Utilizing his incredible talent for high-concept science fiction and voicing intelligent characters, Jonathan Hickman takes the concept of a superhero Illuminati, and runs it all the way down the field.
Under constant threat from Incursions and the inter-dimensional adversaries they bring with them, the Illuminati reconstructs Reed Richards’ invention, the Bridge, to gain intelligence on the Mapmakers and the their masters, the Sidera Maris. Meanwhile, the Sorcerer Supreme barters at the Sinner’s Market for even more power.
It’s writers like Hickman that remind us why it’s good to be an Avengers fan and a comic book fan in general. I like it when my heroes are challenged, especially in ways that don’t feel phony, forced or trite, and in this, Hickman has overwhelmingly triumphed with a story that’s gripping, and characters compelling. For those unfamiliar with the impetus of Hickman’s series long story arc, simply put: there’s a catastrophic problem with the multiverse. During cosmic events dubbed “incursions,” the dimensional walls surrounding a random pair of parallel Earths are weakened, forcing both planets into the same space until they collide, with the resulting energy unleashed from their destruction great enough to annihilate the entire parent universe. This problem is systemic and ongoing, incursions can strike any pair of Earths, at any time. The only reliable solution? Once an incursion begins, one planet needs to be destroyed before both collide.
The Agamotto Gambit, successfully showcases the dreadful potential of the Mapmakers, much like the previous instalment did with the Black Priests. The Illuminati watch in horror as an alternate version of their group is butchered as if they were nothing, facing down a new creation of Hickman’s, for the second time in as many issues.
Simone Bianchi, replacing Steve Epting, does an adequate job on the art; unfortunately his dark and cluttered style make both the action and the story (constantly shifting between dimensions) difficult to follow at times, but he otherwise succeeds in particularly noteworthy scenes such as the demon filled Sinner’s Market and the deaths of the alternate universe Illuminati.
Fans of hard science fiction should definitely pick up this book, as should comic fans tired of the constant rehashing of the same old plots, and the constant recycling of old villains. Hickman is one of the few creators working that give us monthly, something fantastic and new, and you should definitely give it a read.