Avengers #2 Review

Avengers #2 Review

Avengers Assemble!!

Avengers #2

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.

“an entertaining read and continues to be the (unofficial) flagship title of Marvel Now!”

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

Pros Cons
The characterisation, art and ideas Some clunky exposition
Rating
95%


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6 Comments

  1. RG says:

    I don’t see it. This was another filler issue, and the writer by including Avengers who were in the movie is just another way of having more tie ins versus writing an independent story with your choice of own characters. I’m dating myself but this book was much better in the 80s and even the relaunch with Perez doing the art. Secondly, doesn’t anyone care anymore about continuity? Isn’t it lazy to offer no explanation of how this book works with Uncanny Avengers or even better why they are recruiting members who presumably are already on the team?

  2. Daniel Cole says:

    Personally I didn’t see this as filler at all, but a build up of the foundations of the series. Moving forward will be the action people want to see, I’m all for setting the scene first.
    As for adding the writers choice of characters it is safe to say that a substantial number of the team are Hickman’s picks. The film Avengers are just good business sense and to be honest are significant members of the team’s history (with Hulk being the exception).
    The book in terms of continuity works as its own entity, and the recruitment process is for people that will roll out with this new bigger idea. A specific team picked from new and old as is explained in the issue.
    Comics should never be bogged down in continuity of other books. But I imagine that a lot of these continuity problems will be seen too in later issues. For now addressing such concerns is in no service to the story, especially when it is targeting a new market.
    You can’t not want writer independence that doesn’t get tie ins, but at the same time want continuity to be strictly adhered to.
    This is just an Avengers story, set directly after Bendis’ run. The only continuity you need at the moment really.

    • RG says:

      To each his own, so we will have to agree t disagree. I don’t believe that each Marvel book should exist in a separate time and space apart from the other books. For me it’s a sign of ingenuity that writers or editors in this case are able to tie everything together. Marvel was able to do this well into the early 2000s which is long after many of the characters and stories had been established in the 60s.

      I’m not asking for complete continuity such as aging Peter Parker, continuing to have Reed Richards and Ben Grimm serving in the armed forces, or Tony Stark being injured in Vietnam. But what I do require and this is why I enjoy the earlier books, is for the editors to make an attempt to be consistent.

      For example, if you remember the Secret War(mid eighties) series Marvel made an effort to continue the books sans the heroes even if was for just an issue or two. Compare that to having a new Avengers title where they are shown recruiting Wolverine and Spider Man. Well as others have pointed out, were they not already members of the team? Why would they need to be recruited.

      It’s not that I have a problem with changing the story per se, but rather the constant relaunching with number ones and having Spider Man and Wolverine in every book is very similar to the collectible bagged books of the 90s.

      I’m well aware that we are required to suspend belief when we read comics, but I suspect that the complete lack of continuity or consistency would be a turnoff to most other readers of fiction and I don’t see the why comics should get a pass on this.

      Enjoy the holidays.

      • Daniel Cole says:

        We do disagree.
        I never said separate, I meant bogged down by continuity. Where a writer must constantly reference every other book just to appease a number of fans. I also don’t think they should bring back the little text boxes that had editors telling you where to find out more. Tastes and narratives in the medium have changed.
        The Marvel universe has always had a malleable continuity and to criticise a book that is only two issues old for establishing its own identity first is a little harsh.
        New age Marvel is just as solid as the old 80s books. Whereas the 80s books made a concious effort to point out continuity. Post 2000s Marvel allow the reader to fill in the gaps. The same can be said here with Avengers. You don’t have to be spoon fed information to be able to place this book in continuity.
        I honestly don’t understand the problem with the recruitment segment. It clearly states that this is a new Avengers initiative that will draw on a specific group of heroes from old members and new heroes. Also having Spder-man and Wolverine on the title is not a problem when it is Marvel’s most mightiest heroes. I will not begrudge a company using marketable characters.
        To say there is a complete lack of continuity is being fastidious. There is continuity as the book is clearly placed after Bendis run and with in the larger context of Marvel Now! It is after the new Iron Man series and before Caps. This is not a lack of continuity or consistency, this is a book that is creating its own identity.
        As for the other medium talk, there was a time in television (as late as the early 90s) where continuity was never really a thing. Star Trek: The Next Generation is a prime example as the world reset to the status quo after every episode. A novel has its own self contained continuity. To throw in a hyperbolic statement about people being turned off for the lack of continuity and consistency is ridiculous as you have already stated that it the books don’t stay strict with it.
        If all you want is to have costumes and events to be put in a specific time frame then there is a nice joy to be had in actually placing the book in the Marvel Now! universe. But for a lot of readers, especially new ones, the story comes first and with the information provided (and the fact it is a collection of Marvel heroes) is enough to show that the book is part of a shared universe and is set in a time frame.

        But hey ho. Merry Christmas!

  3. RG says:

    First, this is larger than the current Avengers book. It is not the book per se that I am criticizing but the current Marvel approach.

    If it is not a relaunch and occurs directly after the Bendis run, why is it necessary to show recruitment of members who presumably are already on the team?

    In general, I don’t need a writer to reference every other book, and nowhere did I ask for any hand holding. However, I also don’t need the same character in two separate team books at the same time. It’s not that they are part of a team concept, but rather they are placed on multiple teams at the same time without even an attempt at explaining how this is possible. This is lack of consistency. While this may work in the short run, Marvel runs a risk of turning off long time readers as well as diluting the brand of the character. A short term decision may have long term consequence proved by the experience of the mid 90s.

    It’s not ridiculous at all to say that long time readers of Marvel comics have a problem with Marvel’s current approach. My complaints in fact are pretty common.

    If the bar is so low that you view Marvel comics as fan fiction that you pay $4 for, then fine. However, if the role of an editor in chief is supposed to mean something it seems to me that this general lack of consistency should not be explained away by claiming readers tastes have changed.

  4. Daniel Cole says:

    Oh so this is an issue with the whole of Marvel Now. If you are reading all the titles they publish I can understand the frustration of seeing the same character multiple times. However events in a single comic could happen over a couple of hours (this has always been the case since I have been reading them), so there is leeway in how they are placed within the continuity.

    The team issue is a real sticking point for you. As with many an Avengers run there has always been a “creating the team” story and I’m sure this means that you would give the book some leeway in that area. This book is about a new type of Avengers initiative, a bigger one. The team picks are done on specific terms and are a collection of current members, old ones and new heroes. It is there in the pages of the book, freely explained in Hickman’s lyrical way. If you still have a problem with it then fine, but the reasons are in the book. It is still a relaunch, but it follows on from Bendis’ run which in fact has the idea of a bigger Avengers concept in its final pages.
    Not attempting to explain is a non-issue as more often than not the books don’t happen at the same time and usually fall into place nearer the end of a specific arc. Over-saturation and diluting of characters happens when they are popular, of course it can be annoying to see them everywhere. But if you aren’t buying everything then I see no problem. As I said before each book has its own time frame and they don’t all happen at once. Specific events that really effect a character are usually referenced anyway (Superior Spider-man will be the next example of that) and I commend the editors for dealing with those logistics.
    The ridiculous comment was referring to the idea that any fan of fiction would be put off by the complaints you have raised. Now that you have put the comment in the context of a long time Marvel fan, the comment makes more sense. I have been a Marvel reader for 23 years and I think the company is in a strong position with some excellent stories in this Marvel Now! era. I have adapted to the changing storytelling techniques that started in 1999. With decompressed story lines becoming the norm and “widescreen” panels the visual of choice. The comic book superhero is going through somewhat of a renaissance in the popular conciousness. They may not shift the same units, but that is as much to do with socio-economical elements as bad content. We all have nostalgia for the “good old days” that got us into the medium in the first place and people will always want the comfort of the way things where. But personally I don’t care if Wolverine is in one place in one comic and in another place in another. I come for the medium’s ability to tell a story.

    My bar is set high for the medium as I enjoy the way in which a narrative can be presented. I would hate to watch it be fan fiction and in fact I would hate it if Marvel and DC started really pandering to the fans. Because I don’t want a perfectly recognizable on sight continuity in my comics doesn’t mean I want a lesser experience. I can see where they fit together and yes some need to be bent, but it isn’t the end of the world.

    If it is such an issue for you vote with your wallet. I will when the story is no longer up to my standard.

    Sorry I didn’t address the readers changing taste. But it goes in tandem with the changing of the medium’s storytelling techniques. The popular titles show what the people want from their books. Which is quite different (as you’ve pointed out) from what has happened previously. I wasn’t using it as an excuse for editors, merely showing that stringent continuity rules might not be everyone’s tastes these days. I also don’t expect the editor-in-chief to scrutinize every little detail of every book, he is trying to run a business at the end of the day and although he oversees the course of the universe I don’t expect him to make sure it all the little pieces line up. That is why Marvel has different offices for each brand and editors for those offices. They might not be overtly strict, but the continuity of big events is adhered to and like I said before time frames can be established.

    I’m adding fuel to the fire I apologise.

    It is clear that we are coming from this in two different ways. I imagine we will be going round in circles with this. Agree to disagree?

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I'm a budding writer of comics, films and television (got to keep my options open). I try to love both Marvel and DC equally, watch as many good films as I can and walk my dog three times a day.