I had a feeling that we hadn’t seen the last of Ex Nihilo. When we last left him on Mars in his Garden, I thought that things ended a bit too easily against Captain Universe. Now my thoughts are confirmed as the mad builder makes his return in the latest issue of ‘Avengers’.
In the last issue, Captain America and Iron Man led a team to the site where the Starbrand was detected to discover Kevin Connor and his newly acquired plethora of power. After a skirmish to subdue the super-powered student, Nightmask takes Kevin to Mars to seek some answers about the irregular White Event from his father, Ex Nihilo.
Now, in this most recent issue of Avengers, the pair is face to face with Ex Nihilo and Abyss, who reveal that the pods that they sent to Earth in their initial attack had more purpose than the Avengers first anticipated. Essentially, they are meant to give the Earth a mind of it’s own, so now Starbrand and Nightmask go back down to Earth to try and stop it. But they’re met by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, who see that Adam and Kevin are causing more damage than they intend to.
I’ve been praising Jonathan for months now because of all the details that he’s including in this massive storyline. After taking a few issues to introduce the new members of the team, I now see that there were no wasted motions in those issues either. At the time, I saw them as a break from this whole Ex Nihilo business, but in actuality, the events in those issues were planting seeds for his master plan, which really culminates here. Hickman really is amazing at planning out his stories and this issue really highlights that nearly superhuman ability that he possesses to handle this enormous story.
Not only does the writing impress me, but also I love the art from Dustin Weaver, Mike Deodato, and Justin Ponsor. They really play with their panels in such visually stimulating ways. In the beginning of the issue, it starts out fairly standard and straightforward, but then once the pace picks up and the battle begins, we get some more wild angles and bright colors dragging our eyes around the page. The entire creative team behind this book is just seriously one of the best in the business today.
However, there was one thing that jumped out to me as peculiar. There was a certain decision made by the Avengers that didn’t seem like it would really fly with all of them, but somehow it did. It involves the final page, so I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that after the events of ‘World War Hulk’, I didn’t think that Steve, Tony, Bruce, and company would come close to pulling something like that again. Pair the act with the last words in the story, my heart just ached because of the way that things worked out.
I mean, it’s not really a huge issue in terms of this story. This story has been more than pretty great, but this one thing might affect continuity slightly and keeping in line with continuity is a very important part of storytelling. Considering what’s happened in past stories that came before this one and how much characters have evolved, I just question that particular decision by Hickman. I still consider his work to be extremely well done and I’ll definitely still be sticking around, but the ending is going to bother me for a little bit. I really hope this matter gets addressed somewhere down the line, and after seeing what has unfolded in these nine issues already, I think that it will.
Written by JONATHAN HICKMAN
Art by DUSTIN WEAVER, MIKE DEODATO, & JUSTIN PONSOR