You know what they are. Those universe-spanning story lines that Marvel now runs every year.
Back in the early days of Secret Wars, they were tidy little things. Remember how at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #251, Spidey blinks off to the other end of the galaxy. Then at the start of Amazing Spider-Man #252 he's back again in his own title and carrying on with his own story lines.
The actual events of Secret Wars all happen in a nice tidy 12-part limited series. Of course, Spider-Man is affected by those events. He has a black symbiote costume! Lots of new happenings. But the Spider-Man writers can get on with exploring those changes nice and clearly in his own three titles.
And we, the readers? We get clear separation to focus on one thing, or the other.
Well, yeah. Things don't happen like that any more.
Secret Wars is back. But this time, instead of a 12-issue limited series, it's a messy run-up that crosses through the various Avengers titles, like this one.
The events of this issue #8 of "Captain America and the Mighty Avengers" cover a span of several months during these "last days" of the Earth-616 that we know. It consists of a series of confrontations, many of which are recaps of story fragments that actually appeared in other titles, either in the distant or recent past.
In the first half of this issue, an aged Steve Rogers meets with the Mighty Avengers (including Spider-Man) to summarise for them the past actions of the Illuminati, and the threat of the inter-Earth "incursions". Steve seeks to garner their support to attempt to defeat the world-destroying plans of the Illuminati (who plan to eliminate the various other Earths in order to protect their own).
The next few pages flash through various intermediate months. The Might Avengers try to be useful as the world at large (now aware of the looming threat) begins to panic. In one of these side-plots, White Tiger confronts her sister, but things don't go well.
The last five pages of of this issue recap the battle in Wakanda between Steve Rogers' Avengers and the Illuminati, as was told properly in Avengers (Vol. 3) #28. Spider-Man appears in that battle too.
Following that battle, "Blue Marvel" and "Spectrum" argue with Reed Richards, expressing their anger that the Illuminati didn't seek wider help and guidance when initially tackling the problem.
This title suffers from a lack of clarity about what it wants to be. It lurches from "cosmic-spanning problems" to inter-team blaming and shaming, to inter-family blaming and shaming. The only thing that ties it all together is people standing and yelling at each other.
First Steve Rogers is angry at the Illuminati, then normal people are angry about the end of the world, White Tiger's family is angry at White Tiger, then various Mighty Avengers are angry at the Illuminati again.
Look, it is certainly possible to create a wonderful story by contrasting the large and the small. You know the stuff:
...in the midst of the end of days, an old warrior seeks accountability, and a young girl finds peace.
You can win a Booker Prize with that sort of thing. It's very effective.
But you have to have a plan, and this comic doesn't. Instead, it just flits from one to the other like none of it really matters – which to be fair, it really doesn't. You could have fed this comic down the garbage disposal and all you would be out is $3.99. You wouldn't have missed any important part of any story. You wouldn't have lost any character development, or skipped past any human interest.
We already knew that Ava (the White Tiger) had family problems. But we aren't given any time to get to grips with anything. We don't learn anything new. There's no "story" being told here.
This is 6 flashback panels worth of story, wrapped up in a glossy cover.
It makes me kind of angry sometimes. There were times in the early days where Marvel was on the verge of bankruptcy, struggling to pay the printers and the distributors. Now, Marvel is so flush with cash, it can produce comics books that do nothing but repeat other comic books. And people will still buy them.
But imagine being a "Writer" for this comic. You're burning with your insightful ideas to move hearts and engage minds...
...then your Editor-in-Chief explains that you need to allocate 80% of your page count to a recap of stuff that happened in other comic books. You have four pages left to try and create what pathos you can. But you're spread so thin, you can't even do that any more.
No wonder this book got cancelled next issue.