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Avengers #1: Review

Dec 2012
Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opena

Story Name:

Avengers world

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Avengers #1 Review by (December 9, 2012)
My proposed symbol/character linkage is at its weakest in Iron Man's squad. I can accept that Wolverine is just represented by an X. But why is Cannonball a half black/half white disc? I'm unsure why the sub-teams have been divided up the way they have. Thor's contains the members with alien/alternate reality connections (except of course Captain Marvel). But I don't know why Iron Man's team are X-Men (except Spider-Man). Falcon is the only one on Cap's team with a direct connection to him. And we can't tell much of Hawkeye's (or Hulk's) team with only 1 member showing so far.

This team's makeup so far includes some members of the recent Avengers main line-up as mentioned above. Black Widow is here from the Secret Avengers. But apart from the time-sharing Spider-Man and Wolverine nobody represents the old New Avengers. Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) was lately an independent agent, as are Falcon and Shang-Chi. Cannonball and Sunspot are X-Men. Eden Fesi is an Aboriginal Australian pupil of X-Men supporting character Gateway whom Hickman has brought with him from Secret Warriors, where he was also known as Manifold. That leaves the 3 new hero(in)es. Hyperion has already been mentioned. The female Smasher is the first Earthian member of the Imperial Guard. We'll probably see her origin in #5. The female Captain Universe is supposedly unlike the earlier bearers of that name. Her origin may be in #6. (The previous Captain Universe was a cosmic force called the Uni-Power which briefly empowered a sequence of characters. It first manifested in the Micronauts series.)

I'm not sure which version of the Illuminati Steve Rogers is dreaming about. We see Black Bolt, Black Panther, Mr Fantastic and Sub-Mariner. Black Panther refused to join the team. Black Bolt was missing presumed dead when Captain America was finally let in. The grouping here seems part of the one in the not-yet-begun Marvel NOW New Avengers, which also seems to specifically exclude cap. However Marvel Previews suggests Steve may rejoin in NAv#3. So this is either a precognitive dream or that arc happens before this one. Tony Stark's memory of his conversation with Steve Rogers in Av(2010)#34 is somewhat skewed. It was *Tony* who suggested expanding the Avengers. Steve did say that he thought the Avengers weren't doing enough, but more in terms of Wonder Man's complaint that they caused as many problems as they cured. Cap's shield seems to get left on Mars, but he has it with him at the end.

This Hyperion is allegedly a new version of the character, whose origin we'll learn in #4. There have been several other Hyperions, most from alternate realities. The 2 'native' to the main Marvel timeline (Earth-616) were both created by the Grandmaster (in Avengers (1963) #69 and New Thunderbolts #15). Both believed they came from a destroyed microverse, but in the earlier case it was a lie, and he was created out of nothing. All the Hyperions are to a large extent knock-offs of Superman. This is probably true of the new guy, and he too appears to have lost his home universe. The Squadron Sinister/Supreme that Hyperions belonged to were meant to parallel DC's Justice League. Similarly the Imperial Guard was modelled on the Legion of Super-Heroes. This military arm of the alien Shi'ar Empire has had many appearances (most involving X-Men) since their debut in Uncanny X-Men (1963) #107. We'll be told about their defeat on a dead moon in #5. The characters shown are Manta, Oracle, Warstar and the latest male Guard to use the title Smasher.

I don't know how long this opening arc will be. It doesn't seem to have an overall title. But Jonathan Hickman doesn't seem to share Brian Bendis' aversion for issue titles. Some of this information comes from a Newsarama interview with Hickman. The core team is the movie team. What a surprise! It looks like this title has taken over from Avengers Assemble, just as that title starts to diversify. At the end of the issue we see that Spider-Man and Wolverine have been downgraded to add-ons, along with Spider-Woman. It seems that Hickman has dropped Vision from the team. The (as of the end of the last series) returned Wasp and rehabilitated Wonder Man are headed for Uncanny Avengers. I don't know about Red Hulk, but he isn't obviously in the already-Previewed issues. He will be in Thunderbolts it seems, but no-one else ever has any trouble being in multiple teams.

I (nearly) missed an opportunity to drag in one of my historical sidebars. Iron Man 2020 is Arno Stark, a descendant of Tony Stark, who was introduced in 1984 in a Machine Man mini-series. He has travelled to present-day Marvel in the past, and there have been indirect references to him very recently. A suit of his armour turned up in Amazing Spider-Man #683. And Iron Man 2.0 #1 included a robot Blizzard who was trying to get revenge for the original Blizzard being killed by Iron Man 2020. But of course time, and the Marvel Universe's self-adjusting timescale, has made it impossible for Tony to have a grown-up descendant in 2020. Maybe the upcoming events foreshadowed by the current issue will redefine Arno's situation. I have often wondered why Marvel has never taken the DC way out of the problem of its characters' extended lifetimes. I.e. reboot the Universe every now and then, as in the latest Flashpoint/New 52 event. The Marvel Universe isn't short of reboot opportunities. It's been destroyed and recreated many times. I remember back as far as Sise-Neg/Genesis in Dr Strange in Marvel Premiere. And I'm sure Thanos has done it at least once.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue begins with cryptic hints which I shall report as well as I can. I'll go into a lot of detail because I don't know what's not important.

They say you should start with a bang, and this issue starts with a big one. The opening page grandiosely depicts the Big Bang and the evolution of the universe under the heading 'Previously in Avengers'. But it also points to something in the future called the 'Light'.

The title page then lists 6 Avengers:- Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, Hulk, Iron Man and Thor. It has a diagram with 6 symbols in a circle around the Avengers A-symbol, each one representing one of the above. I recognise/deduce them to be Widow's spider, Cap's shield, Iron Man's chest implant, Thor's hammer and a target for Hawkeye, which leaves the H for Hulk. (Or possibly the H is Hawkeye and the 'target' symbol is a stylised hydrogen atom for the atomic-origined Hulk?)

The attribution of symbols has extra relevance because 4 of them (not Black Widow and Hulk (or Hawkeye)) have strings of other (currently blank) symbols attached to them. And some of the blanks will be filled in by the end of the issue. Cap and IM have the largest symbols in the inner circle, and their trailing symbols mostly occupy the next layer out. This establishes 3 tiers in the inner circle. Black Widow and Hulk (or Hawkeye) are on the bottom layer, with no add-ons. Thor and Hawkeye (or Hulk) are in the middle. Their attached strings of symbols are in a 3rd concentric circle. But Cap and IM's satellites end in an extra, large symbol each, placed outside all the others in a 4th 'circle' (and neither of these 2 are revealed this issue).

The next 3 pages continue with captions narrated from a future post-Light perspective. The narrator ponders when it all began. Was it when Hyperion was rescued from a dying universe (by AIM it appears)? Was it when the Shi'ar Imperial Guard were 'broken on the dead moon'? Or was it when Ex Nihilo terraformed Mars? The narrator thinks it's none of the above. Before the Light (shown blinding Hawkeye and Thor), before the War (lots of spaceships), before the Fall (lots of Iron Men lying broken, at least one of them looking like Iron Man 2020) there were 2 men and an idea (Tony Stark, Steve Rogers and the Avengers organisation in this series).

Now at last we leave the narrator and enter the story.

Tony wakes Steve from a dream about the Illuminati. He reminds Steve of their conversation at the end of the last issue of the previous series. How threats were getting bigger, and how Steve suggested the Avengers get bigger in response.

One month later we get to the Mars bit of the preamble. 3 new characters, a new female Abyss, a mechanoid Aleph and their leader(?) who is called Ex Nihilo (but has an Omega symbol on his chest) have turned part of Mars green with vegetation. They have launched a (3rd) 'origin bomb' to Earth to transform the planet. Ex Nihilo is creating a new Adam to populate the result. But Aleph wants to destroy Earth instead. Abyss agrees - humans are too dangerous to be allowed to live, even as an improved successor.

They detect an approaching spacecraft containing the 6 Avengers, who destroy to missile. The Avengers are here in response to the previous 2 bombs, which have transformed Perth and Regina via accelerated evolution. They land near the green area, and Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk to lead the charge.

But Abyss encloses him in a dark globe. And Ex Nihilo invades Iron Man's armour with vegetation, shutting it down. Black Widow and Hawkeye assault the alien with venom blasts and arrows, but he downs them with his own blast like a dragon's fiery breath. Inside the dark cage Abyss convinces Hulk that Thor is his enemy, and then releases him so they can fight. Cap takes out Abyss and Ex Nihilo with his shield, but Aleph pummels him into unconsciousness.

They send Cap back to Earth in the Avengers' craft as a message. But he awakes just before the spaceship is about to crash in New York. He leaps from the plummeting craft and just about survives the fall.

He comes to again 3 days later in a hospital bed in Avengers Tower. (The other 5 Avengers are now captives of the aliens.) He remembers Tony suggesting that they recruit a backup army of Avengers with specific skills for specific situations, but keep them in the background. Steve operates a console with the layout of Avengers symbols on it, and some of the sleepers are awoken. (We see Hyperion in chains and 2 females who are probably the new Captain Universe and Smasher.)

Steve now dons his new Captain America uniform, with the hard helmet and chinstrap (a la the movies and his Ultimate incarnation). He is joined by the troops he called for. Along with the 3 from the last paragraph there are Cannonball, the current Captain Marvel, Eden Fesi, Falcon, Shang-Chi, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Sunspot and Wolverine.

The book ends with the Avengers symbol diagram again, with the 5 captive Avengers greyed out, and Cap and his new team lit up. There are also the words Wake The World, which may be next issue's title.

The whole of Cap and Iron Man's squads have been activated, except the big symbols at the end of the chains. If I decipher the symbols correctly, Cap's team is Falcon, Ms Marvel, Shang-Chi and Spider-Woman. Iron Man's is Cannonball, Spider-Man, Sunspot and Wolverine. Thor is represented by 3 of his 4:- Captain Universe, Hyperion and Smasher. Hawkeye (or Hulk) has only 1 of his 4:- Eden Fesi.

Jerome Opena
Dustin Weaver
Dean White
Dustin Weaver (Cover Penciler)
Justin Ponsor (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Tom Brevoort.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Widow
Black Widow

(Natasha Romanoff)
Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel

(Carol Danvers)

(Sam Wilson)

(Clint Barton)

(Bruce Banner)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Peter Parker)

(Jessica Drew)


(James Howlett)

Plus: Abyss 3, Aleph, Cannonball, Captain Universe (Tamara Devoux), Ex Nihilo, Hyperion (Marcus), Manifold (Eden Fesi), Smasher (Izzy Kane).

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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