A White Event is occuring and the Earth is going to ascend. Systems are in place to create heralds to shepherd this ascension, shepherds including a Nightmask and a Starbrand. But the system is broken, so have these heralds been correctly chosen? It doesn't seem so as the new Starbrand is not in control of his powers, so Nightmask takes him to Mars for some advice from his father.
On Mars, Nightmask is asking Ex Nihilo for help. Abyss notices something is different and tries to scan Starbrand. He doesn’t like this and so blasts her into two. Fortunately Abyss’s wisp like status allows her to pull herself together and Nightmask permits her to scan him. It turns out the conflict isn’t within the heralds but is on the Earth itself. Ex Nihilo, comes clean and tells them that he had gotten bored of judging planets in the standard way so changed the rules this time. The origin bombs he threw way back in Avengers (Vol. 5) #1 weren’t just to evolve the people, but the Earth itself – to make it sentient! Each of the seven bombs housed a trait necessary for an evolving species – self-awareness, self-sustenance, self-repair, reproduction, communication, evolution and self-defence. Ex Nihilo says there is no way to stop it, “You can’t stop life without ending it”, and has no idea what will happen.
Meanwhile, the Avengers are about to travel to Mars to catch up with the wayward heralds when Tony Stark detects they have moved again – to the quarantined zone in Croatia (where the self-awareness bomb landed). Nightmask and Starbrand witness the pods present hatch into worm like creatures, which join together forming a complex structure, effectively the brain of the Earth. The Avengers turn up just in time to see the brain reach out to Nightmask and engulf him. Starbrand lets rip (just for a change!) and blasts the brain, killing the Earth. The Avengers have had enough and tell the heralds it has to end now. Nightmask asks Captain Universe for help, but she can’t – she warned him if he did this it would end with him in a box. The heralds aren’t going down without a fight and hold there own for quite some time, until the combined effects of Hyperion, Thor and Hulk stop Starbrand. Kevin calls truce, says he was holding back in the fight, he didn’t mean any of this to happen and he didn’t ask for any of it. Captain America knows this but says he still has to pay for his mistakes. Iron Man says they will help the heralds but for now the Earth will be safer with them not on it.
The final page shows Adam and Kevin in a space station (kinda a box I guess!).
The end of the latest arc, and I’ve got to be honest it’s quite similar to previous issues. I’ve scored previous issues quite well, so that’s a good thing right? Well, not so much. It’s not that this issue was bad per se, it’s just it had been seen before: Starbrand loses control of his powers and lashes out with them, cue the Avengers trying to take him down and struggle to beat him (in fact it’s only because the heralds stood down that the Avengers “won” the fight). It was a nice change of pace to see Nightmask fight the Avengers alongside his fellow herald (somewhat understandably). This gave the fight a difference to the one in the previous issue, which is a good thing, it shows some character development.
We also got to see Ex Nihilo again, where he reveals there was more to his origin bombs then normal, these ones will make the Earth itself live. Whilst some of that paid off in this issue, most of it was to set up issues downstream (presumably), mainly because Starbrand destroyed the new and exciting “Brain” of the Earth minutes after its creation.
This is where I struggle a little with this arc or rather its conclusion. Nothing has really changed from the beginning of it compared to the end of it. Sure, we have a new character in Starbrand and the whole heralds of the White Event has been explained a little, but now they’ve been removed from the Earth so they may as well not turned up in the first place! Equally we see the Earth start to evolve but then that’s destroyed minutes after it began, so may as well not have happened! I’m all for issues setting up later stories, but the issue needs to tell a story in its own right or else what’s the point? Anything new was pretty much destroyed or removed soon after its introduction. Destroying seemed to be the answer to everything in this arc: a kid has got powers he doesn’t now how to use yet – take him down, the Earth is growing a brain and is trying to reach out for help as it is broken – destroy it. Let’s hope there is going to be more to the Avengers than a clean up crew as seen in most of the issues of volume 5 to date. Equally let’s hope the things that happen in this issue/arc pay off later, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions – which is good as it can drive an ongoing story and generate interest, but we need some answers along the way else it can get too confusing.
The art is fantastic again, some nice page spreads of the fight between the heralds and the Avengers. Nice section of Builders' code to translate again, which is a bit of fun. Whilst Spider-Man and Spider-Woman appear, it’s a cameo pre- and mid-fight with no dialogue, so nothing to review for them specifically.
Not bad, but it felt more like set up then the end of a story and that's not really a good thing for the end of an arc.
The space station the heralds are put in (presumably willingly, as with there power sets I can't see it holding them) is a Dyson sphere in orbit of the Sun. Tony Stark is building it in New Avengers as a back-up plan should something happening to the Earth. I don't read New Avengers, but fortunatley caught this in a preview.
Whilst it's cool that the Avengers and New Avengers link up (after all Hickman does write both of them), I hope it doesn't happen too much. The previous incarnations of Avengers and New Avengers had too many overlapping stories and it's not fair that you have to pick both up in order to follow a story to its conclusion. Whilst it may encourage readers to pick up a title they might not currently subscribe to (which of course Marvel would want), you should be able to read a story to its completion within its own comic. There are plenty of line wide sagas that cross multiple comics without adding to them. I've only so much money to spend on comics!!!