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Avengers #1 Review

This week saw the release of the much-anticipated first issue of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run, with artists Jerome Opena and Dean White.

The issue lived up to the hype as Hickman appears set to deliver an incredible run of comic books.

Going into this run, a fascinating aspect of Hickman’s Avengers that I think we were all curious about was how he was going to highlight the difference between the Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. After all, Hickman was just coming off a strong run on the Ultimates, who are generally the same characters as those featured in this title. However, there has always been a different tone for the Ultimate Universe, especially in how much darker it is than the Marvel Universe. In this issue, Hickman shows that he clearly sees the difference and in fact, seems to be designing his first arc AROUND that difference. In his Ultimates run, Hickman gave the Ultimates an almost unbeatable enemy and the Ultimates responded with, in effect, “Oh crap, we’re all screwed.” They battled though their fears, of course, but there was definitely this sense of “How the hell are we going to win this thing?” In the Avengers, Hickman sets them against a seemingly unbeatable foe, as well, only the difference is here that the response is, “No matter how bad things look, we’ll somehow save the day. I mean, are you dense or something? We’re the goddamn Avengers.”

Like most first issues, Hickman is spending most of his time setting up his overall plot, and wow, what a great job he does there. Something I really enjoyed during Final Crisis was the way that Morrison used short bursts of plot to give you this overall sense of drama – as in, if this these each individual quick pieces looked awesome, imagine how amazing everything would be put together? Hickman uses a similar approach here in the introduction to the issue, where he throws in a number of intriguing ideas in, and since this is Hickman, you know that every single one of these ideas is not only going to be addressed in his run, but will play an important role in the overall story…

Also, as you can see, Opena and White absolutely kill it in this issue. Hickman asks for a dramatically broad stroke and they give it to him without skipping a beat. What I love about Opena is, like all the great comic book artists, his ability to stand out if he is drawing a big superhero battle or if he is just drawing two people having a conversation. His work has a dynamic feel to it no matter the context of the scene – he can make a conversation seem as exciting as a brawl. And as for White, I mean, come on, what more needs to be said about White, one of the absolute greatest color artists working in comics today? He provides the depth that makes Opena’s dynamism pop even more than normal.

Something I especially enjoyed about the issue is how Hickman is using basically the same plot as Giant-Size X-Men #1 to start his run, but doing so in a way that does not seem nostalgic in the least. Brian Michael Bendis did a very similar thing to start his New Avengers run (the New Avengers form in the same basic way that the original Avengers did – just a bunch of heroes show up at the same crisis and decide to stick together), but I believe Bendis actually specifically noted the similarities in his comic. I like it better here where Hickman doesn’t actually call attention to it. It is there, but it is not a case of him doing a callback, it is just an awesome trope that works well, so why shouldn’t he use it? Why should he be afraid of using a great idea just because someone else might have done something similar? If it works, and it definitely works in this issue, then I don’t see any reason to give him demerits for it.

I also got a real kick out of the usage of logos/symbols for the new heroes introduced in the issue. Hickman has his design thing at the end with the wheel of how the heroes all connect to each other, and I loved that all of the new heroes were given identifiable logos. Always good to see new logos. They’re a pain in the ass to come up with, so I really appreciate the effort.

So we got hints towards a long, impressive-sounding arc. We have an intriguing group of bad guys that look unbeatable at the moment. We got a cool superhero battle (although Hulk sure seems to get mind-controlled a lot, doesn’t he?). We got a cool cliffhanger. We got a bunch of intriguing new characters (I’d love it if Monica Rambeau was the new Captain Universe. That’d be such a good idea, but oh well, a new character is fine, too). We got outstanding artwork.

And that’s just in the one issue! If we get an issue like this every other week, while also knowing (from Hickman’s history) that the sum of his run will even be better than the individual parts, how lucky are we? A reason to follow each issue AND a reason to collect the whole thing!

Recommended.

31 Comments

I enjoyed parts of Bendis’s run, but once I heard Hickman was taking over, this went right back to the pull list. I think this is a start to an epic run and can’t wait for the next issue.

And the charts, what comic book reader doesn’t love the charts?

I really enjoyed this issue and am looking forward to Hickman’s approach to the Avengers in Marvel NOW. Love his sense of design and his ability to convey a sense of weight and gravity to his narrative.

The main thing I haven’t liked about Marvel NOW, and I suspect the thing I will be most happy about this book moving away from, is the prevalence of all things “movie” Avengers. Comics do very different things than movies. And they do so in a much more expansive way. I wish that people designing the new costumes for the characters would look at things like DC’s New 52 and the Movies and the Movie Adaptations in the comics as things they should absolutely avoid. Aspects of say, Batman’s armor in Nolan’s films or Captain America’s “realistic” costume in the movies just do not look good on the page. I have nothing against updates to costumes and visuals but really, I have to say it: Cap’s new costume makes him look more like NFL Superpro than Captain America (does no one remember the Cap Armor of the 90s?). And Hawkeye really should not look like a purple generic version of DC’s new Green Arrow costume.
But maybe this is just a problem to me.

Other than that. The Avengers’ art team is fantastic.

One thing I enjoyed in Captain America #1 is that JRjr basically ignored the new costume as much as he could.

I enjoyed the heck out of this issue. Thank God it’s only 2 weeks to issue 2.

And Opena draws a friggin’ sweet Hulk.

@Brian

I have a theory on that, I feel like Captain America is taking place before Avengers and it’s going to be one of those time-flux where he will be gone for only like 15 minutes even though he will be there for years. Best way to avoid the new costume as I don’t see it looking good with JRjr pencils.

Great issue. I think I enjoyed the anticipation of issues to come more than the story. He does seem to be starting slowly, setting up the background like he did on Fantastic Four. I don’t know anything about Marvel Now, but I’m going to be reading this regularly.

Don’t like the movie costumes though, and are we going to see other Avengers besides the movie cast?

Did you not read the last page, phred?

One thing I enjoyed in Captain America #1 is that JRjr basically ignored the new costume as much as he could.

It seems to an extent that everyone is doing this. I have never seen a costume portrayed so inconsistently as Cap’s new one. In fact, the few pics I saw of Cassaday’s version it didn’t even seem like a helmet but a regular cowl with extra seams. It looks very different in each book he appears in, and almost none of them look like the original design sketch floating around the web. People seem to just take the elements they like from the design sketch and ignore the rest.

I am enjoying that part of it, because the new costume is awful. It reminds me of how artists also sort of try to hide the worst parts of Superman’s awful new costume, as well.

Captain America and Superman have basically perfect costumes (Cap more so than Superman). Why fuck with it?

Well, it annoys me not because I want them to be faithful to the new costume design but because I’d rather they just admit the new costume is a bust and just retire it instead of doing this farce of a different costume in every comic.

I didn’t know they were doing the same thing over at DC though, mainly because I find their new52 books to painful to even sample. I read every new52 book the first month the reboot debuted and they were just so poorly written and obviously rushed.

I am trying to wait for the trade on Hickman’s Avengers but man is it going to be hard after reading this review.

How does this fit in with the events in Uncanny Avengers? What with the overlapping team members and what have you.

T.: Wait until my review goes up. Maybe it will make it easier for you! :)

Hurry it up, Burgas!

@Scott: HAHAHAHAHA, Scott thinks they planned it to fit in with other titles! HAHAHAHAHA

(not trying to laugh at you, really, Scott, just trying to point out that there’s no apparent planning on this stuff.

Hell, 3 issues into All New XMen, and we still don’t know why Scott still isn’t in the prison we see him in in UA 1)

I didn’t know they were doing the same thing over at DC though, mainly because I find their new52 books to painful to even sample. I read every new52 book the first month the reboot debuted and they were just so poorly written and obviously rushed.

Not the main Superman books, but when he guest stars. Look at Pascal Alixe contort Superman to try to avoid drawing the dumber aspects of the costume…

The use of shadow is hilarious (and smart).

Hell, 3 issues into All New XMen, and we still don’t know why Scott still isn’t in the prison we see him in in UA 1)

Uncanny Avengers #1 takes place before the end of AVX: Consequences.

OK, thanks for the info, Brian.

But why do I have to learn that from you, and not from the comics that I read?

Wow, those contortions are pretty funny. He also downplays the seams a lot as well. I have to admit, without the seams it doesn’t look as bad as usual.

I have to say it: Cap’s new costume makes him look more like NFL Superpro than Captain America

Since his Steve Rogers, Secret Agent costume was basically an old Team America uniform (the comic, not the movie), I look forward to his next couple of costumes being influenced by U.S. 1 and Crystar.

There’s no way to make that new Superman costume look non-horrible, but kudos to Alixe for trying.

Wow, those contortions are pretty funny. He also downplays the seams a lot as well. I have to admit, without the seams it doesn’t look as bad as usual.

Yeah, without the seams, it does look better, but the belt is dumb and the collar is dumb. The original costume (or rather, what the costume evolved into once Shuster wasn’t drawing it) is such a great costume. I really don’t see who looks at that costume and says “Let’s dramatically alter it!”

You’re right about his Steve Rogers, Secret Agent outfit looking like Team America, but damn it was a good costume IMO. Much better than the new Captain America design:

http://geek-news.mtv.com/2012/07/26/marvel-now-captain-america/

Breevort has been circulating design sketches by Opena and by Cassaday as seen in that link I just sent. I’m confused, which is supposed to be the final costume? It seems like artists are allowed to pick what they want from either design when drawing Cap? They are very different designs, not just the same design with differing tweaks.

As bad a rap as Lee gets for his Superman costume design, which is bad don’t get me wrong, I think nothing compares to how he massacred the Flash’s. The glowing seams, the ugly chin strap, the clunky boots. UGH. I mean arguably I can see the argument for changing Superman’s briefs although they didn’t bother me personally. But Flash’s costume was practically timeless!

Geez Brian, how much did Marvel pay you for such a positive review?

Super excited about this title. I hope Hickman gets as much say in the way Marvel is shaped in the next 10 years as Bendis had in the last.

I hate the new Cap costume too. And a lot of the New 52 costumes. Reminds me of some of the horrible 90s re-designs that we got. And I’m sure in 5 years they’ll look just as dumb… heck they already do look that dumb. Just keep the movies and comic looks separate. I can understand they want new readers from the films to read the books, but if they’re willing to jump to another medium, they’re probably willing to except the differences in costumes…

” We got a bunch of intriguing new characters (I’d love it if Monica Rambeau was the new Captain Universe. That’d be such a good idea, but oh well, a new character is fine, too). ”

I believe Hickman said in his Q&A thread here at CBR that he couldn’t write any of the Netwave characters in any way other than how they were portrayed in that book and thus wasn’t going to. I think I remember the gist of his feelings on the subject correctly.

I hate the new Cap costume too. And a lot of the New 52 costumes. Reminds me of some of the horrible 90s re-designs that we got. And I’m sure in 5 years they’ll look just as dumb… heck they already do look that dumb. Just keep the movies and comic looks separate. I can understand they want new readers from the films to read the books, but if they’re willing to jump to another medium, they’re probably willing to except the differences in costumes…

I actually don’t mind taking some ideas from the movies if they’re good ideas. For example, Cap wearing a helmet-like cowl is not so bad an idea if designed right. And to be fair, it is an idea that originated from the comics first. Hitch drew Cap with a helmet-cowl in Ultimates in the flashback scenes, and the movie seemed to be taking its inspiration from that.

However the modern day helmet/cowl used in the Avengers movie was downright terrible even in the movie, so why they’d want to incorporate THAT into the comics is beyond me. It didn’t even work IN the movie.

Hickman’s Avengers #1: It’s like Hickman’s SHIELD, but this time it actually makes sense.

I really hate Hawkeye’s new movie costume in the comics. It’s so ge neric. And I don’t understand why they do crap like this. Even if the movies were bringing in new readers, which they don’t seem to be, do they really think that people couldn’t grasp the concept of a change of clothes? Would anyone coming in from the movie see Hawkeye or Cap’s old costume and think “This must be a completely different character, despite having the same name and powers, because his clothes aren’t exactly the same as the movie.” It;s just stupid.

@Jazzbo – it’s a particularly funny notion, because the costumes they take from the movies are never the exact same ones as in the movie. Just more “movie like.” So it’s still a change of clothes.

And they make that change so they can claim they’re not just aping the movies, as in T.’s link. Which is completely disingenuous, because in one of the sketches they even give Cap a Chris Evans face.

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