“New Avengers” #29 continues the most ambitious piece of long-form storytelling ever attempted in mainstream comics and, though the action is a bit more low key than the previous few issues, it drops some heavy information and a big time reveal. Hickman’s entire “New Avengers” run has been full of hard choices and the actions of brilliant but flawed men trying to do their best for the betterment of the universe. T’Challa had told the Illuminati that they would regret the decision to come together and rule in secret and, though Earth would not be around had they not, their actions have also damned the remaining beings of this reality that much quicker.
Jonathan Hickman slows down the breakneck action after the most recent incursion to let Reed Richards get all the major players on the same page regarding the end of the multiverse. Richards reveals that there are less than 25 Earths left and that 616 will be safe until the final two universes collide with one another, which is the big set up for the upcoming “Secret Wars” event. What most of the characters fail to grasp is that there’s no avoiding it, and Richards contemplates one of the most tragic losses of this entire scenario: at some point during the last eight months, Reed asked his son Franklin to help save everything and it cost his son his life. In his “Fantastic Four” run, Hickman wrote very early on about this cost of solving everything, and that holds too true in this moment.
The plot doesn’t allow for anyone to really mourn the loss of Namor, which is mostly surprising but for the fact that Susan Richards is on panel. It seems odd that Hickman doesn’t give her time to contemplate this loss. No one yet knows if this was a heroic sacrifice or the result of a Shakeperean backstabbing, but they do know that they just watched the planet on which Namor was located explode. It seems a bit off that the story pushes forward so quickly.
The title of Marvel’s universe-ending 2015 summer event also makes some more sense as Yellowjacket returns from the timestream with the Ivory Kings in tow. Though their faces are not recognizable, their names sure are and it’s a great tease for the last few issues of this story. That they are the last hope the universe has for survival is a good cliffhanger for next month.
The talented Kev Walker provides art and, though it’s great work, it really does not feel like it fits the story Hickman is telling. Walker’s characters are cartoony and almost loveable and there is certainly neither of those things in Hickman’s script. Walker’s Sunspot character model is curiously older than he seems to be. He does fantastic action sequences, and most of the issue is talking heads; his characters are almost straining against the normalcy of the staging at each turn and Yellowjacket’s arrival, the high action point of the book, shows that Walker is ready to let his art cut loose, but it unfortunately happens at the end of the book. It’s a very curious editorial choice to put him on at this late stage and on a quiet issue such as this.
Overall, this is yet another enthralling piece of a large puzzle. With the end in sight, every second and every page matters and the creative teams are doing their best to make the most of that time before it runs out.