The Watcher was murdered and Nick Fury assembled the Avengers to hunt down the killer! The heroes tracked down a warehouse full of Mindless Ones with the villains Exterminatrix and the Orb. As the latter was escaping with a sickly creature that looked like the Thing, the Avengers cornered him. In defense, he pulled out one of the Watcher's eyes, calling it "a bomb full of secrets!"
Meanwhile, a shadowed figure assembled super-teams to investigate specific areas for the Watcher's killer. Moon Knight, Gamora, and the Winter Soldier are in space; Black Panther, Ant-Man, and Emma Frost are underground among dead monsters; and the Punisher and Dr. Strange are in another realm with a shot beast. The latter two have found that their killer uses gamma-radiated bullets.
In an event that occurred weeks ago, the Orb sat in an office, explaining that he had dreams about a mansion on the Moon. Whenever he woke from the dream, the Watcher was always standing at the foot of his bed. The Orb figured that the mansion of his dreams belonged to the cosmic being. “That’s what I do--I see what other people can’t. And sometimes…I steal eyeballs and roll around naked in them. But mostly…I see things,” the Orb explained.
Soon, another person began talking to him, mentioning that, during their conversation, he considered killing the Orb eight different times. When the person asked Orb to take off his mask, he enlightened that the eyeball is actually his head and began to describe how he talks.
Eventually, they got back on subject, and Orb depicted the Watcher’s house as full of treasures and secrets. The person asked why he should be interested, and the Orb said, “You want to walk through the doors of that mansion the same as me. And I’m the only man alive who can get you inside.” He ended with the offer that the person could assist him in robbing the Watcher of his secrets.
The person was revealed to be Dr. Midas and his daughter, Exterminatrix, stood beside him, asking if she could shoot the Orb. Midas explained that he has seen the Watcher because “all men who change the world with their bare hands have seen the Watcher.” When Midas asked where the Watcher’s secrets are kept, the Orb revealed, “Right where he can see them.”
In current times, the Orb hoists the Watcher’s eye in the sky, powerfully driving the Avengers away. As the heroes recover from the onslaught, Orb exclaims, “So many pretty little secrets. All now out in the wild. This will be fun to watch.” Recovered, the heroes are in disarray. Spider-Man discovers that he wasn’t the only one bit by the radioactive spider, Thor finds that he has a sister, and Hulk suddenly wants to smash Stark. The surrounding civilians are astonished about secrets they find about their personal lives as well.
As Exterminatrix, Orb, and the Thing-creature are about to escape, Nick Fury points a gun at the eyeball-headed villain. Orb explains that he wasn’t the one who killed the Watcher; he’s been looking into the eye to find who did.
Meanwhile below Earth’s surface, Panther, Ant-Man, and Emma Frost have collected a bag of gamma-irradiated bullets from the dead creatures around them. Lang figures that the oldest corpses are from decades ago, the newest as recent as the past few years. T’Challa suggests that the Watcher died because he saw what he shouldn’t have. He likely observed the killer, who desired to remain hidden.
In another dimension, the Punisher determines that the monster before him was shot nearly 4,000 yards away. “Aren’t many people who could make that shot. Not on Earth at least. I’d say ten total. That includes me,” Castle explains. Strange is concerned that common killers walk the sacred planes, Punisher included. Castle defends himself, yelling that he doesn’t hide those he kills and is irritated at Strange’s accusations. The doctor, putting differences aside, asks for the ten names Castle mentioned.
In the galaxy’s outer rim, Gamora is convinced their mission is a complete waste of time. She asks who gave them the coordinates, and Moon Knight replies that he’s not one who’s known as a fool. The Winter Soldier refuses to heed to Gamora’s complaints to return to Earth, and as things are about to escalate, the heroes find a trail of shell bullets.
A shadowy figure, watching the heroes, tells a costumed person behind him that visitors are coming; they must prepare for the worst. Holding up a gamma-radiated bullet, he says, “I’m afraid we’re going to need… A hell of a lot more of these.”
In Avengers Tower, the Orb is being interrogated by Wolverine and the Hulk. “A tortured school teacher and a deranged physicist. Is this some sort of bizarre variation on the good cop, bad cop routine?” Orb asks. Wolverine calls it “stab cop, smash cop.” Orb expounds, “You’re not the one who can stop this. You want to know what happened? What is happening? Then put me in from of the man in charge.”
Nick Fury is watching the interrogation when he receives a call from Captain America. Rogers reveals that the energy signature they used to track the Mindless Ones has disappeared, so they cannot find Midas’ crew. Cap explains that they remaining heroes are stretched pretty thin, and they need to canvass the entire planet.
Captain America wonders where heroes like Spider-Man and Thor left to after the Watcher’s eye exploded. In response, Fury explains that the Watcher’s eye is, as Reed Richards discovered, a “living storage device” that recorded everything the Watcher witnessed. When it threw secrets back at those in the immediate vicinity, the heroes went into chaos and some departed, which is what the Orb wanted. Fury inquires what Steve saw from the bomb, and he avoids the question. Looking into the eye, Fury wonders, if Cap saw something, why didn’t he?
On a desert-like planet, Moon Knight is disappointed that the trail of bullets led nowhere. The Winter Soldier finds bullet-holes caused by gamma-irradiated shots in the planet’s hull. After some pondering, he discovers what the killer was aiming to do and throws a camera into the space around them. It’s revealed that the planet they’re standing on has been murdered itself.
Gamora figures it would take unimaginable power to kill a living planet, and Spector decides that their list has been greatly narrowed. As Spector is contacting the other teams of heroes, Bucky presses something on his wrist. Gamora is looking for Bucky to ask exactly who assembled their teams, but she cannot find him. Suddenly, the ship that carried them to their destination explodes! Gamora determines that the Winter Soldier is now their prime suspect.
As Fury’s about to leave his chamber to interrogate the Orb, he ponders where the Watcher’s other eye is. Suddenly, the Winter Soldier teleports behind Fury and, when he turns around, shoots him in the chest. “No more running from our sins. No more turning a blind eye,” Bucky states as he shoots Fury’s hand and cuts off his head. The Winter Soldier, gripping Fury’s head in one hand and the Watcher’s eye in the other, utters, “No more secrets.”
This issue is, in my opinion, frustrating. Really, the only major event that occurs is when the Winter Soldier murders Fury at the end. It feels like every other scene is a bit worthless; it’s simply included so characters can make appearances. During the heroes’ investigation, Aaron keeps on covering the same subject that the Watcher’s killer is skilled by revealing that he shoots accurately from 4,000 yards away and that he can kill a living planet. We’ve known that, since the beginning of this series, the killer must have been skilled to kill a cosmic being. Instead of constantly building up the killer’s threat, Aaron should work on advancing the plot.
As far as layout of this series goes, I’m a bit dissatisfied. I was anticipating some big reveals in this issue, but it looks like the only revelations that will occur in this series are described in the tie-ins. If I want to know why Hulk is angry at Stark, it looks like I need to read an entire separate miniseries. This gimmick is frustrating. Not only that, but this event has failed to hit on the personal level I hoped it would. No character is really developed and the dialogue isn’t personalized very well. I also found the script to be a bit choppy and jumpy. The pointless scenes with Strange and Panther’s teams could have easily been retracted from the story to avoid this. Aaron fails to explain how Captain America discovered that Midas was behind the Orb and Exterminatrix’s attack.
I usually don’t speculate in my reviews, but I’m going to take some guesses about the cliffhanger, which was easily the best part of the issue. I don’t think the Winter Soldier is the Watcher’s killer, and I think the character who killed Fury is an imposter. If Bucky had been present when the Watcher’s eye exploded and learned something terrible about Fury’s past, I would be convinced that he would kill him. But he didn’t. It looks like the mysterious character that assembled the teams is behind the Watcher’s death. I wonder if the man who was revealed to be watching the teams of heroes on Page 10 is the man who assembled them. Both are shadowed and colored similarly.
Lastly, Deodato’s art is excellent. He keeps on churning out top-notch, detailed are on a bi-monthly basis, which is very impressive. The hatching and shading sets the tone of this story very well and the panel layout is captivating. I was impressed by the horror and bloodiness Deodato showed during Fury’s assassination, particularly the 3x3 grid on Page 21.
Not enough happens, and I'm unimpressed that the event has failed to reveal anything major. The script is too choppy and there isn't any interesting character work. Deodato's art is still great. I'll give it one web for the art and one web for the thought-provoking cliffhanger.