As the Avengers line of comics inches closer to “Secret Wars,” the lines begin to blur between the various titles launched during Jonathan Hickman’s tenure as Avengers mastermind. Such is the case in “Avengers World” #18, written by Frank Barbiere and drawn by Marco Checchetto. In a chapter titled “Before Time Runs Out: Part Two,” the creative team delivers parallel tales between Roberto da Costa and Namor McKenzie.
The issue opens with an Incursion upon yet another parallel Earth but, in this instance, the events of the Incursions are less focused on the Illuminati’s actions to halt or avoid them and more on the Cabal’s efforts to ensure the Incursions stay away from the 616 Marvel Universe. Barbiere makes the story personal and interprets the “World” portion of this title to mean the orbit of one character’s life as he watches his beliefs crumble under the weight of his own actions. Namor is as tortured as ever but, through his personal agony, his pride pushes him forward. The Sub-Mariner is not a very likeable character right now, given his actions in “New Avengers” and the other Avengers titles, but Barbiere makes him very sympathetic in “Avengers World” #18.
Paralleling the collapse of Namor’s world, Barbiere gives readers the expansion of Roberto da Costa’s world. Returning to his corporation, da Costa (also known as Sunspot) pushes beyond what he sees to impart his beliefs and plans on a larger sphere of influence. Barbiere provides some insight and payoff for the A.I.M. storyline and, in doing so, makes Sunspot as relatable as Namor. In executing this maneuver, the writer sells me on two characters I’ve never really been a big fan of.
Some other Avengers sneak into the issue and Checchetto draws each and every character with zest and energy. Sunspot’s father is as well-conceived as Sunspot himself, despite the elder da Costa never really doing much more than walking down a hallway and dropping advice on his son. When the main characters are in action — Namor, Sunspot, Starbrand, Proxima Midnight — Checchetto draws the consummate version of each, beckoning the reader ever closer to the page and inviting them to forget they ever saw the characters drawn by anyone else.
The artist’s storytelling is dynamic and clean. His style bears influences of Deodato and Cheung but makes everything his own. Colorist Andres Mossa brings mood and emotion, passionate orange hues and lonesome, chilly blue shading. When a scene calls for effects, explosions or electricity flowing through bodies, the visuals are every bit as much Mossa as Checchetto. Letterer Joe Caramagna has his work cut out for him, balancing oodles of word balloons around a bunch of people in a board room as da Costa explains his plan. Later in the issue, sound effects and exclamations come into play, illustrating Caramagna’s dynamic diversity and intuitive selection, such as the transparent (but not invisible) “SMASH” as Sunspot leaps out the window.
“Avengers World” #18 is a formality of a label. Instead, this comic could just as easily be called “Incursions and Repercussions” and the effect would be the same. As mentioned previously, the boundaries between “New Avengers,” “Avengers” and “Avengers World” are disintegrating, which makes a fine case for Superman-like numbering to guide readers through the labyrinth of Avengers adventures as Incursions begin to give way to the set-up for “Secret Wars.” In this case, however, Barbiere and Checchetto give readers a digestible, grippingly-entertaining and easy-to-comprehend chunk of the tale between worlds, as the space between universes gets ever thinner.