Princess Leia #5 – Comic Review

In the final issue, Princess Leia rescues a friend almost lost to the empire, and inspires afraid and angry men and women to support her cause. Princess Leia #5 offers:

  • Detailed artwork
  • Character’s that address issues of prejudice and fairness
  • A strong ethic about the importance of making clear statements

Details in the artwork set up a strong atmosphere, and help show off key character moments. Silent moments are also brought out to help give the comic artwork a sense of pace and flow, with silent moments taking place just after dramatic actions.

Roughly in the centre of the comic, a space scene shows off a fleet of spaceships carrying Alderaanian people fleeing the empire. A massive Star Destroyer looms into view, and as Leia delivers a key speech, the comic jumps from ship to ship.

Evaan saves Leia from imperial storm troopers with a powerful blaster that fires bright purple light. They succeed in saving an other Alderaanian captive of the empire –  a woman named Jace. The lettering and laser light colour match in this panel. Definitely an effective design choice.

Another strong moment in the artwork is the planet Espirion. On this world, the skies are blue, but the people have bright crimson skin and facial markings.

There are some great moments in the artwork where characters are silent. The artwork captures a character’s face just moments after they have asked a telling question, or made a strong statement. Leia beams when she sees her friends again. One silent scene may be missing dialogue, however, as it appears Leia is saying something to her friend Evaan, but there is no speech bubble.

Conflict between Leia and Jora marks a key conflict in the comic. Leia brings a measured response to Jora’s prejudice and fears.

After the rescue of Jace from the imperial commander who held her captive, Leia confronts another problem. Jora is a prejudiced Alderaanian. Jora reacts badly on Espirion. Jora says “The sight of our world’s descendants with alien features — well, I wasn’t at all prepared…”

The source of prejudice is most often fear. Jora fears change. Under threat from the empire destroying Alderaan, and hunting down its surviving citizens, she is no doubt feeling some measure of terror. With so few people left, perhaps she fears losing what little of Alderaan culture, arts, and tradition is left. Regardless, Leia’s response to her prejudice is measured. Leia admits that sending Jora to Espirion to fine support was a mistake. Leia wanted adventure instead. Rescuing her friend Jace from the empire’s forces was more fun than diplomacy.

Through Leia’s interaction with Jora, there is significant character development.

Evaan’s character has also changed. A Rebel Alliance X-Wing pilot, Evaan once treated Leia very formally. After watching Leia almost abandon her Alderaan salvation plan just to rescue one, single life, Evaan says she considered Leia a friend, not a princess that she must serve.

Leia delivers a moving speech proclaiming the importance of wisdom and imagination over rage and fear. It’s her courage in standing up, and making a statement that is most important here.

Leia says, “we will defend ourselves. But we won’t land one blow more than necessary. We are not our enemy.” He speech inspires the dejected and offended leader of Espirion – a man named Beon – to save Leia’s people from being wiped out of the sky by an Imperial Star Destroyer.

Leia and Beon describe why her speech was important briefly toward the end of the issue. Beon comments that her speech describes the type of society that he wants to live in. And it does sounds good: Leia proclaims that Alderaan culture represents a world where fear is relieved with imagination, and wisdom takes helps calm rage. War is not an answer to conflict.

The only issue being that Beon has the Star Destroyer itself wiped out. Many people working for the empire don’t make it. This is the paradox of war. Defending a country from attack means being prepared to destroy enemies. Princess Leia #5 focuses more on what makes a good society rather than the double edge of war.

What’s most important about these final scenes in the comic is that Leia stood up and made a statement, with the assistance of R2D2 to expand the audience of listeners to be as wide as possible.

With a strong voice, Leia speaks up about her values in the face of impending attack.

There were alternatives. Like Jora, she could have made the mistake of disengaging. Isolation, and running away from the battle back to the Rebel Alliance could have been an option. Instead, she stood up onto a platform and made a statement. Presenting the ethic of making a stand in a clear way is where Princess Leia #5 excels.

Princess Leia #5 is published by Marvel Comics ($3.99USD) Mark Waid (Writer) Terry Dodson (Pencils) Rachel Dodson (Inks) Jordie Bellaire (Colourist) VC’s Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Cover artwork by Terry and Rachel Dodson.

Spider-Gwen #3 – Comic Review

In the Marvel Multiverse, Gwen Stacey receives great power from a spider bite on a parallel Earth. After meeting other Spider super heroes from across the multiverse, Spider-Gwen #3 follows Gwen Stacey’s adventures, and offers:

  • Action oriented artwork
  • Characters that show their values and take action
  • Themes of corrupted or abused power

Movement in Spider-Gwen is effective, and colours are used to build up an atmosphere
for the villains. A close point of view intensifies action scenes.

Force and movement are depicted strongly here, with every swing and punch thrown having palpable effect on the characters and objects in the panel. There’s great attention to the effects of opposing forces.

All the villains of the comic are associated with a deadly, yellow and green shade that first emanates from the Vulture’s toxic gas canisters, and carries over into the wide, empty goggles of Police Captain Frank Castle’s gas mask.

The position of the readers view into the comics moves from a first person perspective, through Spider-Gwen’s eyes, to mid shots, and then slowly out to wider shots. These large scale moments are saved for quiet, more reflective points in the story.

Gwen, Captain Stacey, and Vulture receive the most attention in this comic. Gwen shows creativity and recklessness while Captain Stacey values staying connected. Vulture is just toxic.

Gwen is a highly creative person. She improvises weapons from bowling pins and a trophy collected from her family living room. She webs these disparate items into nunchucks. Her attack on the vulture slows down his rapid assault. Recklessness is her downfall here. Taking on Frank Castle after the Vulture comes with a serious price – her secret identity may have been revealed.

An interesting point is that the Vulture begins talking about the Kingpin directly after Gwen’s bowling pin assault. The word “Kingpin” comes from a game in the same family of games as bowling, and bowls, called “Kayles”. Probably not intentional, but the scene does contain a play on words at some level.

Captain Stacey connects and stays close to the people he protects as a police captain. He insists on being in contact with people everyday. This is why he chooses to ride the subway on his daily commute. There’s some wisdom here: Stacey says “look someone in the eye, and you’ll see more than who they really are. You’ll learn who you are.” It’s difficult to understand since there are many interpretations. One interpretation: We need to others to relate to, speak to, and work with. Otherwise there is no gauge of who we are, what our limits are, and what our abilities are. It’s similar to the connectedness themes brought up in other Spiderman comics – Silk specifically.

Vulture’s costume has exhaust vents that expel toxic gasses everywhere he flies, granting him additional thrust when flying and cover. Vulture’s pollution makes him toxic to be around, in addition to his terrible ego.

A theme of abused or corrupted authority spins out of this comic. This clashes with Spider Gwen’s values, namely atonement, and taking responsibility. She returns to the Parker’s house for a moment of quiet and reflection.

There’s a scene early in the comic where Captain Stacy drops his gun and badge on the kitchen table when he arrives home. At the same time, he admits to Gwen that the Spider Woman case is “out of my hands”. There’s some wordplay with the comic images here, as Stacey admits to his lack of authority at the same time he puts down the symbols of that authority.

Frank Castle is a Police officer dressed in a blue shirt emblazoned with a giant white skull. Gwen comments he is holding “baby seal clubs”. The theme that spins out of these symbols is abused authority. Abused Power is another idea. Spider Gwen brings themes of responsibility and power along with other comics featuring spider powered super heroes. Spider Gwen appears to be examining what happens when power is corrupted or abused.

Gwen reacts recklessly because this abuse of power runs completely against her own values of fairness and atonement. When fighting Frank Castle, she rails against perverted newspaper writers and “jack-booted fascists”. Retreating to Peter Parker’s empty room – blacked out and quiet since Peter Parker passed away in this universe – Gwen reflects in silence. Her next move is a mystery.

It’s possible she returns to Parker’s room since her reason for becoming Spider Woman is to atone for being unable to prevent Peter’s death despite her abilities. It’s also possible that Peter’s Aunt and Uncle could help give her the direction and support she needs.

Spider-Gwen #3 is published by Marvel Comics ($3.99 USD). Jason Latour (W.) Robbi Rodriguez (A.) Rico Renzi (C.) VC’s Clayton Cowles (L.) Cover artwork by Robbi Rodriguez.

Batgirl #40 – Comic Review

With only limited time to save Burnside, Barbara Gordon will need to confront a dark reflection of herself. Batgirl #40 offers:

  • Expert artwork building a convincing environment.
  • Insight into Batgirl’s character.
  • Themes on digital footprints, and technology topics.

This issue contains spoilers for Batgirl #40

A key flash back scene contrasts colour with character facial expression, while artwork in a large scale scene shows strong attention to detail and expert environment building.

The outdated online presence of Barbara Gordon returns to cause problems in the present. A flashback scene early in the comic captures the inception of Barbara’s angry reflection. The page is suffused with a light blue screen tone, which contrasts effectively with Barara’s anger. Forced to explain what she is doing on her laptop to her friend Frankie, Barbara’s anger grows with each panel on the page. It’s one exaple of how the artwork in this comic expertly conveys characters, and creates a credible and authentic environment for the characters to inhabit.

A two page spread shows off the dynamic environment of Burnside in the centre of the comic. At Black Canary’s gig, a crowd of people, some named characters, wait in anticiaption for the show to begin. Strong attention to detail here means each character is drawn with their own fashion sense. Bystanders in the crowd all appear unique.

The battle against dark, digital Barbara continues past this large scale scene – the artwork depicts Batgirl’s reflection as slowly becoming less coherent. It eventually looks less like an angry copy, and more like a barely recognisable face. Angry and destructive emotion twists it into something terrible. Regardless of who it was at the beginning, the creation is warped by destructive emotion into something else.

Batgirl and Frankie – a friend of Barbara – confront Dark Barbara in a conflict which gives insight into Batgirl’s personality, and shows Frankie’s technology expertise. Black Canary also receives some attention.

The Dark Barbara remains locked in the moment it was built. Copied from Barabara’s thought patters when she recovered from her acute lumbar spine injury, it is filled with her anger. The creation does not change. Despite everything that it observed since it entered the internet, it is unable to grow beyond the anger that fuels it. When attempting to imitate a cheerful Batgirl, the creation stutters, and chooses unusual sentences. The effort to be anything other than angry taxes far too many resources, and the creation’s limted emotion intelligence.

This gives a great insight into Batgirl herself. If she is not cautious, her anger can lead her into becoming a villain, attempting to use algorithms and social media data to predict future behavior, which is Dark Barbara’s plan.

When Barbara’s friend Frankie confronts the dark, online reflection, Frankie shows impressive skills foiling it’s plans. The conflict between Batgirl, Dark Barbara, and Frankie escalates when Frankie talks about Dark Barbara as a figment from a dark time in Barbara’s life. The clear connection to reality here is when any content posted online when upset, angry, or furious returns to cause problems in the future.

Black Canary receives attention in this comic, using her stage presence and powerful sonic abilities to help Batgirl protect Burnside.

Several topics – artificial intelligence, surveillance, identity theft – brought up in Batgirl #40 create two value comments: taking care of digital footprints since they can have long term consequences, and making time to acknowledge pain, rest and heal, and grow networks of friends for support.

Artificial intelligence blends well with social media and online identity in this comic. Without making burdensome comments about a specific generation or group of people, Batgirl #40 recruits technology related topics to tell a story. Through Batgirl, the impact of digital footprints is explored. Surveillance and identity theft are also brought into the story.

Through Barabara’s past and Frankie’s attack on Dark Barbara, the negative emotions that can cause problematic digital footprints emmerge. Surveilance is added to this set of themes when the Hooq. technology is introduced as a side plot. Using surveillance drones. Hooq monitors social activity online and in public, making a record of behaviour. Combined with Dark Barbara’s intentions in this comic, the use of surveilance data to attack and control groups of people appears in a strongly negative light.

With Dark Barabara also intending to steal Batgirl’s persona, identity theft appears. Through these topics, the comic reveals a value: that digital footprints can have destructive negative consequences. How Batgirl handles the problems is essential: she uses logic, combined with a positive mission statement – every dark moment that she went through acts as motivation to help the people of Gotham today. Batgirl acknowledges the importance of making time to heal from past hurts, and from making friends.

in Black Canary and Frankie, she has made skilled and talented friends. This acknowledgement of past hurts, and statements about healing and community building are a strong value to end the themes built in the current story arc of Batgirl comics.

Batgirl #40 is published by DC comics ($2.99 USD) Cameron Stuart and Brendon Fletcher (W.) Babs Tarr (A.) Maris Wicks (C.) Jared K. Fletcher (L.) Cover artwork by Cameron Stuart.

Thor #6 – Comics Review

The mystery of “who is the new Thor?” unfolds while closing in on a suspect. Thor #6 offers:

  • Strong choice of colour and details.
  • Strong character connection scenes.
  • Themes of the environment, and identity.

This issue contains minor spoilers for Thor #6

Colour throughout the comic builds up a specific tone for each scene. Background details in the comic show off key points of identity for Roz Soloman and Dario Agger.

While early scenes in the comic deal with Dario Agger’s past, a scene on Asgardia shows off the miraculous colours of the Bifrost bridge, and gold clockwork that drive Asgard’s connection between worlds.

Colour effectively lays out the main emotional moments of the comic. Dario Agger’s past is painted with black and blood red. Thor takes down a horde of trolls under fiery orange light. Thor, hammerless, laments his loss of worthiness, and sombre blue light floods the page. Jane Foster rests in the Asgardian Hall of Medicine, which is surrounded by Sakura pink trees. Their colour and falling petals set a romantic tone when hammerless Thor visits Jane during her rest.

Background details in the art are also effective. Dario Agger and Ros Solomon both have forms of identification turn up as background art. Ros’ SHEILD identity card appears in one scene. Agger is surrounded by framed, poster sized copies of his appearances on the covers of Forbes, the New York Bulletin, Fortune, and Time. Agger has a tiger skin thrown casually over an expensive couch in his office. His ego, and disdain for the environment laid down in past Thor comics continues in Thor #6

Several key connections between characters are made here, which speeds their development: Dario Agger and Malekith, Thor and Jane Foster. Thor meets with a popular SHIELD agent on his search for the new Thor.

Malekith of Svartalheim discusses a business deal with Dario Agger. Heimdall hints at the significants of this connection. He
observes many meetings and events that he passes on to the hammerless Thor. But hammerless Thor is far more interested in identifying the name and face of the new Thor.

The woman wielding mjolnir is mostly absent from this comic. With the help of a popular SHIELD agent, Thor crosses names off his list – yes, he has made a list of women he thinks are the new Thor – and moves toward the last name of that list.

Thor’s handwriting is excellent, which belies the savage fighting style he has adopted when wielding his axe, Jarnbjorn. without the hammer, Thor’s loss of identity grows further in this issue. Jane Foster comments on his taking of the name “Odinson”. She says “you’re so much more than just your father’s child.”

While the environment themes continue here, identity emerged as a large theme – connections and ties with others builds identity rather than only names, property, or physical attributes.

The large scale environment theme still continues, linking this comic together with recent Thor comics. Dario Agger is not interested in the wildlife found on Malekith’s world. He only wants to know if elves ever drill for oil.

Identity is a larger, new theme that is brought out in this comic. Property, physical appearance, talents, and names are all mentioned or appear while Thor searches for the identity of the new Thor. The comic collects together all the items that a person might use to define their identity.

A value emerges close to the end of the comic. Apart from names, property, and appearance, connections with others that define identity. What catalyses and mobilises a person’s identity, or even god’s in this case, is connections. Thor’s identity is clarified when he meets with Jane. Malekith and Dario Agger

A QR code that appears on Jane Foster’s SHEILD identification card is a link to her marvel.wikia.com page

Thor #6 is published by Marvel Comics ($3.99 USD) Jason Aaron (W.) Russel Dauterman (A.) Matthew Wilson (C.) VC’s Joe Sabino (L. & P.) Cover artwork by Dauterman and Wilson.

Klarion #5 – Comic Review

The gifted witch boy Klarion fights against what he sees as an undisciplined foe. Klarion himself is not a hero, however, and shuns responsibility when it suits him. Klarion #5 offers:

  • Unorthodox but effective art choices.
  • An interesting central character.
  • A discipline versus easy power theme
  • The message: technology use must be responsible at the very least.

Despite opening with strange dialogue, unorthodox but effective panel arrangements provide strong and colourful images. With clever wordplay, the comic closes with a powerful scene for Klarion.

The comic opens with a flurry of strange new words. The language might be confusing at first. The comic introduces the characters inside Klarion’s pocket universe. Panel arrangements are unorthodox, but well chosen. Space on the page is balanced with small dialogue balloons.

Overall, the layout presentation is strong. Detailed choices, such as the use of dark blue with bright red and yellow contrast well with some neon bright highlights around large, weird shapes in the background of Klarion’s pocket universe.

Other key details contained in the comic include a clever use of wordplay, and hard, harsh lines around panels for scenes with the villain of the comic contrasted with softer, curved lines for scenes with more heroic, magical characters.

As an examples of the wordplay, Klarion digs through data to find information on the villain on the comic – a time traveller named Coal – saying “I need dirt on Coal”.

The final page shows Klarion summoning a flock of ravens. His pre-battle speech brings together all the themes of the comic. Hundreds of black birds engulfed in light fly around him as he summons a bolt of blue lightening.

Technology versus magic makes up the core conflict of the comic. Through Klarion’s fight with Coal, a theme of discipline versus easy power emerges. Consumers who take Coals technology have a strange experience ahead of them.

The narrative conflict of the comic is Klarion choosing to face off against Coal. The villain Coal comes from the future, and is using powerful technology from that time period. His technological gift is eaten, which grants the consumer some useful abilities. Things become strange when the buddy bot system activates, and a tiny, rapidly growing android slips out of the consumers left palm.

It’s interesting to see right down to the core of the comic’s idea. Arthur C. Clarke’s statement that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” is the kernel idea here.

There is a sub-narrative about artificial intelligence, and parenting. It’s this sub-narrative that helps build Klarion as an anti-hero. It’s interesting Klarion would criticise Coal for selling a technology that gives easy power without discipline since he consumes the Buddy Bot system himself for extra power, but walks away from the responsibility and duty of care that comes when his own Buddy Bot emerges.

Technology used irresponsibly without discipline is shown as a dangerous addiction. Useful sorcery is shown as an exact discipline. If the two are not so different, with magic being explained as advanced tech, a message that tech must be used responsibly plays out.

Technology squaring off against magic, in this comic, brings out theme of discipline versus easy power. Klarion’s point of view gives all the information needed to build up this theme. While he is a conflicted anti-hero, and potentially an unreliable narrator, his perspective is consistent.

He compares magic and sorcery to the exactitude and discipline of learning to play an instrument, moreover conduct an orchestra. Magic is put on the same level as forces of nature, and the disciple and industry of Daedulus, the inventor mention in Greek myth concerning the Minotaur, the flight of Icarus.

Technology is compared to Icarus flying to fly to quickly, and burning up from harsh sunlight. Technology  is a drug, and a source of addiction.

It’s in these scenes placed through the narrative that themes of discipline versus easy power emerge. If the two are not so different, with magic being explained as advanced tech, a message that tech must be used responsibly plays out

It’s also worth pointing out that the Buddy Bot System that emerges from the consumer can be seen as similar to the Greek god Athena, who sprung forth from her father Zeus. Two references to Greek Myth in one comic appear here. A strange and weird story overall, but with an interesting theme, message, and character.

Klarion #5 is published by DC Comics ($2.99 USD). Ann Nocenti (W.) Trevor McCarthy and Szymon Kudranski (A.) Guy Major (C.) Pat Brosseau (L.) Cover artwork by Raymond Bermudez.

Batman Eternal #42 – Comic Review

Bluebird arrives in the latest, weekly instalment of the epic Batman Eternal story arc.Batman Eternal #42 offers:

  • Artwork with good use of body language and perspective
  • Contrast between two character to raise themes of control and Agency
  • References to Alice in Wonderland, a classic story featuring a female protagonist

This review contains minor character spoilers for Batman Eternal #42

The moment where the story shifts gear is captured when Harper Row dons a new hat. Body language and perspective contrast Harper Row and Stephanie Brown.

A powerful moment in the artwork takes place at a key turning point in the narrative. Harper Row dons the Mad Hatter’s green hat, taking his power away, and taking control of the army of slaves that he has under his thrall. A full page is devoted to Harper Row – now using the identity BlueBird – striking a pose, while tipping her newly own hat. She faces the reader,
tipping her hat, probably as a greeting gesture, since this is the first time she is using her new identity.

The artwork also contrasts Harper Row and Stephanie Brown. Row leaps onto the rooftop of the Mad Hatters Headquarters. Brown wakes up in a pristine bedroom.

Stephanie Brown’s house is eerily clean. The washed out peach light spread across the panels adds an unnerving tone to all the scenes where she interacts with her mother.

The body language drawn into the comic establishes themes of control. Harper row is confident, and snatches control from the Mad Hatter. Stephanie is drawn with forced perspective to appear smaller than the other characters around her.

Harper Row as Bluebird, and Selina Kyle as the new Kingpin – Queen – of crime both
have strong moments. Bluebird informs Red Robin it’s laughable that he could influence her: she choses when to act, and when not to.

Harper Row debut’s her new identity: Bluebird. This debut marks a turning point for the character, and ties into a plot point woven into the New 52 Batman storytelling back in Batman #28, which contained a small flash forward into the storyline of Batman Eternal. With this issue, the storytelling connects and catches up with those events.

The comic also explains how the Catwoman captured Stephanie Brown, and held her hostage. Selina Kyle appears in this issue to take Brown prisoner.

Red Robin also has a discussion with Bluebird about how much influence he had on her decision to act against the Mad Hatter’s plans. She says it is laughable that he influenced her: she chose to act, and makes her own decisions. Again, Harper Row takes control, and shows agency.

Themes of control are brought out in The Mad Hatter’s plan, and through contrasting
Row and Brown. With reference to Alice in Wonderland, the comic explores female protagonists with agency. It is likely Stephanie Brown will follow Harper Row, and similar build her own identity to reclaim control.

There’s a theme of control here. Including the Mad Hatter as the villain also adds an over-arching Alice in Wonderland theme to the storytelling.

Considering Brown is literally smothered by Catwoman‘s knockout chemical (soaked into a rag), and Harper Row takes the Hatter’s hat, and wears it herself, the contrast highlights the power of decision making, agency, and taking control. These two characters are opposites in this issue: one is empowered by her actions, and breaks out into a new identity. The other is controlled, and held down.

Catwoman’s role in the comic adds somewhat to the Alice in Wonderland theme. The super thief recently became a kingpin of crime – a queen of crime. It’s fits the theme that a Queen-like character would feature prominently. Particularly as an obstacle for Stephanie Brown to eventually overcome as a character who resembles Alice.

Harper Row seizes control, while Stephanie Brown is controlled by others. Further, adding a references to Alice in Wonderland explores storytelling with female protagonists.

It is likely that by contrasting Brown and Row, that Stephanie Brown will soon follow Harper Row in breaking out into her own new identity where she can retake control and agency.

Batman Eternal #42 is published by DC comics ($2.99 USD). Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV (Story.) Kyle Higgins (Script.)
Ray Fawkes and Tim Seely (C.W.) Jed Dougherty, Goran Sudzuka, Roger Robinson (A.) Lee Loughridge (C.) Steve Wands (L.)
Cover artwork by Reis, Prado, and Moon.

Avengers #40 – Comic Review

Black Panther has a long running legacy as King of Wakanda. In the Illuminati, he found both allies and enemies. This comic brings together a key set of plotlines running through Marvels’ Avengers comics.

This review contains spoilers for issue #40 of Avengers: key character interactions. Avengers #40 offers:

  • Thoughtful art choices and panel arrangements
  • Key character deveopments for the long running Avengers comics under the Marvel Now tag
  • Value placed in keeping principals despite circumstances becoming near-untennable

The blue lights of the Incursions events appear, and villains are appear with strong lettering and detail. Panels toward the end of the issue are thoughtful, and push the story forward to its conclusion.

Expansive blue light fills most of this issue. Blue colour has a special significance. It marks a type of incursion. Rapid atrophy of the multiverse brought on by two identical Earths colliding with each other are either red or blue coloured. Villains such as Proxima Midnight, Black Swan, and Thanos appear in this comic. Lettering and penciling artwork depicts these formidable characters in detail.

Strong artwork appears in the final sections of the comic.

Blackbolt speaks loudly. The force of his voice sends Namor flying off a platform. The art in the following scenes are emotional. Panels of equal size, dividing the page into a grid, break up the page. Each panel flashes between Namor and Black Panther, pushing everything forward to the final two pages.

Black Panther receives key character development. The endgame in chess from the beginning of the comic plays out toward the end.

There’s a legacy played out in this comic. A knife – Wakandan weaponry – is handed down from Black Panther, to Black Panther. The blade moves in and out of T’Challa’s (Black Panther himself) possession. Eventually, the knife gains a purpose more than legacy. T’Challa’s character grows in this issue. A plan he has put into place for a long time – a fragile plan that might fall down if variable do not work – comes together.

A quote from Doctor Doom on the endgame in chess placed in the opening pages plays out as T’Challa’s plan reaches its end. The final two pages fullfills the premise put into place by quoting Doom.

Other interesting character moments are Beast finding a new lesson to teach Cannonball and Sunspot – both former students, and Captain America growning weary with the Illuminati making plans around him and his team of SHIELD/Avengers heroes.

It’s not a spoiler to state the Three Kings (Namor, Black Bolt, and Black Panther) all play a key role in the comic’s finale. A comment is made: Characters who keep values in place, and those that don’t are contrasted.

Doctor Doom says “Once you know what your opponent is capable of, you can manipulate the board to engineer a successful endgame. A successful endgame is two strategies rolled into one. First, you show them what they guessed might have been coming. And then…you show them what they didn’t”.

T’challa showed Namor what was coming – a blade directed at him in revenge for the war Atlantis unleashed on Wakanda. What he did not know was coming, was a third king arriving. Black Bolt’s support of Black Panther against Namor tips the scales.

The plan Black Panther used, which Namor expected, was to trap the Cabal in a doomed universe, which was about to collide with the mainstream, Marvel Universe Earth (an incursion event). Through a contrast between Captain America and the Illuminati, the comic values perseverance, and keeping principals in place despite circumstances changing. Namor abandoned any code or ethics in an effort to save the Earth from repeated incursions. That plot line is brought down, to it’s eventual end.

Avengers #40 is published by Marvel comics ($4.99 USD). Jonathan Hickman (W.) Stefano Caselli (P.) Frank Martin (C.) VC’s Cory Petit (L.) Cover artwork by D. Keown and J. Keith.