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AVENGERS #1 Is High on Potential But Low on Surprises

 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Jerome Opena

Man, how times change. A couple of years ago an issue like Avengers #1 would have been noteworthy, but comics are so full of reboots/retcons/new 52's/etc that to see a new number 1 doesn't automatically make an issue relevant. Also to be factored in was the Avengers brand itself. Until Avengers Disassembled in 2004 Avengers was always Marvel's B team in terms of relevance and sales compared to their A team books; Spider-man & The X-men. Since then the brand has come a long way -- a certain movie hit 1.5 billion in box office receipts -- and has since become the flagship book at Marvel. Avengers #1 carries itself as such. A good creative team, a promise of a bold direction, and a huge cast of characters from which to draw from. Now we get to see what they do with all that promise.

Issue 1 is as expected; mostly setup but with some action to be had. The story mainly revolves around a new cast of characters referred to as The Garden, and while not much is known about them, so far they are rather interesting, especially the would be god Ex Nihilo. I know some would rather see familiar faces in the antagonist role, but personally I love it when a writer tries to come up with something new rather than do the umpteenth Kang story.

As for the story itself, well, you'll have to read it. I'm not a fan of spoiling for spoiling's sake. Jonathan Hickman starts the book off steady and maintains that throughout the entire issue. Yes, there are action sequences, but his pacing never leaves that setting, and from my perspective that's a good thing. To be successful this book needs that steady hand, and I think Hickman's first issue is good in that regard, even if it doesn't offer too many surprises. The book ends not with a Little John "WHAT!" but rather a quiet "yay." Not bad by any means, just not unexpected or shocking. One thing I didn't love was Hickman's take on Thor and Cap. Might just be first issue warm ups, but I thought they felt a bit off, especially Cap's witty repartee mid battle. Thor's ego resurfaced here as well, and while I understand that someone who has just seen the movie would have no issue with it, his character in the books had seemingly moved past that kind of thing a long time ago, so it seems a bit out of place here.

Enough about that, let's talk some art. Jerome Opena's work is solid, but never rose above that line for me. Take those words with a grain of salt however, because I've just never been the biggest fan of his style. I liked his work on Uncanny X-Force, yet it didn't hit the mark for me on Moon Knight, so he's hit and miss for me. His storytelling was spot on though, and there was rarely a moment where I couldn't figure out what was going on (which is a small victory in itself nowadays).

Overall I was satisfied and left wanting the next issue. Not a stand-out book for me, but good enough to recommend, as I think once Hickman gets a feel for the characters things will start to pick up. We'll see over the next few months if this book's reality ever meets up with its potential.

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