Waiting for the TradeNew Avengers: Everything Dies
by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting
collects New Avengers (2013) #1-6
Why I Bought This: Actually I didn’t, I got it from the library. I had intended to buy this some day when I first heard it involved the Infinity Gems but then I bought the Infinity crossover trade by Hickman as a brand new preorder on Amazon for $50 and hated it. After that I wasn’t willing to spend more money on a Hickman trade. However with this now being the book that sets the new Secret Wars event in motion that is allegedly going to end the Marvel Universe I decided it to track it down and read it.
The Plot: The Black Panther reforms the Illuminati when he discovers that universes are colliding.
Chapter 2 – Reed interrogates the woman from last issue, who is known as Black Swan. Swan reveals the world she destroyed was an alternate Earth. Reed briefs the others on the threat. He explains the infinite alternate earth multiverse theory. He says all universes left to their own die at the same time. However in one of the universes an event occurred that destroyed that universe. As a result the remaining universes are contracting together to fill the gap since the other universes apparently exist literally side by side. Unfortunately, when the universes contract they collide at the spot where the original defective universe was destroyed, which was Earth. When two Earths make contact both of their universes are destroyed. Furthermore, this then creates larger gaps in the multiverse, which causes more universe to contract, leading a cycle that ultimately will destroy all realities. However destroying one of the Earths, as Black Swan did in chapter 1, can prevent the incursion from destroying the two universes. Tony says they need to investigate the cause of the collapse and if the chain reaction can be stopped or slowed down. Reed notes he can rebuild Black Swan’s bomb based on her trigger, which they took off her when they captured her. Cap then puts a stop to that talk. No one is blowing up worlds while he is around. Reed is concerned there won’t be time to deal with this in the normal heroic way as Swan told him that once an Earth survives one incursion it attracts additional incursions at a rapid rate and when an incursion begins there are only eight hours from when the other Earth appears in the sky before the two worlds make contact. Hearing this, Tony makes the pitch that all options need to be on the table; to which Cap responds, “What the hell is wrong with you.” Cap says they have a solution: they can just reassemble the Infinity Gauntlet (The Illuminati have been in possession of the individual gems since Bendis’ run). As the others leave to get their gems, Reed stays to talk with T’Challa. Reed feels with infinite worlds on the line this type of solution should have been tried already thus the two most likely conclusions are either the problem is inherent to the multiverse and cannot be corrected or that an outside force is working to destroy all realities. Reed concludes that while he’s all for trying the moral options first, he’s willing to destroy worlds if needed.
Chapter 3 – Cap and Black Bolt recruit Beast to the Illuminati and he retrieves the Mind Gem, which had been in Professor X’s possession before he died (again). Reed implants early warning devices into the Illuminati members’ palms to detect the incursions. Reed then runs the Infinity Gauntlet plan past Black Swan and she says it will buy them time. Four days later we have an incursion in
Cap is given the Infinity Gauntlet. Cap forces the other universe backwards but
there is a vibrational feedback so that when Cap ends the incursion all of the
Infinity Gems shatter except the Time Gem, which disappears. Now the Illuminati
meet again. Cap asks Panther to support him before they go in, and T’Challa
vows to do the right thing. Cap again says there will be no world destroying on
his watch. Everyone else disagrees including T’Challa as they vow to protect
their nations, species or family. On Tony’s order, Dr. Strange then mind-wipes
Cap and the Illuminati send him on his way with no memory of being a member so
they can get on with finding ways to destroy worlds. Pakistan
Chapter 4 – Reed and T’Challa build anti-matter bombs based on Black Swan’s technology. Tony starts to build a Dyson Sphere, which can harness the energy of the sun, which at 2-percent power can destroy a world. Dr. Strange finds a spell book called the “Blood Bible” which has a spell he believes can destroy a world but will requires the life force of 40 men and (the soul of) one righteous man. Just then another incursion occurs over
Chapter 5 – We’re back to Reed and Black Swan having another Silence of the Lambs moment. She agrees to help them because she wants to live. Reed and T’Challa release her from her cell but she has to wear a bomb on her throat. Next we see Terrax is in an adjoining cell. We flashback to one week ago where Black Bolt defeated Terrax but the fight lasted long enough for Galactus to eat the world as the heroes narrowly escaped back to their own reality. Black Swan gives her origin. She was raised in some mystic temple with doors to other dimensions. Her Earth was subject to an incursion and the invading earth sent an army to kill everyone. She went through one of the doors where she found a sisterhood known as the Black Swans, whom raised her. The Swan dimension has since been destroyed as well. The Swans believe the birth of a being known as Rabum Alal is the cause of the universal destruction. Reed asks how to stop the incursions. Swan says to evacuate the planet and destroy their own Earth and this will spare their universe. Swan notes she can sense the incursions earlier than the Illuminati’s warning system and one is due to incur in minutes. This time it is happening over Latveria.
Chapter 6 – The Illuminati teleport into Latveria with their antimatter bomb. However this time the incursion sky is blue not red, which according to Swan is “much worse.” It means a group known as the Mapmakers has come. The Mapmakers have already destroyed all life on the incursion Earth but keep a it intact so they can map new universes to conquer when an incursion occurs. We see the mapmakers in tech-armor and they are fighting Doom and Kristoff. The Illuminati go to the dead world where Swan says the mapmakers will detonate the planet before the incursion destroys the two universes, however if one fragment of that other Earth survives the Mapmakers can find their way back to this reality so they can devour the new Earth of all it resources as well. Panther detonates the incursion world with the anti-matter bomb. The universe returns to normal. The heroes return to Wakanda. When Swan is alone in her cell she telepathically contacts Terrax. Meanwhile Doom recovers a fragment of the other Earth.
Critical Thoughts: I have to admit, I’m surprised by how much I liked this. This certainly presents a unique threat (at least for Marvel). Now generally I don’t care for multiverse stories with alternate versions of existing characters but in this one the details of the multiverses themselves are secondary to the incursion threat. What I like best about this book is it doesn’t shy away from the fact that in the Marvel Universe there are plenty of options for destroying a planet and we discuss some of the most obvious right away: Infinity Gems, Ultimate Nullifier, Galactus, etc.
The concept is certainly an intriguing take of necessary evil for the greater good. Do you sacrifice the billions of strangers on alternate Earth to save the life of not just your own world but the life of everyone in two universes (which in the Marvel Universe with numerous alien races some of which have empires that span galaxies is clearly trillions upon trillions of lifeforms. Now of course in the old days the Fantastic Four alone would solve a problem like this without even considering killing anyone, but in modern Marvel generally Cap and Spidey still have that absolute moral sense. Yes Reed, Beast and maybe Strange could be written to agree with Cap but given the stakes it is not a stretch for them to have them at least explore all options, which is where the line is so far in this trade.
Yes in the cons I could easily complain about the Infinity Gems fracturing. I feel like that just shouldn’t happen, given what we’ve seen of them in the past. But if it didn’t happen then this story would just be over and done with; therefore I can see why Hickman made that choice: They are the most obvious solution first, he had to address them and find a way to take them off the table if this is the story he wants to tell. Of course with that consideration given, there's no excuse for the heroes not assembling the Infinity Gems earlier and practicing with them. They come up with this plan with a couple days to spare and gather gems but don't unite them until the moment of crisis? That does not seem like something that either an expert tactician (like Cap and Panther) or a scientist (like Reed and Tony) would do. What kind of tactician or scientist takes an untested weapon into the field?
Grade A-. Despite my initial skepticism I liked this enough that I placed an order for the other trades in this series from my library.