Monday, 26 January 2015

Avengers Vol.2: The Last White Event (Marvel NOW!) Review

Avengers Vol. 2: The Last White Event (Marvel NOW!)

Even The Adams Family gets a gritty
reboot.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artists: Dustin Weaver and Mike Deodato

Collects: Avengers #7-11 (mmm… slurpies…)

Background:

In the last volume, the Avengers ran into Ex Nihilo, a naked guy with horns and a god-complex. He was busy sending machines called “origin bombs”- devices which change areas and their inhabitants into something more “advanced”. The team came back with Nihilo’s “Adam”, a man who calls himself Nightshade. Nightshade is convinced that something called “the system” is broken and that “the last white event” is coming to earth.

Yep, that’s a LOT of quotation marks.

Review:

While he was in the shower, the Avengers
stole his clothes.
The way I understand it, Hickman is known for telling long stories. The kind that take up multiple volumes and cross over more than one massive event. Heading all three major Avengers books, he’s kinda’ had total control of the Marvel universe since the beginning of Marvel NOW!. As such, The Last White Event reads very much like a cog in the machine- essentially useless on its own, but not something you’d want to read Avengers or the massive Infinity event without.

So the last white event hits earth and has granted someone the Starbrand- a tattoo that allows its bearer to destroy entire planets.

That someone is Kevin Conner- a relative nobody at his college thrust into the new planetary crisis. When that thrust comes from him accidently destroying said college and everyone in it.

It sounds like a simple story; but that’s something I have to admire about Hickman; he can take a plot that some writers would finish in five issue and add so much depth and detail to it that even though his version of the same story might be fifteen issues longer, it certainly doesn’t feel dragged out.

Hickman also does an admirable job at handling such a massive cast of characters. The previous volume, Avengers World gave us a roster of 17 characters as opposed to the traditional 5-8 heroes. This should be a daunting task- it would be easy to make this book all about the movie roster and delegate the other 12 characters to the B-team. Somehow, though, Hickman avoids this; giving us a trade paperback that uses all characters to the point where none of them feel like they’re just there.

Therein, though, lies the problem with this trade; by being equally about everyone, it somehow ends up being about no one. Thanks to that, we have a story that’s event-driven rather than character-driven. You have to wonder, therefore, if this story couldn’t have been served equally well by the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Fantastic Four or even the X-Men (kidding, of course, Marvel doesn’t own the film rights to the last two). In fact, does Captain America need to be involved at all?

"My abs and I are here to dust your clock!"
A word of warning, also, to new readers; this isn’t a trade that you can read on its own. Not only do you need to read the first volume, but there won’t be a satisfactory end to the series unless you buy the Infinity collection (and that costs around $50 in paperback). So if you just want a taste of the Avengers, best not go to Hickman’s books.

Art here is great, though. Kevin Conner is drawn in a way that perfectly portrays the power contained in a body that looks so feeble otherwise. Weaver and Deodato also do a great job of portraying the strange events spiralling out of the origin bombs, which continue to become more and more interesting.

The Last White Event should not be read on its own, but taken with the whole, it’s an entertaining chapter in a larger saga. It gets a three and a half out of five quotation marks.

*** ½

+ Hickman shares the spotlight amongst characters.

+ Doesn’t feel dragged out.

- Hardly a character-driven story.

- Not recommended unless you want to commit to Avengers.

Alternate Option: Avengers: Avengers World

Start with this.