Might as well jump straight into it: Avengers #6 is brilliant. This series so far has been fantastic and the momentum only continues to build. In this, the third of a series of seemingly done-in-one stories that reveal more about some of the new additions to the Avengers roster, we learn more about the person hosting the Uni-Power as the current Captain Universe and the overall plot of the series so far takes an exciting twist.
Jonathan Hickman is probably my favourite writer working at Marvel. Here he crafts a story with an epic bent, providing self-contained stories that are enriched by an ongoing connective tissue. High concept sci-fi at it’s best. It shares many themes with his previous work on Fantastic Four and FF, and if you’ve been reading the current run of New Avengers then you can find lots of links that make the whole story richer. That’s not to say that this story, and indeed this issue, doesn’t stand on its own. The majority of what we see here is an origin story, but the recurring elements of the plot are nicely present, and indeed become more important as the issue goes on.
Hickman isn’t just about the big picture though. He does wonderful character work here, both in establishing new characters, and allowing those already established to develop and shine. As I’ve said, most of the issue is dedicated to the new Captain Universe, as Shang Chi attempts to communicate with the new host of the Enigma Force. But we also check in on Cannonball and Sunspot, two of the newer Avengers, in a great scene with Spider-Man that helps synchronise the character with developments over in Superior Spider-Man. We also drop in on Iron Man, also trying to communicate, but with Ex Nihilo’s “New Adam” from Avengers #3. All the characters feel right instantly and are a joy to read. I feel that Hickman’s gift for character sometimes gets overlooked in favour of his talent for narrative and thematic complexity, but a truly great writer should be able to do both. And make no mistake, Hickman is a truly great writer.
Adam Kubert provides beautiful visuals. They lack the detail and intricacy of Jerome Opeña’s artwork in the first three issues of the series, but there’s still consistency in the renderings between those and the trio of Kubert issues (of which this is the latest) that make it feel like very much the same book. That’s not to say that Kubert’s relative (and I do strictly mean relative) lack of detail is a bad thing. Far from it in fact. He’s an artist I hold in very high esteem (I first encountered his work on Batman Versus Predator as a young boy, which he inked over his brother Andy’s pencils), and it’s a testament to his skill that even though his style is much cleaner then Opeña’s, with simpler lines and chunkier figures, the series has kept a cohesive visual feel. There are smooth textures as opposed to Opeña’s rough surfaces, and colourist Frank D’Amarta uses a bolder palette than Dean White, but these are both valid choices, and the art here is fantastic regardless of its comparisons. Those of you who prefer a bolder, less intricate style will probably prefer Kubert’s work on the series so far, but art on this title has been exemplary regardless of the artist. Marvel’s policy of rotating artists has been a mixed bag in the past, but now they seem to have found teams that really complement each other.
In closing, Avengers continues to be fantastic, further strengthening the range of quality titles that the creative refresh of Marvel NOW! has given us. I’m really glad it’s twice a month, because I am unbearably excited about what’s coming next…