Or – “Are All The Marvel Books on Bi-Weekly Shipping Schedules?”

Last issue, a mysterious villain from beyond space defeated the Avengers, allowing only Captain America to escape, but also allowing him to pull together another team of Avengers, one that he and Iron Man had been working with in the name of “getting bigger.”  He’s got more power, and they’re certainly bigger, but will these new Avengers be able to pull off the big save?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

Avengers2CoverAVENGERS #2
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jerome Opeña
Colorist(s): Dean White with Justin Ponsor & Morry Hollowell
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Editor(s): Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in The Avengers:  After a sudden attack from the surface of Mars, the core Avengers team (i.e. “those guys from the movie”) are taken out of play.  Captain America has gathered the new Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), a female Captain Universe, a Hyperion, a female Smasher (formerly of the Imperial Guard), Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, The Falcon, Wolverine, Cannonball, Sunspot, Shang-Chi (Master of Kung-Fu), and Manifold (Eden Fesi of the Secret Warriors) into his own Avengers strike-team.  Their mission?  Get their @$$es to Mars and take down Big Boss and his gang of crooks Ex Nihilo and his cosmic retinue.


So, if you read my review of issue #1, you probably know that I had a pretty high opinion of it.  The biggest weakness of the issue for me was the strange and off-putting nature of the villainous threat Ex NIhilo, and his pals Abyss and Aleph.  This issue helps that problem along, opening with the strange-lookin’ villain coalition analyzing the heroes that he has captured.  There’s a very piercing interaction with Thor that starts to sell Exie as serious threat, followed by some well-handled exposition from the bad guy to explain his motives.  As he tells the assembled Avengers that he just wants to fix everything, Aleph voices the opinion that they have a limited amount of time, as there’s a threat building on the horizon.  Cue: The Flashback.  Hickman played with time and pacing last issue, jumping back and forth in three different chronological pieces, and here he returns to the earliest:  Cap and Iron Man putting together their new team.  Hickman even takes a moment to explain what happened to Avengers who DIDN’T make the cut (specifically, Luke Cage and Doctor Strange, both central to the last couple of Avengers incarnations) before going into some lovely character work with the chosen heroes…


The moment wherein Sunspot and Cannonball are recruited is dead-solid perfect for me, tying into their nearly 30 years of Marvel Universe history while making it clear that they’re going to be the new kids, and a scene with Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman that would have fallen apart in lesser hands scores with me as well.  Artistically, Opeña’s work is reminiscent of David Finch and/or Gabriel Del’Otto, but with better anatomy than either and very strong facial expressions on display throughout the issue.  Most wonderfully for an old-school ‘Deadly Hands’ fan like me is a sequence where Iron Man offers to technologically enhance the abilities of Shang-Chi.  The son of Fu-Manchu smiles a half-smile and humbly asks what other weapons he needs than his hands, a moment that informs BOTH characters and gives me hope that he could be the next big breakout star of the Avengers franchise. Although we see Hyperion, Captain Universe and Smasher, they aren’t addressed in this issue, a decision which makes sense in the long run.  (Hopefully they won’t drag that plot point out too far…)  The issue ends with Eden Fesi stepping up to the big leagues, and teleporting the Avengers battle force TO MARS without so much as breaking a sweat.  As Manifold, Eden’s participation here seems to make sense in terms of the story rather than feeling like a writer bringing a pet character along whether he belongs there or not…


I have to be honest: I’m somewhat bugged by the bi-weekly frequency of the book, something that I hope doesn’t last too long, but other than that, the issue brings the same thunder that #1 did without losing too much momentum.  I’ll be interested to see how (if at all) the upcoming moments of Peter Parker and Carol Danvers’ books affect this story, and I think that the inclusion of Wolverine feels very much sales-driven, but overall #2 doesn’t drop the ball that #1 so ably put into play.  Avengers #2 looks good, reads well and has a lot of good character stuff to play with, earning a very nicely done 4 out of 5 stars overall.  Assuming this first arc to be six issues long, I think we’re precisely where we need to be at this point in the story, and Hickman seems to have a lot of arrows in his storytelling quiver for this big relaunch…

Rating: ★★★★☆


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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


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