The Avengers go big as Jonathan Hickman takes over.
The reins of the Avengers franchise have been handed over to Jonathan Hickman and it couldn’t be in better hands. The pithy dialogue that has defined the book for so many years has been cast aside in favour for a streamlined re-introduction to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes that has a sense of scale that impresses.
In just one issue Jonathan Hickman has managed to re-establish what the Avengers are about, deliver his mission statement and create the groundwork for what looks like an ambitious direction for the title. In essence this is a perfect number one issue. Hickman has always been a writer who has plans and his meticulous plotting is evident here. Reminiscent of his work on The Ultimates, this first issue opens with a subtle narration that sets up not only adventures we have yet to see, but the Avengers place in the universe. Starting the narrative at the beginning of everything gives a grandeur to the book that goes hand in hand with the ambitious tapestry Hickman is clearly creating. This book is big in scope and that is essentially the statement Hickman is hammering home.
This isn’t the Avengers you remember, but these are the Avengers. A large army of superheroes brought together to fight the foes no single superhero can withstand. Hickman enhances that concept by having the Avengers from the film fight something they can’t handle. This leads to Captain America initiating a plan that sees the assembly of a team that can handle the situation. Yes by the end of this issue most of the team is formed. In one page Hickman delivers twelve Avengers that are ready to help Cap save the day. This book does not slow down, it has no filler and one can only hope this pace can keep up.
It isn’t all grand gestures and defining the concept of the team though. Hickman manages to balance the ambition of his direction with a classic Avengers plot and a lot of character moments. The villains are unique and interesting, as Hickman quickly gets across what they are about without drowning the book in exposition. The team sent to deal with the threat maybe from the film, but Hickman instantly gives them a reason why they are so popular. Hawkeye and Black Widow bring some humour, which is juxtaposed with Bruce Banner’s compassion. Each cast member is defined by the subtly of Hickman’s dialogue, Thor’s “pfft” speaks volumes about his character. But it is not all in the dialogue as Hickman also throws his characters into the fray with gusto. Having Captain America jump into a fight with people much more powerful than him is a defining feature of his character and Hickman plays on that to great effect. Even the nods to the past are used to enhance character work. Hickman has delivered a master-class on characterisation with this one issue. He even makes Captain America’s redesign in service to the plot.
The redesign and the book is brought to life by the wonderful Jerome Opeña. His pencils are the stuff of beauty, his details aid the script no end and teamed with colourist Dean White the book is a vibrant visual experience. He gives every character a distinctive look that goes beyond them merely being different people. Every character has a specific tick or facial expression that Opeña has put in their. This is visual characterisation at its best. It also helps that Opeña can deliver action in spades. The fight at the heart of the book maybe brief but it is visually compelling due to its kinetic nature. Every character has a moment and Opeña relishes the fact that Hickman’s script requires character through action. The last thing that Opeña manages to succeed in is with the scope of the book, he truly brings Hickman’s ambitions to life with his panel layouts that give the book a blockbuster feel.
So, this is the dawning of a new chapter in the Avengers franchise. One that has looked at the past few years and decided on a aggressively different path. Its big, bold and full of character, and while it moves forward it never forgets what the Avengers are about. Hickman Delivers a succinct take on the concept, which looks gorgeous due to Opeña’s art work. This is the blockbuster title Marvel Now! has been waiting for and is the perfect jumping on point for any new reader.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Hickman and Opeña are a match made in heaven. The book soars.||None|