Wednesday, May 15, 2013

365 Comics...133/134: Avengers #1/New Avengers #1 (2013)

I'm an avid Jonathan Hickman reader, ever since the Nightly News in 2006, I've read pretty much every thing he's written and I've never been disappointed.  He's an idea man, a grand idea man, but he knows how to execute his grand ideas and seed them with complex and interesting characters.  His work at Marvel -- most prominently Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four and FF (and S.H.I.E.L.D. which bridges the two) -- resulted in some of the most impressive and awe-inspiring reading out of the House of Ideas ever.  He was the obvious choice to take over the Avengers, having just worked some remarkable magic on the Ultimates as well, and, for the first time, actually made me excited to read an Avengers comic.

I've mentioned before that I'm wasn't much of a Marvel kid.  Until the 1990's and X-Men #1, I only had a handful of issues of scattershot titles to my name.  I don't think I had read an issue of the Avengers prior to the 90's and I doubt I read more than a half dozen in that time.  Even in the past decade, I can honestly say I haven't a single issue of Bendis' Avengers run, not that I have anything against Bendis (his Daredevil run is incredible), but the grand-scope, sweeping Marvel epics have never been my thing.

I don't really get a sense that the Avengers or New Avengers is, akin to Bendis' run, a big lead in to some big epic, like Infinity, which Hickman is also writing, but then again, I don't know for sure.  I haven't been paying that close of attention, obviously, having just gotten to the 1st issues of each series now.  Yes, as big a fan as I am of Hickman's, I'm not willing to cough up $3.99 per issue when I can wait for a steeply discounted trade (but probably a hardcover because, well, I've waited long enough already).  On top of that both Avengers and New Avengers are twice-monthly books, which is both impressive and costly.  Plus, I find reading Hickman's stuff is better in large doses (and look nicer on the shelf).

The first issue of Avengers (no "The", don't they usually have a "The"?) did not disappoint.  From page 1 I could tell "grand scale" was in the cards.  Also, I like Tony calling Cap "Old Man" (does he always do that?  As a non-Avengers, non-Captain America, non-Iron Man reader, I don't really know these things), that's endearing.  Seeing the Avengers crew from the film take off to Mars (how'd they get there so quickly) and have their asses so brutally handed to them by... who the hell are these guys?  I see "Hyperion" name checked, are they Squadron Supreme?  I just don't know Marvel all that well.  Speaking of which, I only recognize some of the characters from the last page...
Captain Universe (I think), Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Cannonball(?), Falcon and Wolverine.  Who are the rest?

Even without knowing everyone and perhaps some references floating over my head, I still love this first issue tremendously.  I'm in on the trades for sure... with going twice monthly, they should be popping up rather fast and furiously.

The New Avengers I liked even more because I dig Black Panther.  I wish I was more a devoted reader of Black Panther, but I sadly haven't been.  But the first issue of the New Avengers is a great Black Panther solo story, for the most part, dovetailing into his reluctant acceptance of the Illuminati after initially rejecting them.  It's a curious mix... Black Panther, Captain America (pulling double duty between Avengers books), Dr. Strange, Black Bolt (!?), Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Namor (where's Prof. X?  Is he dead again?), and that they're the New Avengers means that they're not so much the Illuminati anymore, doesn't it... this will be the team dynamic though, with these big brains trying to convince each other they have the best ideas to manipulate the world for the better, and Panther trying to resolve it.  Hickman's experience with Richards and the "counsel of Reeds" from his Fantastic Four run should provide an interesting angle to the whole thing.  Nobody pulls off super-intelligence like Hickman.

I need to get those steeply discounted hardcovers asap.  I want more of all of this and now.

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