Earlier this weekend, I already reviewed the newest issue of Avengers. Well, if you look at what came out this week, you’ll see that there were 4 Avengers books on the shelves: AvengersAvengers ArenaYoung Avengers, and the book we’re look at today: New Avengers. From what I can find from readers online, as well as through our own team here at Comic Booked, there are a lot of opinions over this title as to whether or not it’s good or not. So far, I am leaning more onto the “like” side of things, partly because this is not your typical Avengers book.

Writer Jonathan Hickman is giving us the story of the Illumanti team in the pages of New Avengers. We see the group – now with Beast taking the place of the deceased Charles Xavier – dealing with challenges of epic proportion. What’s wonderful here is that Hickman has experience in writing several of these characters during his tenure on several other titles and so he gets the personalities of these characters done well. It’s interesting to consider the roster of the team now, because if you look at all of the members – Black Bolt, Namor, Reed Richards, Iron Man, Beast, Doctor Strange and Black Panther – only one of the group has never been an active member of the Avengers: Black Bolt. Every other person has been a member of one incarnation of the Avengers, but perhaps this is by intent since we know that Black Bolt and the Inhumans will be instrumental in an upcoming story across the Marvel 616. The story here is dramatic without being full of action, and this has been the case for all issues in this series to date. That said, it seems like Hickman can only deal in worldwide catastrophes, as this is the same type of activity currently taking place within his Avengers series. I mean, can no one else in the world notice the events occurring here, or even the White Event as outlined in Avengers? With Hickman writing both titles, one would assume we would see overlap and a shared universe like we saw on his run on both Fantastic Four and FF. However, with the Avengers, we have characters who are appearing everywhere: Reed is actually travelling through time in his main Fantastic Four title. Iron Man is busy inspace within his own book and Guardians of the Galaxy but is also present here and in Avengers. Beast is present in All-New X-Men and has occasional appearances in other X-titles. Maybe it’s the time travel when he brought the original X-Men forward causing these events? Did the White Event cause this? Or did this cause the problems in those books? It just seems that there are too many characters and too many worldly catastrophic events and no one outside of the present book seems to notice.

Steve Epting kills it again with the interior pencils. I’ve loved his take on the Avengers and felt he hit a major high point during his run on the first Avengers series when he introduced characters such as Rage, Deathcry, and basically made the team for me during the mid-350′s of that series. He then went on to join Ed Brubaker on Captain America and Winter Soldier, and with the more intrigue elements in this title I think he is the perfect artist for this book. The darker tones work quite well and the epic stories seem to work for him, but he is also quite skilled in drawing action shots and I only hope that the lack of action here won’t make him leave anytime soon. Now, I know everyone needs a break and if he needs to take an issue or 2 off, that’s fine; I really hope that Epting remains the main artist here, though, as the book becomes something different and special under this pencils.

Can you guess that I liked this book? I know that my opinions on this series differs from others for this title but I am really into the intrigue here. The fact that we have characters we have grown to know over the years in various other titles and actions makes it that much better. This is truly a great book coming out of Marvel and one of the Marvel NOW! relaunches that I can honestly say that the new #1 was suited as the whole tone of the book has changed under the words of Hickman and the art of Epting. This is not the New Avengers we saw before, but this is a true evolution of the title to something wonderful.