REVIEW: Avengers #4
Or – “We’ve Got Nearly Half A Dozen Hyperions To Choose From…”
The Marvel Universe is a long-lasting and diverse place, which means that certain characters have had a LOT of divergent takes. Hyperion, for instance, was introduced as a villain, whom we late discovered was based on an extra-dimensional hero, after which a third Hyperion appeared, and then we’re cha-cha-ing. When the latest H-Man appeared as part of Captain America’s latest Avengers team, I was intrigued and now it’s time to see what’s up with his backstory as he faces off with the villainous Ex Nihilo. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
Previously, in Avengers: When the villainous Ex Nihilo took down the core seven Avengers, Captain America alone escaped back to Earth. With his team down, Cap called up a second squad, a hand-picked Avengers team prepared for a whole new level of super-heroing, including seasoned heroes from our world and beyond, including Captain Universe, Smasher (formerly of the Imperial Guard) and the man known as Hyperion. Or rather, one of the men known as Hyperion…
A NEW AVENGERS PARADIGM.
Last issue, Ex Nihilo’s attacks on Earth left several cities in ruins, with strange jungle-like Gardens growing at each of the impact points. After those impacts (which, to be frank, remind me quite a bit of an arc of ‘The Authority’ a decade ago), the Avengers have broken up into teams to address and contain the damage. To that end, Thor, Hawkeye, Hyperion, Captain Marvel, The Black Widow and Spider-Woman are dispatched to the Savage Land (a site that is, importantly, only identified because of Hyperion’s own superior intellect) to investigate. Hickman’s Avengers are still a little bit shocking to me, as the team operates as an efficient, professional unit in this issue, contrasting with Bendis’ years of quirky personalities bumping into one another and cracking wise about it. This isn’t to say that there’s not personality on display in this issue, with Spider-Woman, Hawkeye and Captain Marvel bantering, befitting their long friendship, while Hyperion and Thor have some fun interactions as well. (Thor offers Hype a drink, advising that it’s “like vodka, only for men.” Heh.) The team quickly discovers that they’ve been beaten to the site by the beekeepers of A.I.M., who are coincidentally the same ones who retrieved Hyperion from his alternate universe.
LOOKS LIKE WE GOT A WHOLE NEW GUY IN PLAY…
The narrative this issue intertwines back and forth from the story of the Avengers’ investigations and Hyperion’s flashbacks to his own life as a hero in an alternate dimension. This issue makes it clear that we’re dealing with a whole new Hyperion, whose world resembles Mark Gruenwald’s old-school ‘Squadron Supreme’ in many ways, but has several key differences (in his upbringing, as well as the horrifying death of his world) from that Hype’s world. The biggest worry that I have with Hyperion being a member of the Avengers is the comparison to the Justice League of America’s Superman, a worry somewhat lessened by this issue, but (importantly) not yet fully put to rest. That said, the story of how Captain America found and recruited him is a fascinating one, with unanswered questions that I expect will play into the long-term story. The biggest issue that I take with the book is that we’re four issues into a major relaunch arc and it feels like not very much has happened. I’m worried that the scope of the stories and the massive size of the cast is going to play against Hickman in the long run, but this issue still has a lot going for it, including clear and well-constructed art by Adam Kubert, and an unexpected moment from Hyperion himself.
THE BOTTOM LINE: YEAH, I’M STILL ON THE BANDWAGON, HERE.
Things in the pacing department are a little bit odd for me, but this issue is still a clear sign that Marvel intends to take their not-a-relaunch seriously in terms of changing things up. There are echoes of The Authority here, yes, as well as a couple of other stories (including Gruenwald’s old ‘Squadron Supreme’ and it’s world-changing scope, ironically) but this isn’t a carbon-copy of what has come before. A.I.M. comes across as intimidating and competent, the last page reveal promises more intrigue, and the art never dips below remarkable. All in all, Avengers #4 keeps up the streak, delivering another strong issue, albeit one going a bit slower than #1 or #2, but still holding my interest in the Avengers New World Order, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. It’s my favorite of the relaunched Avengers titles, and the only one that has solidly nailed the landing in showing us a whole new world for Earth’s Mightiest…
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!