Jonathan Hickman’s opening salvo sent the Avengers on a bigger path, both thematically and literally. With this second issue he gets to the back story. Aided by the talented Jerome Opeña, Hickman delivers a script that may have some hiccups, but on the whole delivers an entertaining ride.
Hickman structures his script so that he can shed a light on multiple narrative strands. He delivers the villains motive, the assembly of the new team and continues to progress the main plot. Opening with a previously that consists of material from last issue is a nice touch, although some will be annoyed by it. The way the book’s narrative jumps around gives it a nice sense of pace and the whole issue is seemingly crammed full of story. It maybe action light, but this is a typical Hickman issue, giving us grand ideas and character moments. Again the structure and style of writing is similar to his work on The Ultimates, but this isn’t a bad thing as it works here. The different strands come together to make a coherent and compelling whole.
However as Hickman is crafting his tapestry he doesn’t quite balance all the aspects. Ex Nihilo’s monologue is a lyrical exposition dump that does slow down the book. When compared to the other elements on display in the script, it lacks the simplistic beauty of Hickman’s characterisation. It is a necessity to deliver these motives, but Hickman’s dialogue in these scenes is heavy handed. Conceptually Ex Nihilo’s plan fits into the grander scope of this new series. The idea that a robot who decides what worlds to destroy or enhance is on its own a fun concept, but the fact it gives birth to essentially the chaos of creation in the form of Ex Nihilo and Abyss is ridiculously entertaining.
Hickman does succeed in the other aspects of the book. The plot has an urgency that gives the creation of the “Avengers machine” a purpose. But it is in the assembly of the Avengers that the issue really shines. This is where Hickman delivers exposition in a slick and smart way. Merging characterisation with information is an engaging way to deliver the relevant details without getting bogged down with lengthy dialogue. Hickman surprisingly manages to give each Avenger a nice moment that speaks volumes about their character. Showing the motivations for each member is a great idea and a funny one as well. These moments have a punchy delivery thanks to some great dialogue and the humour works on every level. Hickman takes the time to develop the lesser known characters like Manifold and Shang-Chi and in the process makes them the ones to watch.
But Hickman is only half of the equation. Jerome Opeña delivers a visually stunning book yet again. His character work is flawless when depicting character emotions. The look from Thor on page 2 is perhaps the most emotive image of the whole book. Much like Hickman, Opeña gives each Avenger a distinct body language, which aids in bringing them to life. He can deliver these little moments as well as the big epic set pieces. Destruction looks beautiful and the horrific bug creatures capture your attention immediately. Opeña juxtaposes these massive images with the tiny details (the ground cracking around Thor’s hammer) that make the book a joy to reread.That final image is simple but striking due to Dean White’s colours. White (and Morry Hollowell and Justin Ponsor) gives the book a distinct dark tone, which fits well with the imagery on display here.
This second outing may not be as well put together as the first issue, but it is close. Hickman’s character work stands out, especially when depicted by Opeña. The big ideas might get bogged down with lengthy explanations, but the book is an entertaining read and continues to be the (unofficial) flagship title of Marvel Now!
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|The characterisation, art and ideas||Some clunky exposition|