After an illustrious run on Fantastic Four Jonathan Hickman has been given the keys to Avengers. I guess Marvel likes their writers to cover mutliple books as Brian Michael Bendis did for…what a decade? Here begins the second Avengers book in Hickman’s run, this time of the new variety, but as a single issue read: is it good?
New Avengers Vol. 3 #1 (Marvel Comics)
This issue opens with the title memento mori which is Latin for “Remember your mortality”, “Remember you must die.” Two things are evident in this issue. One is Black Panther is going to be a main character and a heavy hitter in this series. The second is the heroes, and possibly the Earth itself, are in big trouble.
Of all the heroes to be solemnly talking about death Mr. Fantastic could be the scariest.
I’m always confused when team comic books seem to be focused more on a singular hero than the team, but in this case it makes sense. Essentially this issue introduces the reader to a new villain by the name of Black Swan and a vague introduction to the stakes at play. The single panel below basically explains why we’re in Wakanda and why we’re not seeing the rest of the Avengers.
Wakanda, according to the Black Panther above, has the “preeminent space program on Earth” and therefore the best hope against intergalactic threats. Seems a silly notion though, considering there are countless heroes who take dips in space or the Guardians of the Galaxy for that matter.
That said, this issue is setting up the fact that Black Panther isn’t simply a hero with some fighting skills, but one who brings much needed technology to the threat at hand. Without him the other Avengers would seemingly have no way to combat this threat. That’s a pleasant surprise considering how underused the hero has been over the last few years.
Now that’s epic.
One main gripe with this issue is the vague explanation of what the bad guys are actually doing. They arrive on some alternate dimension/time of Earth from another planet. They have a weapon of some kind and it may or may not destroy planets. Why this is their plan isn’t explained. The only clear thing understood is Black Swan is the leader and she’s formidable to some extent.
100 dollars says the book Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb inspired this villain.
That said the villain and threat are enticing, even if they aren’t clearly played out. If you’ve read Jonathan Hickman before you’ll know he likes to build a story slowly so that when the shit hits the fan or the plot takes a turn all the little details that set it up will not only reward the reader but make the story that much more exciting. Knowing that in advance will help any readers who may otherwise be frustrated with this issue. The man has a plan and has probably plotted this series 50 issues or more.
Black Panther has a pretty sweet skill set.
There’s a lot to digest in this issue be it Black Panther himself, his country’s responsibility, the threat or the stakes at hand. Considering Panther’s country was nearly destroyed in the last Marvel event I’m sure he’s not too keen to join a superteam and the opening pages that show the first Illuminati meeting show he doesn’t even like the super team idea. It’s nice to see the Illuminati back and it’s exciting to think they’ll play a big part in this series.
Now that’s a sick line.
Steve Epting is on pencils and I’m happy to say he does a spectacular job in an otherwise unfamiliar comic for him. Having drawn Captain America for much of Ed Brubaker’s run it’s nice to see how strong his work is in not only atmosphere but also the surroundings. The jungle looks practically real in every shot and it’ll great fun to see what he brings to the table if this series jumps into space.
This issue holds a lot of promise and is well plotted with some interesting dialogue thrown in too. That said the promises it makes aren’t the clearest and you’ll be at least a little frustrated with the lack of details. That said if this doesn’t reel you in I’m not sure what would. The complexity of superhero comics doesn’t get much higher than this. Check back later today to see if this makes it into our ComiX Weekly 10 dollar budget.
Is It Good?