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?
The issue picks up right where the last one finished (it’s nice when they actually do that), with a naked man in the middle of a crater caused by the Starbrand, the only survivor for a one mile radius. As the Avengers surround him, Captain America acknowledges he’s just a kid (late teens as opposed to a child) and so tries to reach out to him. Iron Man looks him up on his mainframe; Kevin Kale Connor, a good student with no criminal record whose only flaw was that he missed his last tetanus booster! Cap A is about to clear the area taking Kevin with them, when the kid sees all the skeletons around him and freaks. Cap A tries to keep him calm but Captain Universe callously tells Kevin that it’s his fault entirely and he killed 3,203 people (guilt trip!).
Kevin (understandably) freaks even more on hearing this and starts to uncontrollably power up. Iron Man suggests retreat but Hulk wants to SMASH! Kevin defends himself and sends Hulk into orbit! Whilst Captain Marvel is sent to retrieve Hulk, the time for subtleness is over and the Avengers must subdue Kevin to prevent him doing anymore damage (albeit accidentally). Kevin is scared and is lashing out in defence, bettering Thor, Hyperion, Iron Man and Cap A in the process. It takes an orbital “Fastball Special” with Cap M pitching Hulk to knock Kevin down long enough for him to be restrained.
Thor is about to deal a finishing blow (it really did escalate quickly), when Nightmask stops them. He wants to help his fellow herald and Cap U approves but warns him that this situation will end with him in a box – right where he belongs. Nightmask teleports himself and Kevin away to the Superflow of Universe that Avengers (Vol. 5) #7 opened with. Nightmask explains the whole ascension thing and that heralds are summoned to help but as the system is broken the two of them are probably the only ones that are going to show up. Nightmask acknowledges that older systems are trying to rewrite new ones and its causing a conflict. They have to fix it, so Nightmask teleports them home.
Back at Avengers tower, Cap U has temporarily left her host in control and Tamara remembers nothing so isn’t much use to the team at the moment. Iron Man uses one of his toys to track where Nightmask has gone. His machine should work providing Nightmask is in the local Universe and he is, as Nightmask teleported home. But Nightmask wasn’t born on Earth, he has returned to his home on Mars and to his father, Ex Nihilo…
Good story to introduce the character of Kevin and well paced. It had action and also the necessary dialogue to help the story along without taking over and getting in the way. It shows us that Kevin is just a kid who has suddenly been given ridiculous amounts of power and has no idea what to do with it or how to control it. Cap A tries to keep him calm but then along comes Cap U and tells him he’s a mass murderer! He’s scared so is lashing out, not with hostile intent but to keep his "attackers" away from him. This demonstrates just how powerful he is, effortlessly batting away attacks from Hulk, Thor and Hyperion. Comic books 101 – if you want to introduce a new character as very powerful show him/her defeating existing mighty characters!
Fortunately Nightmask takes Kevin away from it all to calm the situation, despite a rather ominous warning from Cap U. This “Time-out” serves to not only explain the deal to Kevin but also clear a few things up for readers too. In my opinion this is a nice organic way of getting information across without it feeling forced.
Hickman is also dealing with existing characters that are far too powerful, as Cap U leaves the building when she’d be quite useful – no snapped fingers to fix this situation. Whilst this is good and keeps the comic somewhat grounded, I’m hoping the “Cap U has just stepped out” excuse isn’t used too often or it will become a little laughable.
The only slight (and I do mean slight) down side for me is a minor thing with Cap M (beside the fact that all three Captains are in the issue making the use of abbreviations whilst reviewing it fun!). When Hulk is sent to space, Cap M goes and gets him. No problem normally, except in her solo title Cap M isn’t allowed to fly at the moment (something to do with a brain lesion). Now whilst this story could be set before or (at some stage) after that current thread in her own title, it’s just a shame that comics don’t line up alongside each other at time of purchase for the sake of their readers. As I say, a minor thing that doesn’t spoil this story and is problematic for any character in more than one book by a different author in general – quite how Wolverine fans cope I don’t know!
Love the art once again, from the Avengers getting more battle-scarred during their conflict with Kevin to Cap M’s hair blowing in the wind. I don’t use the AR app and argue you don’t need to when the still images convey movement this well.
I really liked this issue, moved the story along whilst introducing a new character. No Spider characters present though so that'll be my excuse for not given a maximum score on the Spider-fan website!! (I'll be honest I struggle giving anything a perfect score.)
They have cleared up the name thing that has been bothering me for the past few issues. Adam/Nightmask is called Adam, Nightmask is his hero identity.