I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Saturday, January 26, 2013

New Avengers #2

New Avengers #2 continues to follow Black Panther in his struggle to save the Earth(s) from complete and utter destruction while working with the Illuminati, a group of puppet-masters whose decisions the Panther does not agree with. In this issue we find out just how serious the problem introduced in issue one is, a chain reaction of planetary destruction that not only threatens our planet - it threatens our universe and every other universe.

When I read the first issues I was incredibly happy that this story is being told from Black Panther's standpoint. My fear for the second issue was that we would see things from the standpoint of one of the other Illuminati, perhaps Mister Fantastic. Luckily, the book is still a Black Panther story with the Illuminati as his backup band. I'd be happier to find that Marvel was changing the title of the book to Black Panther, that they have no fear that a black lead character will hurt sales, and that they want to make this change retroactive for the first two issues, but I'm not holding my breath. I'll settle for Marvel telling an important Black Panther story from beginning to end.

While this is certainly a book centered around Black Panther, I was happy to see that Jonathan Hickman was able to incorporate his homeboy Mister Fantastic into a really interesting explanation of the planetary collapse theory that the Illuminati are now facing. It was exactly what Hickman does best - explaining comic book science in a way that is accessible and not heavy handed. This is not the author explaining the plot. It is Reed Richards being Reed Richards, borrowing the spotlight from Black Panther only momentarily in order to get the Illuminati (and the readers) on the same page.

Hickman gives his Illuminati a couple of quests for the next couple of issues, but more interesting is a theme that was introduced in this issue. In response to the first issue, many readers were wondering why Black Panther was able to work with Namor despite the destruction of Wakanda at his hands during Avengers vs. X-Men and the current war between Wakanda and Atlantis. In the second issue, this issue is addressed and not lightly. When this is all over, Black Panther wants to kill Namor. Plain and simple.

New Avengers is extremely accessible for a heady story that references a long history of conflict in the Marvel Universe. Slowly, Hickman is bringing the new reader up to date with explanations of who the Illuminati are, what they have done, and what their continuing motives are. If there is anything negative I have to say, it is that I wish Hickman's sister title Avengers were nearly as good as New Avengers. Here's to hoping that the quality of Avengers catches up to New Avengers, because if they're going to have consistent crossovers like Fantastic Four and FF, I don't want to be annoyed.

Buy this book. Do it because it's a great story. Also, buy it in order to invest in Marvel's black comic book characters. They need help that the editors, writers and artists won't give on their own. They need the help that only money can buy.

I've syndicated this review at Examiner. You can read it here. If you click on it a few times, spend some time there, or navigate to a new page, I might get some money. But I'm only asking that of you if you liked reading the article here and want to show your appreciation.

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