The threat of Thanos and his lieutenants has been thwarted, and the empires of the Marvel Universe have been shown that the mighty Avengers are a threat to be reckoned with. Having stood up and sworn that the Earth is under their protection, Captain America and his team now have to deal with the consequences of that declaration. Your Major Spoilers review awaits!
AVENGERS WORLD #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman & Nick Spencer
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Joe Caramagna w/ Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Tom Brevoort with Lauren Sankovitch
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Avengers World: After the traumatic events of the last few years, Captain American and Iron Man reformed the Avengers as a massive squadron of heroes, bringing in old foes, new heroes and a few friends who should have been part of the whole thing for years. (*cough*ShangChi*cough*) Now, an entirely new threat has arisen, and the team has to mount a defense of the planet they’ve vowed to protect, but is even the most powerful Avengers lineup in years up to the task?
From the very first page, this issue had my goodwill, with a couple of subtle changes. Instead of once again beginning with Iron Man and Captain America, as the last few volumes of Avengers have, we see Bruce Banner and Steve Rogers arriving at the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier to receive a briefing on the latest giant threat. The change in character makes all the difference in the world, as Rogers doesn’t have the same rapport with Banner, while Bruce is strangely at ease with the situation (thanks to his work with S.H.I.E.L.D. in his home title.) Oddly, his joie de vivre makes Banner feel a bit like the movie version of Tony Stark, playfully teasing Captain America and reminding him of an important lesson he learned as a Gamma-powered rage dynamo: “Always listen to your sub-conscious.” The briefing turns out to be one of those “Everything is blowing up” moments, but the Avengers are already on site. We cut back and forth from team to team around the globe, from Madripoor to A.I.M.’s floating island headquarters, as our heroes address the situations. I like how Hickman has established a respectful friendship between Thor and Hyperion, and watching Sunspot and Cannonball argue about who was the better Khan is nice, as well. It’s also the first time that I recall seeing a full-fledged regular old mission featuring the new Starbrand and Nightmask along with the team (I may have drifted in and out of ‘Infinity’), which makes for some interesting moments as well.
NO IRON MAN = A NEW VIBE
The previous volume of Avengers did a great job of rotating heroes in and out, but this issue gives us no fewer than sixteen Avengers in play at once, to interesting effect. Most notable is the lack of Iron Man and Spider-Man (although Manifold and Captain Universe are also out of play this issue, making me wonder if they died horribly somewhere), strong personalities that shift the book a little bit, as does the decision to keep Captain America and The Hulk in overseer roles for this story. What we end up with are strong moments from Smasher, Shang-Chi, Hawkeye and even Nightmask, with a nice balance of action, suspense and a little of the old fighty-fighty. The downside of it all is that, by the end of the issue, we’ve only gotten a taste of the various threats that are facing our team, leaving us with a number of cliffhangers and the world burning down. With the addition of collaborator Nick Spencer, my worry that the big mysteries don’t actually have answers has been magnified a little bit, something that I admit is probably my own bias based on his work in ‘Morning Glories’ and elsewhere. The use of characters and plot-progressions from all over the Marvel Universe works to the story’s advantage, and artist Stefano Caselli makes it all look impressive from top to bottom. Especially lovely is a scene of a giant dragon raising his head out of the earth, with an entire island nation balanced on top of his monstrous head, but Caselli’s subtleties are noticeable throughout the issue (such as the beautiful page where Thor, Hyperion and Captain Marvel arrive to save the day, taking the perspective of the poor, screaming humans reaching up to them for salvation.)
THE BOTTOM LINE: SUITABLY SPECTACULAR
It is tough to make an issue that feels believable in terms of conflict, but still has sufficient threat-level to challenge a team with a Norse god, a couple of living suns, three alien-ish powerhouses, an immortal soldier, the greatest combatant on Earth, and 40% of the founding New Mutants, but Spencer and Hickman deliver a tale that hits the mark. Artistically, this issue is a lovely affair, with everyone looking great, and even Maria Hill getting some nice dialogue, supporting the example set by her movie counterpart. In short, Avengers World #1 works as a #1, it works as a story, and it showcases a lot of Avengers doing a lot of various Avengery things, earning a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.