Avengers #43 Review: Invasion And Redemption


It’s a clear example, perhaps the best one to date, of the epic scale on which Jonathan Hickman has constructed the “Time Runs Out” arc that an invasion by multiple alien races is the least of the problems facing our heroes in Avengers #43.

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That’s not to say the Shi’ar-led coalition, reluctantly attempting to destroy our planet, isn’t a big deal. It clearly is. It’s just that it kind of pales in comparison to the end of all that is, which is waiting around the corner. To have even a hope of fending off the combined armada orbiting the planet, several contingency plans are put into effect, some of which were put into effect during the “Rogue Planet” arc that kicked off back in Avengers #24.

Another subplot explored here is the fate of Tony Stark, who we last saw being left to rot by Black Widow and Spider-Woman. The so-called Superior Iron Man had hit rock bottom at that point, but he gets a chance to be a player before this all wraps up, which is fitting. Even though this version of Iron Man is the most unlikable yet (and full disclosure, that’s coming from a lifelong fan), it wouldn’t be right to leave him sitting in an energy cube for the climax.

Along the way, Hickman mixes in some important character bits with Smasher, Mr. Fantastic, Steve Rogers, and even Gladiator of the Shi’ar. I don’t think he always gets the balance right between action and character, having to lean too far in one direction or the other on many occasions over the course of his long run on this title, but Hickman does well blending them here.

As for Mayhew, his art doesn’t really stand out to me from the other men who have worked on this book during “Time Runs Out,” and that’s meant as a compliment. No jarring style changes makes for a good reading experience even while rotating pencillers, and that’s what we’ve had.

We even get a cliffhanger of sorts, one made extra special by the idea that even if the Avengers save the day, it’s only going to be a temporary reprieve. We’ve known the outcome of this story from the beginning, but there’s still fun in seeing how we get to the final defeat.


Two weeks ago, the Illuminati met to decide Tony Stark’s fate. In a rare moment of semi-humility, he admits to being wrong (kind of), but he asks to be freed so he can die for something. T’Challa grants him his request and tell him to “Die well.”

Gladiator has a message for all the people of Earth. He’s giving the order to the alien armada to destroy the Earth in hopes of staving off the final Incursion, but out of respect to the planet’s heroes, he’s giving everyone two hours to make his peace. Awfully nice of him.

Reed Richards and Steve Rogers have a bit of a heart to heart, with Mr. Fantastic revealing that Tony had been working on a remote control system of sort for the Planetkiller ship captured during Infinity. Elsewhere, Smasher asks for and receives permission from Gladiator not to fight against her own people. She learns about Sunspot’s plan to use the power of the Earth itself, channeled through some of his satellites, as a weapon against the alien ships.

That thermal ray plus the Planetkiller (with Black Widow manning the remote control like some kind of cosmic video game) take down a lot of alien ships, but the facility powering Sunspot’s weapon eventually overloads, and sheer numbers doom the Planetkiller once Annihilus sends his hordes into the fray.

That’s bad, but the Illuminati have a few more cards to play. One is the rogue planet, which they activate, phasing around the Earth. The other is Iron Man, who is ready to activate Sol’s Hammer. Well, if there was ever a time for it, this would be it.

Favorite Moment: While admitting that he’s just a tick smarter than Tony, Reed sums up the differences between them in eloquent fashion while talking to Steve:

“It’s fractional, but I am smarter than he is. However, I have a tendency to be single-minded. One problem, one solution. Mister Stark, on the other hand, is this world’s greatest multitasker. He can focus on one problem — say, the end of our universe — and at the same time be working on another.”

Final Thought: Something that’s crossed my mind throughout this arc hit me again reading this issue: after we’ve played for such super high stakes in this series under Hickman, it’s going to take one heck of a writer to guide the post-Secret Wars adventures of the Avengers. Fortunately, Marvel isn’t likely to hand the keys to anyone but an A-list talent, so we should be alright. One issue to go …

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