Thursday, 28 August 2014

Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World (Marvel NOW!) Review


Avengers Vol.1: Avengers World (Marvel NOW!)
Insert Queen's "We Will Rock You"

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artists: Jerome Opena and Adam Kubert

Collects: Avengers #1-6

Background Information:

So, apparently Avengers is a thing.

Yeah, who knew, right?

For years the Avengers, in multiple forms, was written by Brian Michael Bendis. Now that Bendis is working on the Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men titles. The Avengers books are now being taken by Jonathan Hickman, who used to write for Fantastic Four and FF. Whereas a lot of Bendis’ titles were based on fairly grounded local threats, Hickman’s more about the interstellar and the strange. So you can expect something a little different from what happened before.

Review:

Marvel NOW! is supposed to be about helping new readers into Marvel comics. Keywords are supposed to. I’m not sure that all of these titles are all that good for getting people’s feet wet. All-New X-Men and Uncanny Avengers require you to have read Avengers vs X-Men to really understand and if you want to get Superior Spider-Man, you’ll need to read Dying Wish.

Thankfully, Hickman’s adjectiveless Avengers doesn’t have the same problem. In fact, if you want to start reading Avengers books, Avengers World is a really good starting point.
PUNY HULK!!!

So the Avengers  have decided that they need to “get bigger”; meaning that the usual roster of Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow aren’t going to be enough. The team expands the roster to include more Marvel heroes such as Spider-Man (the Superior one), Wolverine, Shan Chi and others. A roster of six becomes a roster of eighteen.

And a big Avengers is just what’s needed to face a big threat. That big threat comes in the form of a character called Ex Nihilo who’s a… uh… a… uh… it’s kinda’ hard to explain. All I can really say is that he’s trying to recreate the earth in preparation for what I can only assume is… something.

It sounds like I’m making fun of the collection, but I’m not; not really. See, Hickman has a habit, apparently, of writing insanely long story arcs- the kind that can’t fit into the rigid structure of “only 5-6 issues per trade” that Marvel seems desperate to stick to. And to be honest, the trade isn’t so much about the bad guys as it is about showcasing the twelve new avengers. Hickman does a pretty good job at this, giving the reasons for each character’s reason for joining the team and crafting a story that essentially gets most of the team out of the way so we can see the new guys in action. It’s fantastic to see that Hickman has this kind of confidence in the characters he writes. Considering the success of the Avengers on the big screen, I imagine it would have been all too easy to write a story focussing on the movie characters, but I’m glad we got something with a slightly different flavour to it.

All the same, the story seems to go largely unresolved. I’m not the kind who demands that every loose end be tied up by the end of the first trade, but you’d think Hickman would at least tie up one of them. The point of this volume, unfortunately, seems to be only to set up the next and that never ends up being truly satisfying.

That helmet, for the record, looks stupid.
Art here, though is great. Between Opena and Kubert we get some fantastic depictions of characters. Hulk returns to his ape-like form and while that can sometimes look a little goofy, it really works in terms of showing us the vast difference between Bruce Banner and the less-than-jolly green giant. The real credit though, has to go to the colour artists, who are too numerous to mention here. The paints in Avengers World just do so much to capture the grandeur of the situation and really helps to add gravitas to the story.

Avengers World is great fun to read, and excellent as a jumping-on point. It gets a four out of five… somethings.

****

+ Good jumping-on point.

+ More focus on the characters you didn’t see in the movie.

+ Art looks phenomenal.

- NO loose ends resolved.