New Avengers: Everything Dies and Infinity

I mentioned a few days ago that I was reading a series called New Avengers, and when I began considering what I could say that would be worth reading (a barrier to entry that you might say hasn’t stopped me before) I remembered some gaping plot points. A war is started and then shrugged off. A major cosmic villain appears and is suddenly neutralized behind the scenes. What am I missing?

I am missing another entire series that fills in the story. Why isn’t there a note at the end of one issue that the story continues in another series’, because when you finish issue 6 and pick up issue 7, you tend to expect the story to pick up with you.

Cover of New Avengers: Everything Dies by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting

I’m reading the 2014 New Avengers series by Jonathan Hickman, a four volume set. This is the first cover, showing Steve Epting’s excellent artwork. Each volume has a different lead illustrator; all of them impressive. In Everything Dies, seven heroes who aren’t necessarily Avengers, if that term means something, gather as the secret rulers of the known universe, the Illuminati (which is the only name that can be given to that sort of group, even if no one ever uses it).

They meet because Black Panther witnesses a woman, calling herself a black swan, jump to our planet from another one that hung perilously above. She then detonates the first one, and swoosh, all returns to normal. She claims there’s a natural order to the multiverse (infinite parallel universes, infinite parallel realities), and while everything will eventually die, something happened on an Earth in a universe somewhere that caused it to come to an untimely end. That weakened the walls between universes apparently, because it led to two universes touching each other at their point of Earth. As you’ve likely seen in the news, when two universes reject social distancing guidelines, they eliminate each other.

When universes are eliminated, it bothers people, particularly those who wear the same form-fitting suit to work everyday.

The other Earth that the black swan dropped from was an Earth in its own universe. Soon another one will appear in the sky, and if one of the two planets is not destroyed quickly, both universes will perish. The heroes begin work on an early warning system, hoping to give themselves eight hours to save one or both universes. And then someone remembers he has an old infinity gauntlet in his car trunk, and since they have all the infinity gems already, why not try using it?

I don’t know where they got the gems; they may come with their Illuminati cards. Of course, they don’t work.

Even before they power up the glove, the heroes talk of the possibility of necessary evil, that maybe they will have to destroy another Earth in order to save their own. And when it comes down to it, they destroy a planet that’s already dead, but they say they are doing an unthinkable act that will haunt them forever. Perhaps Hickman is reaching for a moral depth that’s a bit too far for this point in the story.

Later on, as the heroes show a commitment to all life being sacred, they face the increasing threat that they will have to choose to eliminate a perfectly normal Earth in order to save their own and the related universes. At one point a group of aliens ask them to consider eliminating every Earth in every universe in order to save everything else.

But this commitment to life is compromised by terrestrial warring. Maybe this shows conflicting allegiances or that some of the Avengers are not fully committed to saving every possible life. In the first issue, we’re told Namor, king of Atlantis, has fought against Wakanda and killed many people. T’Challa, the Black Panther and no longer king of his African nation, says he will kill Namor when the time is right. Months later their nations are at war with each other apparently for political reasons that are entirely independent of the heroes. Why aren’t the other Avengers at least arguing that this is unacceptable?

I suppose I’m looking for coherence or moral clarity where there isn’t meant to be.

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