So this weird guy. With the head thing?
He showed up on Mars with these other weird dudes and grew plants and stuff. ON MARS. It was freaky. Plus, he shot these crazy bombs at Earth, which exploded into other weird stuff like plants that took over cities, eggs that were just sitting there making strange sounds…crap like that. It was all crazy strange, so the new and improved Avengers popped in for a visit to talk things over.
Ex Nihilo and his bros, after kicking the living hell out of the A-team, told them they were born to raze or remake wild worlds where they thought life held promise. So of course they chose Earth, using Mars as a staging area. The things they shot at the Earth were the beginnings of a new path of evolution, and they got this imperative from those they called “The Builders,” a race of beings who existed at the beginning of time and worshiped the Universe itself. Eventually, they said “screw it,” and started to reshape all the worlds they could. Because comics.
So while all this is happening they were already starting to grow a new human to populate their new Earth, and so they pulled this dude out of a bubbling womb or something.
This dude is Nightmask—but we don’t know it yet—and he’ll come up later, because he knows the plot and stuff. I think Hickman gave him the script. The ‘Venger Squad took him to earth too.
Okay, so remember those Earth-razing missiles of rebirth?
When they landed, they exploded biology all over the place, and the Ultraforce ran around trying to contain the crazy stuff that happened near the impact site. Also A.I.M. got one, and any time beekeepers get involved, you know it’s going to sting later.
They took it. That’s bad, so that’s a thing. Then we have a lot of backstory; where Smasher comes into the picture, the origins of crazy Captain Universe, Hyperion is here…I mean the Justice League got crazy big. After Captain America caught them all (and for some reason Spider-man was suddenly a jerk to everyone out of the blue) CRAZY HAPPENS AGAIN. Nightmask isn’t just a new type of human, he is the harbinger of “The White Event,” which occurs when a world is about to ascend! It creates beings to help in the change, but this Event got royally botched because the cool machine the Builders built got blown up REAL good:
So the White Event is supposed to create a protector for the planet while it changes and grows, but since this is a White Event that was screwed up, it chose a dude and gave him ultimate power even though he had no clue how to use it. Thus, Starbrand.
He and Nightmask were supposed to be the heralds of the new Earth that would have emerged from all of the stuff the Mars crew, the builders, well pretty much everyone was working towards, but since the machine is broken it spit out these dudes who are also broken. Seriously, its kind of getting to be a downer. But stuff blows up sometimes, and that’s always fun.
So ultimately Nightmask was SUPPOSED to be the new form of man meant to populate the new Earth, but was repurposed to be THE Nightmask, meant to help the Earth in its transition. But as we’re told, the system is falling apart like an old Chevy. To help matters along, Ex Nihilo actually tampered with the missile evolution bombs. Instead of improving life ON the planet, he decided what the hell, why not CREATE a planet that was one huge organism. So all the bombs changing life around them are actually making the Earth a dude, and that partially caused the screwed up system that made Starbrand and Nightmask. Yep!
You still with me? Good. Stay with me, Now its going to get kind of weird.
So we have the WildCATS running around trying to stop the Earth from becoming self-aware. The Skrulls are freaking the hell out because the universe is coming undone and they are running to Earth – and I don’t mean invading, I mean BOOKING IT. Tons of Skrull ships are being stopped before they can make landfall because they know earth always survives this sort of thing.
So that’s Avengers, our core book. Everything is screwy, the literal universe is coming apart at the seams. The Earth, when it should have been ascending to a new place in its evolution, is now becoming an actual sentient being, but its brain is being blown up and/or picked apart by its inhabitants. Think about your head lice taking parts of your brain for study. Good times.[divider]
BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. At the same time, we have New Avengers
This book focuses on the Illuminati, the six heroes who have taken it upon themselves to represent and try to control the flow of superhumans on Earth. Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Namor, Beast (Replacing Professor X), Reed Richards, and begrudgingly, Black Panther. These five try to solve the big problems in secret so the world doesn’t have to worry about them, and each also holds and hides away one of the infinity gems. No, it doesn’t really matter who has each one, yes they completely suck at hiding them, (oh Jesus yes will this become important later). But…ALERT! Something weird is happening in Wakanda!
An Earth that’s all red and stuff appears in the sky, and it’s totally freaking everyone out. Except no one but Wakandans can see it. Reed and the rest of the New Masters of the Universe show up and try to figure everything out. REED. What’s going on??
The Earth we’re seeing in the sky is another Earth from another dimension coming in checking out our turf. When two universes get too close they overlap at places that…well here, let’s look at the big board:
So not only is an alternate universe moving in, it’ll destroy one of us in the process. So the big brains make with the big braining, and come up with a way to destroy the other Earth, which was almost lifeless to begin with. Except for these dudes who hop from incursion to incursion on various Earths looking to kill stuff and take land and such. They aren’t that nice.
So really, everything that Hickman has written for almost a year is yelling out: EVERYTHING IS CRAZY OH GOD EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE.
So why do we care? New Avengers doesn’t really cross over with Avengers. Maybe the event is called Infinity because its about world destruction and universal upheaval? That seems logical. WELL GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER.
Due to all the upheaval, the Infinity Gems are unguarded, and Earth is basically ripe for the taking. Meaning a certain Mad God is about to pull all sorts of chicanery.
So all in all, everything is doomed unless our heroes can stop it and return things to normal. This storyline seems to be running through New Avengers and Avengers as well as in its own miniseries book. While reading ALL of it would be advisable (because Hickman is a mad genius) you can really get by with only reading the mini. There’s a lot of good art in those pages, and an invisible dude with, like, four arms and no face except for teeth! He eats secrets!!