Disclaimer: This is my first blog post on here so there won't be any pictures or eye popping visuals, just words, boring, unfiltered words. Enjoy.
Marvel's next event, Infinity, is right around the corner. The groundwork has been laid, the battle lines have been drawn-ish, and our heroes are prepared, so they believe, for a fight that will most certainly have an effect on the entire universe, maybe. In the following paragraphs, I will be expressing my thoughts and feelings on Hickman's current Avengers run.
Jonathan Hickman's Avengers was one of my most anticipated books when Marvel revealed its Marvel NOW! initiative for three reasons. First being that I have only recently started getting into comic books, so having a starting point for such a big and storied franchise such as The Avengers appealed to my inner nerd. Secondly, I've read great things about Hickman as a writer on various internet forums and reviews for his previous works, hype building more. Lastly, it's the fucking Avengers, how could anyone not be excited.
That being said, it pains me to say how disappointed I am with the way things have gone leading up to Infinity. The first couple of issues of Avengers filled me with much intrigue and curiosity. Ex Nihlo came across as this very powerful and new villian, someone who could already take out the Stark and friends without so much as batting and eyelash. He struck the Avengers at their core, Earth, he physically outmatched them, and his re-Genesis plan for the planet was equal parts devastating and thought-provoking. But just as soon as things looked bleak for our heroes, a new champion emerged, Miss Universe, who tamed Ex Nihlo and Abyss even easier than they had the Avengers. I found the ending to this initial story arc a bit abrupt, but it did open the doors for future events to unfold, as well as introduce new characters who knew we hadn't seen the last of.
The following issues slowed things down, way down, as in slower than a walker race at your local retirement home. Hickman introduces some old and new characters to the Avengers team while leisurely moving the story forward from the events following Ex Nihlo's re-Genesis attempt of Earth and in turn making the main story that much more convoluted. The character development of our new heroes is minimal, at best, even in the issues that focus more heavily on them than it does on the main story. It's almost as though Hickman's thought process was, let me introduce this hero, give them just enough back story to make them slightly relevant and useful to the team for an issue or two, then throw them back in the bullpen with the other 50 Avengers.
I understand that the Avengers is a team series rather than an individual one, but when you're bringing in new characters that haven't existed anywhere else before in the Marvel Universe or have been side characters in the past, then it's your responsibility as the author to get the reader to want to emotionally invest themselves into these characters. Which leads me to another complaint being that this current team of Avengers just has too many Avengers that seem like their there just to be there. Only a handful seem to care about the events that are happening and are about to happen in Infinity. Perhaps this has been something that has always been an issue with Avengers comics, but when you start have your characters mentioning it (see Avengers #17) then maybe it's something that should be fixed rather than expanding the team even more.
Now to address the story. As I said before, I liked the first few issues, new villain, intriguing plot, things seemed to be headed in the right direction. And like I said before, things slowed down immediately after. Though the last four issues have had the label of Prelude to Infinity, Hickman's entire run has felt like the Prelude to Infinity. Which wouldn't be a bad thing, if we were talking about a comic that was 10 issues or so into its run, Avengers is at 17. It also doesn't help that Hickman has kept things rather vague as to what this threat is that the Avengers should be, and mostly aren't, ready to face. Even if you're only experience with the Avengers, or heroes associated with the Avengers, is from the films or various tv shows, you've seen enemies that have threatened to destroy Earth or have destroyed good chunks of the Earth before, so what makes this threat different? This should be a source of intrigued and anticipation, but the slow pace Hickman has chosen to take has dampened my interests in Infinity and Avengers.
Stopping the complaint train there, I will say the one thing that Avengers has done right on a consistent basis is the art and colorization. Both are just absolutely beautiful, from a green re-Genesis'd Mars, to the detail of grit and the wears of battle on our hero's faces and bodies. My personal favorites are all of the cosmic characters that have been introduced since the start of this run. All of them stand out and look otherworldly when appearing next to their human Avenger counterparts.
Wrapping things up, Hickman's Avengers run in the overall has been a disappointment with the two things that keep me going are wanting to see if anything comes from the Infinity event, and the breathtaking artwork. Perhaps things will really shake up once Infinity has the chance to play out, but if things return to Hickman's status quo after this event ends, then I'll be ending my run of reading his iteration of Avengers.