Graphic Novel Review: Avengers: The Last White Event, Prelude to Infinity

Avengers: The Last White Event

Avengers: The Last White Event - Credit: Archant

The Avengers find themselves in the eye of the storm as ancient cosmic powers turn their attention towards the Earth...

Avengers: Prelude to Infinity

Avengers: Prelude to Infinity - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

Avengers writer Jonathan Hickman is a man with a plan. His vision for the development of the Avengers is only gradually playing out now as we head towards the cosmic crossover Infinity, but even that epic is just one beat in an elaborate arc which is set to redefine the Avengers teams’ place in the Marvel Universe.

The seeds of this storyline were sown in the first collection of this current series (Avengers World), which saw a trio of ancient and all-powerful Builders arrive on Mars with the intention of terra-forming the Earth into a humanity-free utopia using devastating “Origin Bombs”. Their actions are part of a wider plot which encompasses the White Event, an inexplicable flash of brilliant light which is the catalyst for the creation of new superpowered beings.

Universes are dying, and in order to save the mainstream Marvel reality of Earth 616, a White Event is triggered, leading to the birth of a Star Brand and a Nightmask, two immensely powerful beings who are possibly the last, best hope of preventing the destruction of everything…

Meanwhile, a signal is being sent from the sites of the Origin Bombs, broadcasting outwards into the depths of space, and the Earth begins to communicate with something older than human civilisations, a development which will have devastating consequences in the future…

And how do the Avengers fit into all of this? Like the audience, they begin from a position of ignorance, and as their investigations continue we both learn more about what is happening here. But just in case all of these cosmic shenanigans are making your brain hurt, Hickman takes time for intervals focused on more atypical superhero activities, and uses point-of-view characters like Cannonball and Sunspot to provide humour and grounding.

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By the time we reach the end of the third volume the pace of events has picked up dramatically, with more revelations surrounding the Builders, the involvement of terrorist organisation AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics) in exploiting the Origin Bombs, and the first inklings of what the Infinity crossover will mean for the Earth and its assorted superheroes.

The sheer scope of what Hickman is trying to achieve here has led to unfair criticism that everything before Infinity is little more than laying the groundwork. In fact, his vision will probably only be appreciated when this run comes to an end and we have the benefit of hindsight to perceive how different elements were brought together into a coherent narrative. At this stage in the proceedings there are still far more questions than answers, but that shouldn’t prevent the reader from jumping onboard for the ride as the connections between apparently disparate elements start to become clear.

Give it time, this is shaping up to be one of the all-time great Avengers epics…