New Avengers #1 is the latest Marvel NOW! title, featuring the talents of Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting. But how new is New Avengers really? Major Spoilers explains it all in this review.

NewAvengers1CoverNEW AVENGERS #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Penciler: Steve Epting
Inkers: Rick Magyar with Steve Epting
Color Artist: Frank D’Armata
Leterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Jock
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99


Jonathan Hickman is a man of big ideas and one of the hottest writers in comics right now. His Manhattan Projects title for Image deservedly made most year-end best of 2012 lists. Coming off a well-regarded run on the Fantastic Four books, Hickman’s new task is to reinvent the Avengers as part of the Marvel NOW! project. His first salvo, the singularly-titled Avengers, has been pretty good through its first two issues. This first issue of New Avengers suffers poorly in comparison.

New Avengers revives the old Illuminati concept (which I’ve always hated, for the record), in which Tony Stark, Black Bolt, Reed Richards, Professor X, Namor and Dr. Strange form a secret cabal designed to manipulate world events. Black Panther refused a berth in the Illuminati, fearing the corrupting potential of such an organization, but by issue’s end, finds himself forced to ask for their aid. This issue is almost entirely focused on Black Panther, as he oversees a little bit of the unorthodox Wakandan educational system before stumbling onto a transdimensional plot that threatens the very Earth itself! But just what this threat comprises is never actually explained. T’Challa stumbles into some sort of portal, running into a nasty lady who calls herself the Black Swan. She utters a threat to planet Earth, he breaks her device, and the problem is seemingly solved. But Black Panther is freaked out for unknowable reasons. Unfortunately, without a reason to be similarly upset, the reader is unlikely to care. Hickman’s words are compelling as ever, but the plot lands entirely flat.


Steve Epting’s fine art is unfortunately wiped out by Frank D’Armata’s heavy-handed coloring for most of the issue. Epting employs a lush style that is detailed, fluid and exciting. It is too bad that then, when the action moves through a dimensional portal, everything is swamped in a wash of red  tones that overpowers the art on the page. It is an incredibly tedious effect that sucks the joy out of Epting’s pencils.


The big problem is the core conceit of this script does not ring true. In the wake of Avengers vs. X-Men, it is a very odd thing to have Black Panther allowing Namor to set foot on Wakandan soil in any context. This is the fish-man that obliterated Wakanda only a few months ago, who is regarded in other titles as an international war-criminal. But here he is, side by side with Captain America, coming to Wakanda. I don’t know why T’Challa didn’t just, y’know… call the actual Avengers instead of the Illuminati. With the threat never getting firmly established, it makes T’Challa’s self-compromise that much more baffling. A weird red-eyed lady is threatening the world with destruction – how is that different from any other Tuesday in the Marvel Universe? The central conflict is poorly spelled out, and that spells doom for this issue. There’s no reason not to expect that Hickman cannot recover from this early stumble… but it is odd to see him stumble in the first place. New Avengers #1 rates a disappointing two out of five stars.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Reader Rating



About Author

George Chimples comes from the far future, where comics are outlawed and only outlaws read comics. In an effort to prevent that horrible dystopia from ever coming into being, he has bravely traveled to the past in an attempt to change the future by ensuring that comics are good. Please do not talk to him about grandfather paradoxes. He likes his comics to be witty, trashy fun with slightly less pulp than a freshly squeezed glass of OJ. George’s favorite comic writers are Warren Ellis and Grant Morrison, while his preferred artists are Guy Davis and Chris Bachalo, He loves superheroes, but also enjoys horror, science fiction, and war comics. You can follow him @TheChimples on Twitter for his ramblings regarding comics, Cleveland sports, and nonsense.


  1. I think the threat is really Jonathan Hickman.

    When he builds something up over at least a dozen issues, a la FF or Secret Warriors, it’s usually solid. But he doesn’t seem to be able to start well when he starts with a bang. This sucked. Avengers 1 sucked – another villain, Ex Nihilio, who wants to remake the world in his image (Apocalypse, etc. and more recently, Phoenix in AvX, Apoca-Archangel in X-Force, Sinister in AvX?) Hardly a big idea.

    Are Black Swan and Ex Nihilio related?

    • George Chimples on

      You’re not wrong. For what it’s worth, I liked Avengers #1 more than this, but Ex Nihilo didn’t grab me immediately either for the reasons you mention (and it didn’t help that he shares his name with the big bad from the first arc of the new Dial H series). Black Swan comes off even worse.

      I don’t think they’re related – Ex Nihilo gives his origin in Avengers #2 and it’s all rather cosmic, while Black Swan seems to be from some sort of parallel Earth where people still speak Sumerian. Maybe Hickman is going for something mysterious, but it just comes off as needlessly opaque.

  2. Last I saw Black Panther he was using some “other” panther god to source his powers (which was one of the lamest story lines ever). Is this still the case or have they swept that under the rug?

    • George Chimples on

      The source of the Black Panther’s powers isn’t addressed in this issue. Just an off-handed remark about having the spirits of previous Black Panthers in him, as far as that goes.

  3. I liked it. I felt that Hickman had a few choices on how to start this story. I thought approaching it from Black Panthers perspective especially with his past history with the Illuminati and recent struggles was a good approach. It illustrates to me how desperate he must feel. I will say Hickman did a poor job communicating why this threat warranted such a drastic/desperate response.
    With Hickman we know that there will be a ton of questions and very few answers especially at the beginning of a new project,

    • George Chimples on

      It did make me want to read a Hickman-scripted Black Panther solo series, for what it’s worth.

      But this – “Hickman did a poor job communicating why this threat warranted such a drastic/desperate response.” is the core of my problem with this issue.

    • George Chimples on

      No – when the Illuminati arrive in Wakanda, it is sans Prof X. Which makes the Illuminati concept even weaker.

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