new-avengers-1-coverNEW AVENGERS 1

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Stephen Epting
Publisher: Marvel (Now)
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Did you notice the attribution? See what I did with the name of the publisher? I’m not being a smart-ass, not trying to stand on my usual soap-box decrying branding shenanigans. This is respect: respect for a soft restart versus an abrupt reboot, respect for not only renumbering, but also reinventing the very nature of the books and respect for the NOW moniker making me finally care about THE AVENGERS.

But pay heed, this is truly a NEW AVENGERS. Opa Bendis Style, love it or hate it, is unique. It’s the lighter side of life. Hickman is more Battlestar than Buffy, he pulls Sci-Fi from a dark place and slathers it all over NEW AVENGERS. Well at least one AVENGER.

This is Black Panther’s issue start to finish. The book opens with a perfectly timed short exposition of Black Panther turning his back on the Illuminati of yore. It had some cool sepia black and white work going as well, very aged. The next time we see BP it is years later conducting a field trip that is the equivalent of the Wakandan’ SAT’s , the next generation gets slaughtered by a gang of inter-reality thugs who threaten to destroy everything…and they do. Sorta. I think. OK, that part isn’t too clear, but that’s why this is called a serial. The question is whether there’s sufficient mystery…and I think the end of everything fits the bill.

I’ve heard a few rumblings the book is talky, but I’ll make the counter argument that the “talky’ is the detail to make me care when children were slaughtered by Gods from a new reality. It made me appreciate the ominous words of Reed Richards on page one of today lamenting how all things die, and honestly it was necessary to acclimate Sci-Fi noobs for when the book didn’t open with Jarvis serving cereal.

Epting was also a huge contributor to my glee. When I say powered beings from a new reality kill Wakandan nerds, I greatly diminish the splendor of a Red Planet a hundred fold the size of earth, dwarfing the already drenched Wakandan disaster magnet.

I’ve never been an A, always an X, even before Marvel made us choose. I thought my love of UNCANNY AVENGERS was merely a fluke because the team is half muties. But here I am presented with a team (sorta) consisting of The Black Panther, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Mister Fantastic, Namor and Beast, and I care, greatly.

I say “sorta” presented because I was a little surprised how quickly introductions were handled at the very end of the book. Even though Hickman handled it in fine montage style, listing off each member’s darkest virtues, I would have appreciated a bit of foreplay before being bitch slapped with the roll call.

And I do have one other question, more for editorial than Mr. Hickman, “If Beast is on this team, does that mean he lives through ALL NEW X-MEN?” Ahhh, the trappings of continuity. Although to be fair, he hasn’t really been introduced yet, so he could just show up and say, “I’d like to help, but I’m really sick from this third mutation, thanks for understanding.”

Fanboyisms aside, I’m thrilled to see the author of RED WING and MANHATTAN PROJECTS infuse a little ghost of Asimov into NEW AVENGERS.