For an arc called Rogue Planet, the titular planet has, so far, played a very small role in the overall story. A team of antagonistic Avengers from a world destroyed by an incursion, just barely evaded its fate when A.I.M. Island opened an exploratory portal into their world. Now they’re in the 616-Universe and have already caused a major catastrophe AND framed this world’s Avengers for it (though that was not part of their intent). Meanwhile, A.I.M. isn’t content with merely creating an interdimensional tunnel as they’ve unleashed a new, ultra-efficient team of Adaptoids. Jonathan Hickman is juggling a LOT of balls with this storyline and this issue and it’s only been three issues. Which is not to say that it’s not a good story or even particularly hard to follow, particularly compared to his other works, but it’s impressive that we’ve gone from phasing a planet to malevolent Avengers and sentient Adaptoids in only a few issues. It’s been one helluva ride, though, and throughout it Hickman has kept his massive cast, many of of whom are either new characters or new takes on old ones, distinct and his plotline clear. We are still seeing an amazing marriage of sci-fi and superhero unfold on every page.
Salvador Larroca transitioned beautifully onto this title two issues ago and it’s been a wondrous move with his smooth, elegant line work beautifully framing and highlighting every panel. He was a massive part of what made Matt Fraction’s Iron Man run so memorable, so I hope he’s putting down some roots on this title as he IS used to putting out consistently great work at a consistently great pace. There are all sorts of little things that he changes about the Other Avengers, and it’s not just costume details (they’re all reminiscent of approximately the 70s-era heroes), but how their faces contort and their reactions to stimuli that should be familiar. Frank Martin’s colors bring out all these details gorgeously, rendering conversation and action with equal verve and vigor.
I actually missed last issue without realizing it and that painted, in stark reality, exactly HOW unapproachable this series is from the outside. There’s a recap page, but it’s just isolated panels from previous issues with no explanation more than what those provided and it is, quite frankly, not sufficient. I would say beginning at the start of the arc would be sufficient, though, not necessarily from issue 1.
Hickman is continuing to tell some of the most elegantly odd comics in Marvel and across the medium itself. Every time a new issue of one of his books comes out, it further proves that these characters aren’t too old to learn some new tricks and putting established characters into strange, new situations can still be incredibly fun. For anyone who thinks comics have run out of ideas, show them to Hickman’s Avengers run.