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Avengers #40: Review

Jan 2015
Jonathan Hickman, Stefano Caselli

Story Name:

We three kings

Review & Comments

0 stars

Avengers #40 Review by (January 28, 2015)
#35-39 and New Avengers #24-28 have been a shared more-or-less continuous story. But #39 and NAv#28 constituted a single action in that story which this issue continues. The cover is the 1st to bear a Secret Wars logo. But it's also the latest entry in the dept of misleading covers:- At no point in this issue does Thanos fight any of Black Panther, Captain America, Invisible Woman and Sub-Mariner. But the issue title of course refers to Black Bolt, Black Panther and Namor. Stefano Caselli continues to alternate with Mike Deodato as artist. The cast page is accurate this time. Beast/Black Bolt/Black Panther/Hulk/Mr Fantastic are here for the Illuminati, but Captain Britain has been forgotten about. As has the alternate Hulk. Sub-Mariner is considered part of the Cabal, who are all here. Captain Marvel and Steve Rogers represent the SHIELD Avengers, with Captain America and Hawkeye hanging around in the background. Invisible Woman is still listed as with them. Sunspot's New Avengers also have Black Widow and Cannonball (and some AIM guys). Spider-Woman's there too, but just standing around in a skin-tight costume. No Mighty Avengers apart from CA are depicted. But Medusa is here for no useful purpose. Black Panther's beef with Sub-Mariner is because he tried to drown Wakanda in Avengers vs X-Men. Everyone else just hates him because he's been blowing up alternate Earths. (Despite the fact, as has been repeatedly stated, this saves *both* universes.) Cap's beef with the Illuminati is that they created the anti-matter bombs that Namor and the Cabal have been using to destroy Earths. But it's really that they tampered with his mind so he wouldn't remember what they were doing. When Maximus talks about knowing what to expect in this incursion he says cryptically "I know what they know". This suggests to me that his knowledge comes from the Illuminati (whether they know about it or not).

Hands up who believes we've just seen the end of Sub-Mariner and Thanos. Or even Maximus. Black Swan saw Namor deserting the Cabal. Maximus, again cryptically, has his 'lexicon of hope'. And Thanos is Thanos. Previously I would have relied on this being turned into an alternate timeline. But now it seems it's a setup for the new Secret Wars.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #40 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The previously page is full of bits from New Avengers. #21 The ghost of T'Challa's father asks why he hasn't killed Sub-Mariner yet. #24 Namor asks Dr Doom to help control his world-killing Cabal. #28 All the various Avengers factions are in conflict when Invisible Woman reveals herself as a traitor to Steve Rogers and SHIELD. She imprisons in separate force field cages every combatant except her husband Mr Fantastic. And then Namor and Black Bolt show up to rejoin the Illuminati.

But in this issue we 1st have a flashback to T'Challa's boyhood when his father passes on a ceremonial dagger.

Now Black Bolt and Sub-Mariner join Mr Fantastic, Invisible Woman and Medusa (who turned up late with IW). Black Panther, who also seems to be free of a cage, demands to know why Namor is here. Reed Richards asks T'Challa to trust him on this.

Steve Rogers also has a demand, that Sue Richards set him free. She says she'll do it as long as he'll listen to Reed and the others. He gives them 5 minutes and she drops all the cages.

Ms Marvel wants to know how Sue fooled all the SHIELD psi screening. Reed is happy to launch into an explanation of how he arranged it, but angry Steve doesn't want to hear it. (And it saves the writer having to make something up.)

Beast cuts to the chase - they have a plan to get rid of the Cabal. Sunspot is more concerned about solving the problem of the incursions of other Earths (which the Cabal have been destroying to save this universe). Beast says they can do that too.

Rogers wants it made clear that providing these solutions won't absolve them for what they've already done. (The Illuminati prepared means to destroy Earths, and Namor's Cabal used them.) Sub-Mariner says that it was necessary and he would do it all again, but also that it was wrong and he will face his punishment. Beast and Mr Fantastic sort-of agree. But Panther, king of the Wakandans, won't surrender himself to judgement.

Reed tries to get past this impasse by revealing that an incursion is due in 2 hours. And the plan requires Namor to make sure all the Cabal are there (because they don't all go on every mission).

2 hours later Sub-Mariner is in the Wakandan Necropolis which the Cabal have made their base (because that's where the Illuminati's anti-matter bombs are stored). He broaches the subject of the mission crew, but Thanos has already decided that everyone will go this time. Because Maximus has discovered that the situation is getting worse. (In NAv#26 we heard that the invading alternate universes are taking longer go away after their Earths are destroyed - which is now being interpreted as the end of the multiverse getting nearer?)

The whole team (including Black Swan, Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight and Terrax) teleport with 1 of the bombs to the other Earth. They are expecting the Sidera Maris this time. Black Swan reminds them that they must stop the Sidera Maris from summoning the Mapmakers. (Although mad Maximus suggests they let them do it just for variety.) The armoured (cyborg? robotic?) soldiers appear, and battle commences.

But we avert our eyes for another T'Challa flashback to when his sister Shuri took over as Black Panther and leader of the Wakandans. He gave her the sacred blade.

Meanwhile Beast, Black Panther, Black Widow, Cannonball, Invisible Woman, Mr Fantastic, Steve Rogers, Sub-Mariner and Sunspot have taken their discussion inside (where?).

Henry McCoy and Reed Richards explain that they've learned to predict incursions to within a few hours, and so were able to plan this encounter to coincide with 1. (They deliberately let the SHIELD Avengers find them last issue.) They also know what kind of incursion they'll face - Sidera Maris and Mapmakers this time, which as usual will involve and already-dead Earth. Namor will lead the Cabal there, the villains will be destroyed along with the other Earth, and then the Illuminati will surrender for trial.

Natasha Romanoff wants to know what's to stop the Cabal escaping from the exploding planet. Beast explains that Sunspot gave him the solution to that (after Hank went to him for help in #38). Da Costa's AIM designed a force shield intended to keep 2 Earths from touching, which should then save both planets and both universes. It turned out not to be strong enough for that, but it will keep the Cabal from returning home.

3rd and last of T'Challa's flashbacks - to NAv#24 where Shuri handed the knife back to T'Challa after the destruction of Wakanda. We now understand its significance, and that she wants him to kill Sub-Mariner with it.

Now Doc Green checks that the Cabal are engaged in battle on the other Earth (using a large and powerful hand-telescope!). AIM scientists launch a platform carrying the force-shield device. Namor arms the anti-matter bomb and jets (somehow) away from the planet (noticed by Black Swan). And Sue Richards notices that Panther is missing.

Subby reaches the AIM platform only to find T'Challa there. Who stabs him with the sacred dagger. Namor contemptuously removes the knife and snaps it in 2. But Panther says that's not what's going to kill him.

Black Bolt teleports to the platform and shouts at Sub-Mariner. This of course knocks him off the platform and he crashlands on the other-Earth below. Black Panther activates the restraining shield after Subby has left. He gives Namor time to realise what's going to happen to him, and then renmte-detonates the anti-matter bomb.

The 2 'heroes' flee the exploding planet and return to their comrades on Earth. Panther calmly announces that Namor won't be coming back.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Stefano Caselli
Stefano Caselli
Frank Martin
Dale Keown (Cover Penciler)
Dale Keown (Cover Inker)
Jason Keith (Cover Colorist)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Invisible Woman
Invisible Woman

(Sue Storm)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

Plus: Cannonball.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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