If you have been reading this event, you would know that an ancient civilization called Builders have been travelling toward Earth so the Avengers headed out to space to unite with the Galactic Council and stop them. Last issue, they experienced a victory against the Builders, destroying many of their essential space crafts. As revealed in Avengers Vol.5 #20, though, this changed nothing and the Avenger forces are still outgunned. So Captain America has contacted a Builder which has taken Hala to negotiate surrender.
Meanwhile, Thanos has found this to be a good time to carry out a personal endeavor on Earth to kill his son, who happens to be a lost Inhuman. He ordered Black Bolt, leader of the Inhumans, to give him the heads of every Inhuman within the age range of his son. When he went to retrieve the tribute, Thanos found Black Bolt sitting in his throne, with Attilan uninhabited. Thanos ridiculed him, which drove Black Bolt to bellow, “NO!” at him, destroying his kingdom…
On the Shi’ar Battleship above Hala, Captain America and Captain Marvel are discussing their plan. Cap Marvel tells him that the people around them are “on the verge of breaking.” Cap A tells her that their plan has to succeed when Gladiator tells him, “It’s done.”
In Hala, the reigning Builder on the world is discussing the rebel’s negotiation to end hostilities with his fellow Builders. The Builder is unsure whether they have something up their sleeves, but the others ignore him, deciding to stop interfering with their communication network. Ronan, who is still upset over the Kree’s surrender, tells the Builder that he has called forth the rest of his Accusers. The Builder says, “Then summon the rebel diplomat, let this person land here and let them bend their knee… For all of Hala and the universe to see. For you witness… This will be the finest day in the history of the Kree Empire.”
On Earth, in the hidden city of Orollan, a man is bandaging a boy’s arm. Millennia ago, when the Inhuman royalty fractured, the tribes scattered and are now hidden among humans. The Lor in Orollan is a lost house where a shard of the Terrigan Crystal has been kept, which evolved the inhabitants. The man, who is a healer, finishes bandaging the boy’s arm, and he is grateful. Apparently, the healer is Thane, son of Thanos, who his father has come to kill.
In New York City, the wreckage of Attilan, which used to hover over the city, has fallen into the East River. Thanos rises from the wreckage and watches as a Terrigan Bomb is activated above him. The bomb is a machine build by Maximus the Mad which turns the Terrigan into nitrogen and spreads it around the world. Then, all people with Inhuman DNA go through a change.
In the wreckage of Attilan, Thanos observes Black Bolt emerge from the devastation. Black Bolt shouts at Thanos but the force leaves him unaffected. The mad titan knocks the Inhuman king to the ground and then picks him up, demanding to know where his son is. Black Bolt yells at him again, directly in the face.
Meanwhile across Earth, the Terrigan has spread to Orollan. The Inhumans have always believed that terrigenesis reveals who you really are. Thane has feared that his heredity is his true legacy and that the terrigenesis would confirm this. When the Terrigans touch Thane, he engulfs in flames.
In the debris of Attilan, Thanos easily resists Black Bolt’s force, and covers his mouth with his massive hand. Then, he smashes his head into the ground twice, knocking him unconscious. Thanos looks to the sky, asking where his son is. Thane has transformed into a purple, demon-like creature with fiery claws. The people around him have been killed by his flames. The narrator describes, “Thanos has spent his life chasing death… He did not yet know that he spawned it.”
On Hala, all of the rebel’s hopes are depending on a single person who has been sent to negotiate with the Builders. Kl’rt the Skrull Leader is unhappy about how their future is dependent on surrender. Gladiator asks Captain America if the man he has chosen is right for the negotiations and Cap is certain. The person they have sent, Thor, walks forward to begin the discussion with the Builder and Ronan instructs him to unarm himself. He is forced to throw his hammer into the sky.
Now, they can open up negotiations. Thor tells the Builder that he will end the hostilities by yielding to him, but demands assurances. The Builder smacks him, saying, “Here are your assurances.” It orders him to submit or perish by getting on his knees. While everybody watches, Thor lowers himself to a knee. The Builder tells him that he has saved many by surrendering, but he still plans on destroying Earth because it is a “sickness that exists in every universe that has ever been or will be.”
Meanwhile, Thor’s hammer travels across the galaxy into the sun and begins in a path back to its master’s location. The Builder keeps raving to Thor, “Humanity should have the good sense to know their story is over.” Thor asks, “What if I am not just a man?” Suddenly, his hammer returns and drives through the Builder’s stomach, killing it. The Builder reveals that this means everything dies in his final words. Thor smashes his head with his hammer and releases the Kree from the Builder’s control.
Thor asks Ronan if his Accusers will fight with them, so he raises his hammer and asks, “Accusers! Are you with me?” The other accusers raise their hammers with Thor and agree. Gladiator asks Captain America what they do next and he says, “Now we win.”
This series feels like two different events packed in one. Hickman first depicts the battle on Earth where the Terrigan Bomb goes off when Attilan falls. Then, Black Bolt and Thanos battle while every person with Inhuman DNA is transformed. Thane, Thanos’ son, is introduced too. Now, this may seem like a complete issue in a Bendis plot, but Hickman is so great with managing comic book space that this only takes up ½ of the issue.
The plot development with the Terrigan bomb is a great catalyst for the rest of the story. It’s pretty obvious that this is meant to set up the next Marvel event, Inhumanity. But it seems really odd that Hickman brings it up in part four of this six part miniseries when this type of trick is usually pulled in the ending of a story. Hickman is obviously going to use this story element instead of just sticking it in for the set-up element, which I find to be a skillful storytelling strategy. I assume Thane is going to play a big part and he will probably fight his father. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he killed Thanos.
I only have one problem with this part of the story. There are very few unwritten rules of the Marvel Universe that writers must yearn to. Thor’s hammer can only be held by Thor, Wolverine is invincible, and Black Bolt’s speech is tremendously forceful and is used seldom. And Marvel has broken each of these rules. Black Bolt’s fight with Thanos is pathetic. When Thanos is hit by Black Bolt’s force of speech, he isn’t even affected. It’s obviously a plot device to heighten Thanos’ reputation. Come on, Hickman! You’re better than this!
Weaver’s art in this was great. Every panel looks wonderful and I have yet to see a story drawn by him that I haven’t enjoyed. The architecture is specifically elaborate in this segment, especially the panel where Attilan is falling into the East River. I also enjoyed the visuals for the Thanos vs. Black Bolt battle and Thane’s design looks striking.
Then, if that wasn’t enough, in the battle in space, the rebels managed to kill the commandeering Builder on Hala and release its people to fight with them. This is a bit leisurelier part than the other segments of the intergalactic battle, but still an effective one. The Avengers now know they can kill the Builders and have the Kree forces aside them again. Hickman paced the scene with Thor flawlessly and I’m happy that the Avengers have a sense of confidence. (Even though I’m sure something bad is bound to happen because they’ve won twice now…)
Jerome Opena’s exceedingly detailed artwork is first-class. The art captured the edge of the scene well and the panel where Thor’s hammer drives through the Builder looks remarkable. I have noticed that Opena manages detail well by attracting attention to elements in each panel with intensified detail.
Another great installment with great plot developments. I have to take away half-a-web because of the Black Bolt vs. Thanos battle, though.