You might be expecting huge swaths of changes, but Marvel NOW! isn’t a full reboot; it’s more of a “creative team reboot.” Characters will change as they always do, but nobody is getting a complete rewrite. That continues in Avengers Vol 5 #1 which combines the talent of Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña. From the first page you’re going to note a change in tone, but once you get into the meat of the book, is it good?
Avengers Vol. 5 #1 (Marvel Comics)
Consider the previous writer and Avengers guru Brian Michael Bendis and his strength at writing dialogue. It was all about character first which was evident with his arguably strong writing of Luke Cage and many more. Many internet folks hate him, but you can’t say a bad writer is allowed to write a book for so long without being good. Somewhat surprisingly, the first page of this book will strike you because it doesn’t contain many words and it’s incredibly epic in scale.
Epic openings deserve epic music!
Rather than stuff every panel with dialogue, Hickman appears to be giving this one a slow burn and judging by his extensively-plotted Fantastic Four run, it’s most likely meticulously planned out. Which is a good thing in retrospect. Bendis was so infatuated with character some issues seemed to only care about two characters having a pointless squabble, or who’s dating who. This issue makes it clear Hickman wants to tell an Avengers story that is so epic, it starts at the beginning of time!
Enter the villains.
The villains are godlike and the stakes are raised. This is clearly a case where the Avengers are needed because there is nobody else that can step up to the plate. The book opens with the cast of Avengers made popular by the movie. That means if you’re a new fan, you’ll probably settle in perfectly, and if you’re a diehard don’t worry — big changes are in store.
That arrow apparatus is silly, isn’t it?
While the pace of the issue is slow, the art by Opeña is so epic in scale you’ll hardly notice. It’s books like these, where there aren’t too many panels or dialogue, that require beautiful art to force the reader to linger. You won’t be able to help yourself stick to a page when you see just how pretty this book is.
The only weakness I can see is a lack of Thor and the use of a common plot element where Hulk’s mind is taken advantage of in order to have him fight his teammates.
Considering the stakes are raised to the point of human annihilation, all in the span of one panel, I’d say the book spends more time on fighting than plotting, but it effectively works. That single panel is all that is needed, partly because Opeña’s art sets the tone of gloom and doom, but also because the pacing of this book is so good. From the onset you get the impression things aren’t going to be so great for our heroes. The introduction of Captain America, for instance, has him waking from a nightmare.
That doesn’t look very comfy.
In nearly every case of the common 20 page comic I’ve found there doesn’t seem to be enough story or entertainment value for a $4.00 comic. I nearly felt that way with this issue as well; it’s a brisk read for sure, but there are small details that’ll get your mind reeling. Like a good episode of Lost, at least with this first issue, I get the impression there are details being littered for fans to chew on for the weeks in between issues.
Thor gets about this much time in the book.
There are a few morsels in this issue some fans might not notice. First up, it appears Hyperion will be a major player in the issue. He gets his own panel in the opening pages and (stop me if I’m wrong) he appears to be with the Avengers in the last panel.
The second morsel is the Avenger chart I’m sure fans are already deciphering. In the opening pages it looks to contain members we all know and love.
But by issue’s end, it seems to contain symbols that stand for new members in the web that is the Avengers roster.
It looks to me like there are six main members and wherever it breaks off that member is the leader of a team of heroes. Either way, pretty cool way to visualize the ever-changing lineup of the Avengers.
We’ll see if it can crack the ComiX Weekly 10 dollar budget later today. Overall I enjoyed the ride this issue offered and while it’s short it’s a nice breath of fresh air.
Is It Good?