Avengers #1, by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena
I’m going to try to keep this one short and sweet. Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers launched this week, and I enjoyed this first issue quite a bit. It has a nice epic feel (Hickman’s stock-in-trade at Marvel), complete with glimpses of the future, a new approach to the Avengers concept that takes the idea of the team “Assembling” to heart, and some ridiculously awesome new god-villains that feel somewhere in-between Kirby and Starlin and the 21st Century. Hickman hasn’t reinvented the wheel here or anything, but this is solid corporate spandex storytelling of the sort that I like.
Jerome Opena’s artwork is also quite an attraction. His figures have a kind of raw-boned funnybook realism that I like, but he’s also adept at staging, movement, and dramatic poses. His storytelling’s not bad, either. The fight scene in this issue, for instance, is a little over-condensed, but he’s able to make sense of it all. My reading never stumbled once because I couldn’t tell what was happening to whom.
Opena is aided and abetted by Dean White’s color work, which features a strong, rich, deep pallette that suits the characters and the tone. I’m especially taken with the shade of green he uses on the Hulk. But, here. Here’s a panel that shows off a lot of what I like about the art in general:
Jonathan Hickman also weighs in on the visual front with some very attractive graphic design elements. Or, at least, I assume he does. They’re uncredited, but they certainly look like his work. There’s a stark white two-page spread that’s nothing more than the credits and story title, and two other pages that are a little more interesting on the storytelling front. First, we get a diagram of the Avengers line-up seen above:
That’s a nice design, with little icons for all the characters and an attractive circular motif. Neat. But then, at the end of the issue (and it’s sufficiently SPOILERY that I’m not going to show it to you), we get that same diagram with some of those empty circles filled in to reveal the identities of part of the wider team that’s been recruited. Hickman says that eventually, his Avengers will be made up of no less than 24 characters, which, if you care to count, is the number of circles in that diagram.
So, cool. This is some high-test mainstream spandex funnybooks. It’s good stuff, and might very well be worth the four bucks a month Marvel’s charging for it.
It’s not four bucks a month. It’s eight. Because Hickman’s Avengers is bi-weekly, and… I’m sorry, but I don’t think I can justify spending that much money every month to follow a book that, when you get right down to it, is the same old corporate spandex shit in an attractive new package. I mean… I liked it and all, but it’s disposable entertainment. That’s a lot of money to spend on something I don’t see myself going back and re-reading, ever. And, hell. If you factor in Hickman’s New Avengers, which will be running alongside this, the monthly total for the entire Jonathan Hickman Avengers Experience trips up to eleven or twelve dollars, each and every month. That’s insane.
So ah well. It was a nice idea. But I’m sure these books will read just as well a few months down the line when the price for them drops to two or three bucks for a digital copy that won’t clutter up my house.