Have you heard the exciting news? That’s right, dear readers—Hawkeye 13 is finally coming out! It’s been nearly four months since we saw any of the adventures of either of the Hawkeyes (well, Clint’s been occupied in Avengers, but you know what I mean), so this is especially exciting. Besides Hawkeye, we’ll be looking at three of the Infinity tie-in comics as well: Avengers 21, Avengers Assemble 20, and New Avengers 11!
Avengers 20 fits right in between the events of Infinity 3 and Infinity 4, as it recaps the escape of Captain Marvel’s team from the Builder ship, details the meeting of the Creator beings where Ex Nihilo declares the Builders will rule them no longer, and leads into the meeting of the Galactic Council where Captain America proposes a parley with the Builder holding Hala (the Kree homeworld), in order to surrender to them. But in Infinity 4, we saw that the declaration of surrender was yet another brilliant ruse, as Cap sent Thor down as the single diplomat to the parley. The Builders, in their arrogance, decided to universally broadcast what they thought to be the surrender of the rebellious forces—but instead were met with the resounding defeat of the Builder on Hala and the rising up of the Kree, led by Thor.
The issue begins on the Shi’ar flagship, where Ex Nihilo asks when was the last time Cap saw a miracle—referring to his hope for the recovery of Captain Universe, still comatose. We shift to Hala, where we learn that after Thor’s defeat of the Builder, the Kree Supreme Intelligence declared the victory irrelevant, and that their continued surrender would best ensure their survival. Ronan disagreed, smashing a piece of the Intelligence’s tank with his hammer, and led the Annihilators off to join the Galactic Council’s forces. The Council goes on to try to liberate more worlds, and does succeed on some, but outright fails on others. In desperation, they decide to open the gateway to the Negative Zone, releasing the Annihilation Wave. But the Builders turn the Wave on itself, causing the drones to attack and devour each other. Meanwhile, the Ex Nihili have all gathered to try to wake Captain Universe, and by the combination of their energies manage to do so. She heads off to confront the Builders, and asks them why they’re trying to destroy worlds. The Builder tells her all the universes are dying, and destroying the axis point (Earth) could save them all. She replies, “Yes, but you’re going to be too late…and even if you weren’t, I still would not let you.” The Builders and the Alephs attack her, but she overpowers them easily—and destroys them. The last remaining Builder triggers a command protocol in the Alephs, whose aims have now changed as they learn victory is unachievable.
Erasure protocols enacted. Self-destruct all systems. Destroy everything.
…Whoa. This was definitely a heavy-hitting issue. Riding on the success of their “victory” on Hala, you’d expect the Council to have a stunning comeback and defeat the Builders in the classic underdog plot device—but this time around, it plays out just as it would on a true battlefield. They are still outnumbered, overwhelmed, and running out of options. Even when you win one battle, you can still lose a war. The Builders made the Annihilation Wave devour itself, which was one of their final fallback plans. It’s only through the intervention of the Ex Nihili that Captain Universe is able to wake up and confront her unruly children, but even then she’s unable to rein them in completely. I’m not sure if all of the Builders have been destroyed or simply the ones in the area she was fighting, but the Alephs still remain, and the Alephs are bound and determined to destroy, and destroy everything—a task to which they are particularly well suited. Let’s hope they can find a way to stop the Alephs before they begin razing planets again.
Avengers Assemble 20
Last issue, we saw the escape of Captain Marvel and her team from the Builder ship, aided by Spider-Woman, Black Widow, Shang-Chi, and Eden. This issue, as have all the Avengers Assemble issues that tie in with Infinity so far, was told through the eyes of Jessica Drew, and follows her progression from the end of the Battle of the Corridor to the Builders’ attack on the refugees, and through the rescue mission to the Builder ship. They aid their teammates in their escape and retrieval of Nightmask, Starbrand, Abyss, and the still-unconscious Captain Universe before leaving the Builder ship—but not before having Starbrand blow it out of the sky. This week, we switch viewpoints to three of the Uncanny Avengers in another Infinity tie-in: Wonder Man, Wasp, and the Scarlet Witch.
The beginning of the issue introduces Alice and Denny Kedzierski, who lost their son Tommy in what’s implied to be a school shooting, after which Denny sinks into himself and Alice longs for him to become the bigger man she married. We cut to Simon, Jan, and Wanda, headed back home on the Quinjet after an encounter with Thanos’ forces. Jan accuses Simon of using his new “non-violent” tendences as an excuse to not get his hands dirty and make other people fight for him, when the team is confronted by a giant naked man in the middle of a city street. The man is none other than Denny Kedzierski, whose wife was affected by the Terrigen mists Black Bolt unleashed in Infinity 4, and suddenly Denny’s bigger than a house, while his house—with his wife and his neighbors inside of it—have vanished. Jan figures out that Alice has gained size-changing powers from the Terrigenesis, and by making Denny bigger, his house has shrunk down so much that it’s entered the Microverse (in which Jan had been trapped until quite recently). Using Wanda’s probability-warping powers, Jan boosts her shrinking ability to re-enter the Microverse and find Alice, Soo Lin, and Hana—but they’ve already been found by Gouzar, the centaur warlord whom the Avengers defeated when they rescued Jan. But Pym particles don’t work correctly in the Microverse, and Jan’s only hope is Alice’s new mass transfer powers, which she harnesses in just enough time to save Soo Lin from Gouzar. Alice returns them all to normal size by focusing on Denny, and together the two of them decide to move forward together as a team, with Alice excited about using her new abilities to do good in the world.
Oh my goodness, this was a remarkably satisfying read, especially after this week’s other Infinity tie-ins have all been rather dark and depressing. The story told over the course of this issue, though short, is engrossing and captures the reader’s attention right off the bat. It’s incredibly hard not to be rooting for Alice and Denny, especially when you learn about everything they’ve been through and how they’ve still pulled through it all and stayed together. I certainly hope we see more of Alice and her new powers, as she and Denny make a great team and a loving, supportive couple, which is something that’s always nice to see in the midst of comics dealing with aliens and battles and superheroes.
Can I comment on how wonderful it is to see Simon, Wanda, and Jan in a different comic besides Uncanny Avengers? Having them written by…well, anyone but Rick Remender seems to be an excellent choice, especially since Al Ewing (also the writer for Mighty Avengers) wrote this issue of Avengers Assemble. He has such a good handle on the different quirks of the characters, and a wonderful sense for their own dialogue patterns and internal dialogue too. It’s actually the first time I’ve read a comic with Wanda in it where she actually felt like Wanda practically since the end of Children’s Crusade. And Jan is back in full force as her wonderful, opinionated, no-nonsense-taking self, and I have missed her so terribly much. It’s a great treat to see a giant five-year-old child stomping on a tyrannical centaur overlord (thanks to Alice for enabling that gem), and overall the whole issue is just a lovely, cheerful read, which is a great treat after the tremendously heavy subject matter in Infinity and its related comics. The art for this issue is by Pepe Larraz, who does a fantastic job with the dynamics of the page and expressive movements of the characters (and the coloring is gorgeous too), but easily his most impressive page is Jan’s shrinking back into the Microverse. Pick up a copy and check it out—you won’t be disappointed. I don’t know what’s in store for Avengers Assemble 21, but I hope we’ll be seeing more from Ewing and Larraz!
A long, long time ago (all the way back in July), we read the Hawkeye Annual, where Kate took Lucky the dog and headed for the West Coast, only to be caught in Madame Masque’s revenge plot. At the end of the issue, Kate was attempting to get a job in order to have a place to live and some income (as she lost her luggage, financial support, and all her assets), supporting herself on her own for the first time. In Hawkeye 12, we saw Barney Barton’s return to New York and to his brother, as of yet for reasons unknown. Clint is still up to his ears in trouble (one of the reasons Kate headed to California), but whether his brother’s return will ease his troubles or increase them, we’ve yet to find out.
Hawkeye 13 seems to cover events that happen starting all the way back in Hawkeye 9 with the death of Clint’s neighbor and friend Grills (actually named Gil) at the hands of the assassin Kazi, working for the tracksuit-bro-gang trying to take out Clint, and moving through Lucky’s adventures in Hawkeye 11 (which, we know now, span issues 10 through the annual) to Barney’s return in Hawkeye 12, Kate’s leaving for the West Coast in the Annual, and the aftermath of that. It begins with Clint getting an Avengers call, and ending up in medical where he receives a call from Kate letting him know that Grills has been killed. After a night of (extremely) heavy drinking, he wakes up to Barney’s call letting him know he’s in town (from issue 12), and is woken again by the arrival of the cops, who need to ask him questions regarding Grills’ death. He meets Grills’ father to tell him of his death in person, and we jump to Clint and Kate getting ready to attend the funeral. Kate tries to reassure him during the car ride there, but Clint falls asleep (and has a rather disturbing dream, presumably about the people for whose deaths he feels responsible). Clint heads back to the apartment building to meet up with his brother, who shows up late, and is in the apartment when Kate heads out with Lucky (Hawkeye Annual). He brings Barney up to the roof to introduce him to the rest of the tenants, who welcome him to the family, and our last six panels are more and more distant shots of Clint, standing alone, on the roof of the apartment building.
Man. That was a heck of a read, especially coming straight from the much more light-hearted Avengers Assemble. Fraction doesn’t pull any of his punches, and in this issue more so than any of the rest, we finally get our clearest glimpse into Clint as he really is: a self-destructing mess. His personal life is falling apart, be it his relationship with the rest of the Avengers, his once-girlfriend Jessica Drew, or with Kate; the stress and physical toll of his job as an Avenger is wearing him down, and the combination of all the stressors in his life have sent his mental health spiraling into a very dark pit. It’s almost hard to read, in a way, but extremely emotionally vivid and poignant. At one point, where Clint finds Grills’ father to tell him of his death, the page is completely devoid of dialogue. The only text comes in the last panel: “I just didn’t want to him to hear about it on the phone, is all. I didn’t want him to be alone.” It’s striking, and it’s terribly sad, but it’s incredibly well written, and even more beautifully drawn. The wonder team of Fraction and Aja has done it yet again, and it was definitely worth the wait.
Going forward from here, there are still many hurdles for Clint to get over before his life can settle into something that could be considered peaceful. The tracksuit gang is still after him, and with the assassin Kazi (who wears Pierrot-like face paint, a whitened face with a single black teardrop), they’ve definitely got a hired gun who knows what he’s doing. (If I’m honest, I am overly fond of the tracksuit gang, not because they are quite nasty and do things like kill innocent people, but because of their ridiculously amusing tendencies to wear tracksuits and their speech pattern of inserting “bro” after everything, and the fact that both of these traits apply to the probably-eighty-year-old gang leader.) Kazi isn’t without honor, interestingly enough, as the tracksuits attend Grills’ funeral from a distance with Kazi, who refuses to kill Clint then and there even if it would be an easy kill. We actually met him in Hawkeye 10, where he chatted with Kate at length at one of her father’s parties, which was intercut with scenes from his actual life growing up in a place he only called “hell.” He’s an intriguing character, and if he weren’t contracted to kill Clint (and possibly Kate too), I’d be very interested in finding out more about him.
Barney’s reappearance doesn’t bode well for Clint, either, as most of the times Barney has showed up in Clint’s life have usually been followed by disaster. Clint’s life is definitely going to take a turn for the worse before it can get better, as his staunchest ally has just walked out his door with his dog and many of the Avengers aren’t speaking to him, but I can only hope things improve soon.
New Avengers 11
In the previous issue of New Avengers, the Illuminati received a possibly falsified Terrigen Codex from Black Bolt in order to help them find Thane, the son of Thanos, before he was found and killed by Thanos’ forces. Dr. Strange manages to find him in Greenland, but is being mind-controlled by one of the Black Order (which I just realized I’ve accidentally been calling the Black Council in reviews for far too long, mea culpa), thus revealing Thane’s location to Ebony Maw and presumably to Thanos. As the issue ended, the Illuminati gathered to deal with another incursion event, while Thanos’ forces assemble to take Wakanda and Black Bolt prepared to meet Thanos to deny him his Tribute (and Thane). We saw how that played out in Infinity 4, where Black Bolt’s audible denial of Thanos triggered Maxiumus’ Terrigen Bomb, spreading the Terrigenesis-inducing mists all across the world and triggering the genetic changes that create an Inhuman in everyone with Inhuman DNA. It didn’t end up looking too good for Black Bolt, as the last time we saw him was just after getting his head smashed into the ground repeatedly by Thanos.
Maximus and Lockjaw (a bulldog-like alien with teleportation abilities who serves Black Bolt) teleport away from the exploding Attilan, with Maximus declaring that Black Bolt believed in the two of them so they must continue their work. In Australia, the Illuminati have gathered to deal with the latest incursion event, when an Aleph crosses over from the other Earth, which invites them to come watch its masters destroy a world. Meanwhile, Wakanda is under heavy attack by Thanos’ forces, with Proxima Midnight herself leading the charge through the city’s broken walls. Proxima asks a fallen soldier where to find the Panther—not the Queen, but the man, because he has the Gem. Thanos’ generals show him the armament of antimatter projection bombs below the city (likely created for dealing with incursions) and the imprisoned Terrax and Black Swan, who he chooses not to release. Back on the Builder’s ship, one of the Ex Nihili has discovered that Dr. Strange is being mind controlled by Ebony Maw, and physically removes the remnants of it from his head. While he recovers, the Builder tells them that they are no longer able to safely navigate the multiverse because of fractures in the spaces between them. Earth is the axis point for the death of the universes, and when Reed protests that killing a single Earth would have too small of an effect, the Builder asks, “What if we killed all the Earths?” They think that would either save or prolong the multiverse’s existence, but their World Killer ship is too large to travel between incursion sites, and the Builders in the Illuminati’s universe have been defeated by the Galactic Council and the Avengers. They send the Illuminati back through to their own Earth, but not before the Builder asks if they have the ability to destroy their own world. When Reed says yes, it replies, “Then what are you waiting for?”
Yikes. If things weren’t already bad enough, they’ve just gotten a whole lot worse. Up until now, the Illuminati have been struggling with the moral dilemma of destroying other Earths in order to save their own, and now they’re confronted with the idea that destroying their Earth may somehow save all universes. They’ve certainly got the capacity to do it and then some, but I certainly hope it doesn’t come to that. (I’m sure it won’t. It’d be a pretty boring universe to write comics about if everyone was refugees in space. Also, you know, a death count in the billions is probably best to avoid.) Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating and complex problem, and one I hope we see discussed in future issues. The next issue of New Avengers doesn’t come out until after Infinity 6, so we’ll have a while to wait and find out.
It seems we haven’t seen the last of Maximus’ plans, as it sounds like he has even more parts of Black Bolt’s plan to enact. Meanwhile, in Wakanda, somehow T’Challa has gotten hold of the Time Gem from the Infinity Gauntlet, and I honestly have no idea how. It vanished when the rest of the Gems broke during an incursion, and hasn’t been seen since. I’m not sure what Thanos is planning to do with it, but given that it’s Thanos, I’m sure it’s nothing good. Thankfully, Dr. Strange’s mind is his own again thanks to an attentive Ex Nihilo, and I’d expect that the Illuminati will finally know where Thanos’ son Thane is located fairly soon. Let’s just hope they get to him before Thanos does—but as soon as Ebony Maw gets back to the fleet, Thanos will also know where he is.
Next week, we’ll be taking a look at Iron Man 17, Infinity 5, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 28, Uncanny Avengers 13, and Young Avengers 11!
Eve is asexual panromantic, a graduate student with no time for sleep (but always time for comics), a senior contributing writer for the Rainbow Hub, and an avid consumer of any type of media she can get her hands on. When not perusing her incredibly large collection of Marvel comics, she can be found reading, knitting in front of the TV, or on her laptop.