Dammit Marvel, stop being good. In a horrifically risky move, Marvel's latest complete event is actually more than one story. First off, the Avengers are blasted off into space when a stunningly powerful race of beings called The Builders emerge and start making a B line for Earth, conquering or destroying everything in their path. While the Avengers are away Thanos sets his sights on the planet Earth since with the greatest threats to him off planet, our little blue marble is ripe for the taking. The scope of this work cannot be understated as it straddles the line of Cosmic Level Marvel and Earth Level Marvel simultaneously. While Thanos is demanding the heads of Inhuman children Captain America is fighting in space using a Black Hole as a trap.
Of critical importance to this story is the currently running universe collisions story in New Avengers that started with Everything Dies. The Builders are on their way to Earth because the best way to prevent the whole of our reality being destroyed is to just blow up the Earth (Read either my review of the story, or the story itself. This makes sense, trust me.). Basically, the Builders created and cultivated all live in the universe. Advanced beyond imagining they have spent eons advancing life that showed promise and destroying that which did not. When the parallel realities are about to destroy all of their work, they go to solve the problem as only the makers of empires would. Fix the issue and damn the squawking fools that get in the way.
The event was effective at many different stages. Epic scenes of battle, defeat and hopelessness. Chilling villains in the form of Thanos's Black Order and the revelation of not only Thanos's son, but also of the disparate tribes of Inhumans that had been living in hiding or among the rest of humanity. The Avengers attempt to rally the breaking galactic empires into a united army while cosmic level heroes like Starbrand and Captain Universe work to counter the Builders themselves. While some may argue that the Builder arc is rather over the top, I enjoyed it immensely because over the top is exactly what a pan-galactic threat should be. The clever bit to this was the fact that the Builders weren't villainous, just elitist. They felt that their way was the best way and since they essentially created the very races that stand against them, that they needed to ignore the ants at their feet to do what must be done. This means that while they are capable of horrendous acts of horror and genocide, to them it is merely tissue damage while they try to remove a tumor.
The evil in this story comes from Thanos and his Black Order. Going from planet to planet with the offer of either a tribute or annihilation. The tribute? The heads of every member of the race between the ages of 16 and 22. This was a cover for Thanos to kill his son, a cross between Titain and Inhuman with the genetic potential to surpass even Thanos in power. Watching his generals lay waste to the armies in front of them is super satisfying as are many of the speeches and grand standing. Sticking out is Thanos's emissary appearing before Black Bolt and showing the Inhumans exactly what their threats are worth to people who welcome death. Even more rewarding is the use of the Illuminati in Earth's defence as the solid writing and plot from New Avengers continues with barely an interruption.
The downside to the comic is how overburdened it feels at times. There are so many lesser known heroes with the Avengers in space that this will be a difficult read for anyone who hasn't been keeping up to date with the recent happenings in Avengers. Additionally there are some head scratching moments like Falcon flying through space in a suit in the midst of a massive space battle. He literally just flies around beside other spacecraft. Not to mention you have a character like Starbrand who doesn't just devastate everything in front of him from day one of the conflict.
Overall the event was a success providing an entertaining and non convoluted story that while long, is nonetheless fun. To top off the carnage, horror and stunning set pieces is the promise that this is just the beginning. When Black Swan looks upon the defeated Thanos and hears of the beaten Builders she merely smiles and tells the Illuminati that they have faced nothing compared to what is coming for them.