The story in and of itself is fairly simple: Vladimir explodes onto the portal into Tlön, creating a black hole that somehow destroys the portal and, in Hawkeye's words, "reverse-swallow(s)" everything. World saved! I will say that I'm still not 100 percent clear on the role that the "imaging a better world" bit from last issue played in this ending. Later in this issue, M.O.D.O.K. makes it seem like Maria's ability to imagine just such a world actually saved the day, but I'm not sure how it did. Didn't Vladimir do it by closing the portal? What else had to be done?
But, it doesn't really matter all that much, because this issue (and, maybe, this series) is really about Maria and her feels. She realizes that her hateful behavior in the past made her the ideal medium to serve as the portal for "horrifying things from another dimension." In fact, Kot makes it pretty clear that Maria had become overwhelmed with her job because she had started seeing horrifying things everywhere. However, when she stared into the void that came when she served as the medium, she went beyond scared and realized how many possibilities lay in that nothingness. She's on vacation now, because she realized that she needs to learn how not to see the good possibilities (and not just the horrifying things).
Honestly? I totally, totally feel Maria. She fucked up a lot of stuff, and maybe she did because she just couldn't handle the void anymore, and, again, I totally, totally get that. It doesn't excuse her behavior, but it helps me understand it (and her) a lot better. Hopefully we'll see her and the other Avengers when they've had some time to rest, because I'd like her to get a shot of redemption. Given how much I had come to dislike her character, it's really a testament to Kot that I feel this way.
I'm not the greatest non-linear thinker; in fact, sometimes I worry that this entire blog is an extended rant about continuity. But, I realized reading this issue that I don't really care about continuity at all. It's just a proxy for whether I feel like an author is treating the character and material with respect. Kot did that here, even though he didn't give us answers to all our questions or endings to all our stories. In fact, I feel like the whole point of this series is that the answers don't matter as much as asking the questions. (You could see Maria becoming comfortable with the void as Maria becoming comfortable that she doesn't have all the answers.) In other words, Kot brought such care to the story that we didn't need to be constrained by continuity or reality for it to be great. I can't think of a lot of authors that could manage to do that in this medium, so I really applaud Kot for doing it here. I'm going to miss this series a lot.
*** (three of five stars)