As Johnathan Hickman’s run on Avengers continues to push forward, I must admit that I have no idea where it is going, but that I am going to enjoy the trip. I will also admit to be more than a little lost trying to read Avengers and New Avengers even in their biweekly form.
While I have considerable faith in Hickman’s ability to bring together distant and disparate threads and weave them into a cohesive and grand conclusion, I am starting to wonder when that might start happening. Although they are good, I’ve found it more and more difficult to follow these Avengers stories as time has gone on. Thanks to the film, Avengers is Marvel’s flagship title and they are not making it easy for new people to jump on board. There is a near civil war going on between various Avengers teams, including the S.H.I.E.L.D. Avengers, New Avengers, Mighty Avengers and the Illuminati and it all ties in to the fact that parallel universes are colliding, and Earth is the intersection point (of course it is…). All of that isn’t even including the stuff that is going on with the Cabal and the Multiversal Avengers. Keeping track gets a bit tricky.
Now, ignoring all that insanity for a little while and just focusing on New Avengers #28, it turns out to be a pretty good issue. Hickman provides readers with an issue that moves his story along better than the last several have. While it doesn’t make sense in the larger picture just yet, this issue is probably the clearest, most straight forward in several months, at least since the countdown has started. One of the things I like most about this issue is the partial narration provided by Reed Richards. Reed is dictating “lessons” for his daughter Valeria on the proper use of game theory, while he himself is using the theory in his fight against S.H.I.E.L.D. and Steve Rogers. It provides a great look into Reed’s mind, which Hickman is excels at doing and that has been greatly lacking since Hickman’s departure from Fantastic Four. Hickman also makes great use of the world he has already created by bringing the sociopathic Bruce Banner from a parallel universe back as a weapon to fight the Marvel 616* Hulk. Not only does the audience get to see Hulks fighting, but it helps instill confidence that Hickman is still in complete control of the story. If he were not, I doubt very much he could so easily make such good use of a rather minor character like the parallel universe Banner.
While it’s tough to find artists that are capable of matching the grand scope of Hickman’s story, Mike Deodato and Mike Perkins are making excellent strides. The art is consistently strong throughout the book, which is often not the case when multiple artists are involved. I really enjoyed the arrival of the second Hulk to the fight and watching them pound on each other a bit. I’m also pleased they made an effort to minimize the differences between the two Hulks. For all intents and purposes this is the exact same person, just from a parallel universe, so they should look pretty much the same. Looking back through the book, I surprised to see how little pure action there is in the first half of the book, as compared to characters talking. This is impressive because I had thought of this issues as being much more action filled, and it isn’t. It’s no easy task making talking heads anything but overly dull.
While an overall solid issue, it’s nearly impossible to separate this issue from the run as a whole. I have no doubts that Hickman’s time on Avengers and New Avengers will be see as of the defining points on the series, we are still in the thick of things, and are sorely lacking understanding and resolution. With more issues like this though, there is a chance that we will start to piece things together and that’s not a bad thing. 3.5/5 Death Stars
* Marvel 616 universe is the standard Marvel continuity universe