Where the first issue of Johnathan Hickman’s Avengers set the stage for the story to come, issue number two spends most of its time showcasing the new team. Cap and Tony Stark go around the globe recruiting new and old members to join their newer, bigger and better Avengers.
Hickman knows exactly what he’s doing here, quickly moving past the most recognizable characters and giving us a little more time to meet the lesser known ones. Spider-Man and Wolverine get one panel each as far as recruitment is concerned, where the rest of the team seems to get more time directly proportionate to how obscure they are. This was definitely the best way to do it and gave Hickman the space to fit in as much information as he felt was necessary.
Given how much of the issue is spent on introducing the cast, there is a surprising amount of other plot bits thrown in to move the story forward as well. We get a few pages in the beginning to catch up with the events taking place on Mars, and at the back there’s a good chunk of progression with the new group being implemented into the ongoing plot right away. It’s clear that Hickman knows exactly where to put all the pieces in his jigsaw stories.
On Mars, revisiting new villain Ex Nihilo, we also get a nifty bit of thematic unity as he discusses creation myths with Thor. There are two full pages crammed with information about the birth and purpose of Ex Nihilo and his crew (there really is a lot going on in this issue) alongside the ‘creation myth’ of the new Avengers team. Hickman feels no need to paint any further parallels between the two ideas, and it really is satisfying to let your brain make the connection.
Jerome Opeña’s art is as gorgeous as anything he put into the last issue. His faces are full of expression and emotion and there is never any doubt as to what he is trying to convey. Additionally, the locales of this issue are a little more varied than the last, allowing Dean White’s spectacular colors to stretch out in even more directions. A scene on a beach stands out in particular as a completely different color scheme from the rest of the book so far.
All in all, the second issue of Hickman’s Avengers is as strong of a follow up to the first as anyone could ask for. It spends a lot more time on characterization, letting you meet this huge cast (with more to come) at just the right time. Had Hickman waited any longer it might have weakened the feeling that this is a legitimate team that we can grow to know and love, but if he leaned on it too hard last issue it might have muddied up the setup for the story. Johnathan Hickman is a writer who knows how to spin gigantic, epic yarns and nothing so far shows any sign that this book won’t rise to the level any of his other fan-favorites have previously.
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