Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Jerome Opena
Cover by Dustin Weaver
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Cover Price: $3.99
Perhaps the most exciting new entry on the Marvel Now! series of comics is Avengers. Jonathan Hickman has taken over this series from the very capable hands of Brian Michael Bendis. Hickman made a name for himself with his work on Ultimate Fantastic Four, then the regular FF bock, and then the Future Foundation series. Hickman brought a sense of science fiction to the Fantastic Four which fit that series perfectly. Fantastic Four has always been a sci-fi series, sort of Lost in Space, Star Trek, and a family dramedy all in one. He has big shoes to fill stepping into the Avengers and now with issue #1 of the series we get a look at what his big plans are.
Rather than step out of his science fiction comfort zone, Hickman has brought those sensibilities to what has been a fairly earthbound book. The initial reaction I had is, awesome! The new villains are very reminiscent of something you’d see in one of the cosmic books such as Silver Surfer or even Fantastic Four and in this first issue it was interesting to set Earth’s Mightiest Heroes up against them.
These enemies are a complete unknown with unknown weaknesses and strategies and at least for now, motivations. As great as the majority of Bendis’ run was on Avengers, Hickman has truly reinvigorated the franchise with this new environment, new situation and new set of enemies. Hickman hasn’t forgotten the past though. He still managed to bring forward character structure from the most recent installments of Bendis’ Avengers making Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Hulk feel familiar. Since these characters are familiar to existing readers this situation does throw expectations off kilter in the best possible way.
New readers can jump into the franchise with this book though. Hickman only brings forward characterizations from Bendis’ run. The story and the set up for the team are completely fresh. The Marvel Now! #1s have all been story setups and this one is easily the best and most exciting of the bunch. Hickman promised a more epic cosmic story with many more characters than we’ve seen before and with this set up he delivers on that promise and makes it all make sense. He even manages a little Hulk vs. Thor fan service in a unique way.
There are aspects to this story that we’ve seen before. Without getting too spoilery some of the thematic elements are reinvention and evolution. We’ve seen other villains, again usually cosmic ones, with similar intentions but those aren’t usually in an Avengers book and they are familiar enough characters that we have an expectation of what they will do. Here, these villains appear to be working for, or to have been sent by, an even greater power that we don’t yet know of. This story is extremely exciting and even more exciting is that the book is going twice a month. As good as that sounds it seems like it would be difficult to keep the quality of the book as high as it should be twice a month and still work on other titles. I’m keeping my fingers crossed though.
Jerome Opena‘s are here is gorgeous with the alien but somehow familiar terrain featuring great detail and style and the new villains looking truly unique rather than rehashed versions of something we’ve seen before. The first appearance of the Hulk looks completely stunning. This book is one of the few that I’ve read recently that stands up to the zoomed in assisted view of the digital version on the iPad. The quality is top notch. Again, I hope this level of detail can be maintained twice a month. There are a few good books in the Marvel Now! series but Avengers #1 is easily the best and truly a must read.