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Hickman's Avengers is awesome. It's the book that got this guy reading Marvel again. You reading it? No? Do it. No-- hey! Stop what you're--stop what you're doing! Go read it. It's great art mixed with intricate, epic, masterfully subtle, and engrossing storytelling. It's woven with the other Avengers titles in a way that's satisfying to people who keep up with it, but not excluding to those who aren't. Most of all, the story is consistent. The story isn't always fighting and laser-space-punch-death battles, but the quality and depth of story never changes.
"BUT MIKE," you cry out, having just returned from reading the previous 11 issues, "what about this issue? You know, because I need your permission before reading any comic. How else will I know what's good or not?" Flatterer.
So, long story, a small group of nigh unstoppable god-like creatures have sent a handful of bio-bombs to Earth in an attempt to make it self aware. As you could've probably guessed, it causes a bit of chaos. By this issue, the Avengers have a tentative grasp on the situation. That is, on everything but the bomb that struck The Savage Land causing a bunch of striped kids to emerge.
These kids have Earth's Mightiest worried. In four weeks they've grown to pre-adolescence and have not slept a wink. They don't need to eat or breath or slow down or, well, anything. They're perfect. It leads to a pretty decent philosophical discussion about their role in our world.
So the Avengers set out to teach the young genetic prodigies virtue and the intrinsic nature of value itself (but not in the way The Superior Spider-Man is thinking above).
It's an interesting issue steeped in philosophy and big questions. It's not jammed packed with action, which might scare off a few people, but it's good to see this kind of thing in mainstream comics. It's something that the medium is capable of doing: a ton of room to breathe and explore the world. The creators aren't chained to a run time, they can go ahead and put out a story about Iron Man, Thor, Hyperion, and others exploring the motivations of someone without need.
The art is great in this issue, although I still miss the sketch-like penciling and color work of the earlier issues. Last issue was worrisome because it used this strange 3D rendered look to it. It wasn't poorly done, it just seemed too jarring to look at. The art in this, the creative panel work included, is a welcome sight, indeed. The pecil work by Mike Deodato and the coloring by Frank Martin, it all lives up to the bar set by the story.
Speaking of story, Hickman is probably one of the best comics writers out there. He can take Avengers from serious, to philosophical, to funny, to creepy, back to serious without loosing the reader. He's also not afraid to let the images do the story telling. In a task where three kids are climbing towards a rock, on boy slips and almost falls to his death. One stops to help the one in need while the other goes ahead and claims the rock. It's a quick little scene that's played to the side of Thor and Hyperion talking, no dialogue is passed between the kids. When the boys do return, Thor finds the one who stopped to help the other worthy, not the one who retrieved the rock. It's a genius and simple piece of storytelling that really adds to the book.
The only real criticism I can levy against it is that a real villain is never really exposed. The god creatures are easily subdued with Captain Universe (or just 'Universe' as we're referring to her now, I suppose) showing up. There's all this talk and hinting at a great cataclysm, but nothing has yet been made completely clear. There are about a dozen little threads in the scant 12 issues including White Events, crashing Systems, Nightmasks, and whatever is up with Canada. There just doesn't seem to be a solid antagonistic push.
Along with New Avengers, Avengers is one the best books Marvel is putting out right now. Hickman's run starts at the beginning of Volume 5, so go pick it up. There's nothing really more that can be said about it's quality. It comes out twice a month! That's good!
Oh and, if for nothing else, pick up the issue because of the surprise tease of a semi-obscure Marvel villain to appear next issue. Do it. Do it.