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Comic Review: The Avengers #1

If Marvel NOW! is supposed to be about fresh starts, then Jonathan Hickman’s The Avengers #1 is the freshest start you’ll ever read: it begins with the dawn of time, wraps in some life-bringing origin bombs and caps off with a new Avengers roster assembled under the Captain America shield.

To start, this is a beautiful book. Jerome Opena is absolutely fantastic on art. He gets all the little details, right down to little scratches or costume stretch marks on the characters. And he’s got quite the challenge at hand, as the story goes to space, Mars, Earth, the inside of Avengers Tower and back in time for a few flashback images. Every scene is beautifully, realistically rendered. My particular favourite is a flashback to Iron Man – dressed in one of his older armor versions – stretching a hand out to touch the ice block holding a frozen Steve Rogers. Iron Man’s hand is in the foreground and his body is reflected in the ice.

The Avengers starts the conflict in space, and that’s clearly going to be the battlefield for this story arc. The story begins with the Avengers cast from the film – a great jumping-on point for new readers – and opens it up to the broader Avengers alumni by the end. The war ahead is unclear, but a war needs soldiers, and the Avengers have plenty of them ready to fight.

Did I mention this is about fresh starts? Because even the villain – a bull-horned, three-eyed gold alien named Ex Nihilo – is all about beginnings. His name is Latin for “out of nothing” and he’s all about creation, in his own twisted way. “I don’t want to be a destroyer of worlds,” he says, “I want to build one.” His definition of creation isn’t a friendly one as far as the Avengers are concerned, and that’s where a trip to Ex Nihilio’s Mars becomes a deathtrap for our heroes.

While it’s got a clear focus on beginnings, Hickman and Opena tease future events with tantalizing snapshots that hint at a massive scope for this storyline. There’s a war coming, and we catch some glimpses of future battles won and lost on alien worlds. Ex Nihilio is just the tip of the iceberg, as he doesn’t seem to be the evil mastermind type. He’s more of a self-important god-like figure – misguided, but not malevolent. Still, he’s more than a match for the Avengers.

The Avengers #1 is everything a fan could hope for, and a perfect beginning for any newcomer. It’s got impeccable delivery, a clear long-term plan and a storyline that promises plenty of popular faces answering the call to assemble. Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Captain Marvel, among others, are poised to join the fray, so pick this issue up and don’t miss the next one.

9 out of 10.

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