Jonathan Hickman navigates between two Earths as he chronicles the continuing saga of the Illuminati's struggle to keep their world from coming to an end. Earth-23099's time is up, but this won't stop their world's version of the Illuminati from going up against the incursion wall. Meanwhile, the Illuminati of Earth-616 consult with Black Swan in the Necropolis about the variables or "needs" to be met for stopping the incursion wall on their side of the universe. She believes all the problem-solving to be fruitless because there is no escaping Earth's fate. She also reveals that the Builders whom they defeated during Infinity are not the real threat. This complicates things.
The two-page spread of a not-to-be-disturbed* Dr. Strange meditating in the Sanctum Sanctorum seemed to be a foreshadow of ominous things to come for the Sorcerer Supreme. These two pages featured Simone Bianchi's best illustrations in the issue, including the cover. Is Stephen Strange crossing into deeper, darker territory in his quest to find himself and his place in the world? I predict that at some point down the line, the Avengers will have to deal with Dr. Strange as a foe because of his descent into darkness. However, he may be the key to defeating the Black Priests who helped bring about the destruction of Earth-23099.
Overall, I really didn't care for most of the art in this issue. Bianchi's cover art was great, but her panel-work did not work for me. Why it did not shine here as opposed to in, let's say, "Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight," I'm not sure. Other than that two-page spread I mentioned before, some panels seemed rushed. I'm sure for many artists squeezing multiple characters into one panel can be challenging. This means drawing them smaller. To ensure that each character has some semblance of him or herself in those panels enlists time and effort from illustrators that deadlines have no patience for. So I appreciated Bianchi's attempt to tell this leg of Hickman's story, but her art was a distraction at times.
There wasn't much "Inhumanity" in this issue other than the fact that Maximus the Mad had ascended to the throne of Attilan on Earth-23099. The terrigenesis bomb detonated there as well, awakening a lost generation of Inhumans the world had never known. Readers witnessed these new beings fall to the Black Priests whom Earth-23099's Illuminati was attempting to stop. They too fall. Moreover, the revelations about the threat and about Earth-616's Illuminati's witnessing the destruction of another version of Earth were not "earth-shattering." It's disappointing that the whole Infinity-thing was not the end of the drama, which brings into question for me whether or not these incursions are truly the "end of the world as [they] know it."
So what will the clandestine, elite team of heroes do to stop these incursions? We'll have to find out in the following issues. "New Avengers 13.INH" is worthwhile because of the narrative Hickman's established since issue one. However, it's a story that can prove rather hard to break into for new readers.
*See "New Avengers no. 12"
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