolt and Reed Richards, characterization isn’t going to be the title’s strength. Hickman is moving pieces across the board and twisting plots and subplots into complex stories.
Epting’s art has a clinical, technically sound finish to it that works well for the portions of “New Avengers” #6 where the Illuminati are all standing around jawing. He employs Kirbyesque design sensibilities for the antimatter injection system and its trigger, adding instant comic book science fiction credibility. When the action rolls in with the invading Mapmakers Epting’s work becomes more kinetic, empowering Doom as he attempts to defend his country. Epting’s drawn Doom a time or three before and makes a strong case for more Doctor Doom with his powerful and stunning depiction of the Latverian ruler in this issue. Frank D’Armata’s moody coloring is superb in “New Avengers” #6, setting the tone with blacks, whites and grays with hints of yellow and red early on. When other colors develop into the story, like the green of Doctor Doom’s cloak or the blue incursion, it appears surreal and really pops the visuals of the story from waking memory to reality.
This title has been my least favorite of the Avengers lineup in Marvel NOW! as it is all doom (not always Victor Von) and gloom. With the tendrils from this story starting to reach out into other titles and wrap around non-Illuminati characters, however, I’m willing to stick around a little longer. Hickman is known for playing the long game and there is definitely a set of long-range plans in place as “New Avengers” #6 begins to show Hickman’s hand, just a little bit.