The end draws closer and closer with each issue of New Avengers. And of course by end, I mean the next Marvel event that will shake things up a bit and then bring everything back to status quo with a few new developments lingering.
… Anyways, let’s see what happens in the latest New Avengers. Is it good?
New Avengers #31 (Marvel Comics)
So Dr. Strange and his new genocidal Black Priest friends decide to break into the Library of Worlds to get at Radum Alal — the Great Destroyer, apparently. And so they do… and they wander around and eventually Strange meets Alal. Then they talk about the Beyonders and that’s it.
Clearly turning Dr. Strange into a character that commits genocide and kills people has only made his character more likeable.
New Avengers #31 is much like the last two issues of the series; basically, a lot of nothing story-wise until the end when the writer reveals the next “OH-MY-GOSH” big reveal for the issue. Otherwise, there’s not much else to chew on or take away from the issue other than “Dr. Strange and pals enter the Library of Worlds and fight a bit.” It’s not particularly compelling, since we really don’t learn anything new besides the end reveal and any potentially interesting element about the library is montaged through (also, for something as vast and incomprehensible as Strange claims it is, nothing about this library seems all that special or hard to grasp). Pretty much the entire issue rides on whether or not you find the reveal and ending interesting…
Speaking of which, I’m mixed about the reveal. On one hand, it’s nice that this big villain is really someone we already know. If it was a completely new character, it probably wouldn’t have any impact and seem kind of silly that a character this powerful has gone unnoticed until just this run. On the other hand, the character who ends up being the Great Destroyer… isn’t that impressive revelation-wise and feels a bit underwhelming (it seriously was this person? Two whole years just for this?). Not particularly as shocking as it is puzzling and only raises more questions. Also, to quickly touch upon the ending for a second, the comic ends with two of Hickman’s Beyonders showing up to fight Sunspot, Thor, and Hyperion. This might seem like it will be an interesting fight, but Hickman sort of wrote himself into a corner. Given the fact that these Beyonders have just killed some of the most powerful figures in the multiverse just last issue, it would strain believability for these three characters to stand a single chance against them. It’s not a matter of if they can beat them, but a matter of how much is going to be left of these three characters when the Beyonders are done with them.
The ultimate library’s tool to keep people quiet.
As for Hickman’s writing, there’s not much too really say here. The pacing is okay, but it feels rushed in areas (like the one page montage through this “vaunted” library to Dr. Strange being abruptly defeated off panel and being dragged to Alal). The dialogue is dull and unengaging, with everyone speaking in the same manner and tone. The tone tries to make the book feel more epic and grand in scale, but considering how limited the scope and focus is in the issue (really not showing all that much), there’s ultimately not much to take away or get invested in. The characterization is limited to a montage fight seen where Dr. Strange has an inner monologue about himself and that’s it. The comic just feels so unexciting and the writing is just not able to make this issue any bit thrilling as it should be.
What holds New Avengers back even more is the artwork. Kev Walker returns to the comic and his artwork is just… well, average looking. The characters, despite having some interesting designs, look rather cartoonish or silly. For instance when (Thor appears at the end of the comic, he looks ridiculous with how exaggeratedly long his beard and hair are). The action feels very static, unpolished, and goofy, especially with all of the expressions that Strange makes. The location, areas, and imagery within the book are just rather dull and unimpressive looking — despite how the characters talk and refer to them with reverence. The style Walker has just doesn’t match the tone the book wants to have and it makes the book feel and look like generic and typical hero work.
Is It Good?
New Avengers #31 is a comic that is slowly limping forward towards Secret Wars. Not much really happens in it until the ending and even then, the big reveal for the issue is a mixed bag. The writing is just slightly below average and the artwork is just not capable of properly conveying the tone and feel that the story wants. There’s just not much left but to hope that somehow this comic turns around very quickly.