I’m not really sure why we need yet another Avengers title, but hey, they sell, and it’s more Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer out in the world, which can only be a good thing. This title, whilst featuring pretty much the same cast as the main Avengers book, does have a different raison d’etre it seems. In the wake of Infinity, the Avengers have declared the whole of the world under their protection, and as such, have decided to become more closely allied with SHIELD and work with them to protect the world. I’m guessing this will mean that Avengers will deal a bit more with cosmic, outer-space things, so they aren’t stepping on each other’s toes too much.
The story here focuses on Captain America’s first day of really, properly liaising with SHIELD, as he and Bruce Banner are aboard the Heli-Carrier to talk with Maria Hill and co-ordinate the Avengers around the world. The dialogue between Cap, Banner and Hill is all very good stuff, and I think it’s here that the collaboration between Hickman and Spencer shines brightest. For all of his many skills as a writer, I don’t think Hickman’s dialogue is that good or natural or fun, but Spencer’s most definitely is (read Superior Foes everyone! Read it twice!) and when the two combine, the Avengers feel more like people than just chesspieces in an epic, cosmic game. There are several crises going on around the globe, and each has a group of Avengers sent to deal with it.
Harsh weather is attacking the Eastern seaboard, and I do mean attacking, as it looks like it’s being planned, so Thor, Hyperion and Captain Marvel are dealing with that. The people of Madripoor are rioting for some unknown reason, so Black Widow, Falcon, Shang-Chi and (duh) Wolverine are there. In Italy, a whole town has just simply disappeared, so Spider-Woman, Hawkeye, Nightmask and Starbrand investigate. Splitting this very large team up into groups works very well as, just like with Spencer’s dialogue, it allows the characters a bit more focus. It turns out that the force behind the storms attacking the East Coast is coming from AIM Island, so a final group, consisting of Smasher, Cannonball and Sunspot are sent there to deal with AIM.
But it’s not going to be that simple, it seems like all of these various threats are the handiwork of AIM, and they soon escalate very quickly. In Madripoor, Gorgon is back (I miss Secret Warriors, so this was a cool return to that for Hickman) and causing the rioting by ‘waking the beast’, and in this case, that beast is Madripoor itself. Yep, Madripoor is not just an island, it’s actually resting on the top of a giant fuck-off dragon, which made for a truly surprising moment and a great visual. As I said, all of the other situations go FUBAR pretty quick too, Spider-Woman’s group finds a weird stone cube thing, which teleports them underground to ‘the city of the dead’ and when Smasher tries to, well, smash into AIM Island, she is met by a robot who blasts her with a laser. AIM Island is growing and changing, it’s not an Island anymore, it’s an Empire. The issue ends with the reveal that, yep, this is all down to AIM, and the introduction of their mysterious new leader, who I’m guessing is the new Scientist Supreme. AIM have been a consistent presence in Hickman’s main Avengers title, so it’s very cool to see them take the centre-stage here, having kind of been forgotten about during Infinity.
The artwork here comes from Stefano Caselli, who is one of my favourite artists, and he really suits this book. It makes sense, he’s drawn previous issues of Avengers from this writing team, and he worked with Hickman even before that on Secret Warriors.
So yes, whilst we probably don’t need this book, it’s still well worth reading, and if you dig what Hickman’s been doing with the other titles, this is well worth reading, especially as it’s essentially taking the place of the double-shipped second issue of Avengers we used to get.