By: Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer (Writers), Stefano Caselli (Artist) Frank Martin, Edgar Delgado (Colorists)

The Story: As the signal is constantly sent from the Perth site in Australia, the Avengers tries to understand what it is as what it does as they try to stop the madness it causes.

The Review: I have to admit, it is refreshing to see this title being written differently in the past few issues. From what we could see, the pattern that had been seen was that we’d get some action, some exposition and a whole lot of teasing and hinting at something larger. Starting with the prelude to Infinity that began with the latest issue, the whole pacing and the presentation has changed, for the better.

Sure, we still get some exposition, teasing and action, yet the amount in which Hickman and Spencer does so varies by a large margin. Instead of showing quick glimpses of action and of the general situation, both writers focus on a single situation and allow it to develop completely as the Avengers tries to deal with it. It is a much more satisfying read as we can see the depth and the gravitas of what they have to solve.

I have to say I rather like the fact that there is a better focus on the characters, treating them as actual beings instead of exposition-spouting statues. Chief among those characters would be Bruce Banner, who is treated as the scientific genius that he is. While he is usually of interest to most as the jade giant, I have to say that the way he presents exposition is much more satisfying, as it does help us understand the current plot, adding mystery to the whole deal. Not every writers thinks of using Banner in such a way (except Mark Waid), which is commendable.

What is also interesting is the action, which is better split in the book between the mystery of what is going on and the exposition scenes with Banner. Previously, we usually got some build up leading to two or three pages of action. Here, we have it almost during the whole issues between the other scenes as we get to see several characters shine (let’s just say we hadn’t seen Cannonball that much in the previous issues).

What shine a bit more, though, is the whole construction of something larger, which shines here. I had complains before about the fact that there was a lot of vague build up, yet here Hickman and Spencer succeeds in making it interesting rather than vague and tedious. What we can see coming uses a bit of what was set up earlier while it also do something for us to look up to for later. Skrulls, A.I.M, a civilization somewhere in space, S.W.O.R.D and a signal sent, all those elements seems to converge for something rather big, which does bode well as a prelude to an event comic.

One thing that makes this work, of course, is the visual aspect, which is taken care of very well by Stefano Caselli. Expressive, expansive, explosive, exciting, he can be this and so much more as he adds importance and impact in the scenes that needs to be so. The Banner scenes are tense, the action scenes are fun, while the teasing is mysterious and alluring. He knows that this is a big superhero book with big ideas and he rises up to the challenge admirably.

The same can also be said of Frank Martin and Edgar Delgado, who both does the coloring in this issue. The heroes in action are in bright color and surrounded in warm colors, while the antagonists are much more monotonous in their color patterns, allowing us some ease in dividing the two camps in terms of tone. There are some very subtle shadow and light play in the Banner scenes, which does add for the tension factor, which heighten the importance of those scenes. Last but not least, those two really do get the vastness of space, adding to the mysterious teases and hints in ways that make it very enjoyable to see.

The Conclusion: By creating a better division between the mystery, the action and the exposition and by having a better pacing, both Hickman and Spencer elevated the quality of this comic, which is also greatly helped by the terrific work of Stefano Caselli, Edgar Delgado and Frank Martin.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière