by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Esad Ribic, Salvador Larroca, Mike Deodato, Butch Guice (Artists), Dean White, Frank Martin, Paul Mounts, Laura Martin (Colorists)
The Story: An Iron Man from the future comes to warn the Avengers about a possible problem that could be prevented. After their barbeque, of course.
The Review: The tenure of Jonathan Hickman on the flagship Avengers title has been a weird one. There were moments of brilliance tempered with mediocrity, superb concepts and action but little characterization and a good load of other strong points and weaker moments. It has been something full of up and down that has garnered its fans and its haters all the same with an approach that was definitely different from the previous writer of the franchise as a whole. Still, now that one of the better moments has passed, it’s time to see if Hickman can do something else than just be ominous and if he has other plans for the franchise beside putting Thanos and an intergalactic war for this mighty team to confront.
Thankfully, Jonathan Hickman does seem to know that constant bombastic problems can be a bit tedious at times, delivering readers a bit of a breather with this tale. Fans of the ”break” kind of issue shall definitely pleased here, as the various members of the Avengers are seen resting as they play games, drink and have a barbeque with each other after their immense victory after the colossal event that was Infinity. There is a certain sense of levity and a smaller, though not that bigger, focus on characters here as Thor, Hulk and others are enjoying their modest time out.
Sure enough, though, this issue is not dedicated to those kind of moments as Hickman goes on to not only insert new elements for his run, but also pulls out newer plot points for the future of the title. Newer ideas like a rogue planet and a possible shift and expansion in the Avengers rosters are meddled with older, yet appreciated ones like the rather impressive Franklin Richards from his Fantastic Four run.
Hickman has a talent for big ideas, which is something he puts on display very well here, with the future being a mix between stereotypical techology from the future combined with some surprising elements like someone with the Mandarin rings and Stark Industries being a subsidiary from Richards Industries. There’s a certain boldness at play which indicates bigger things for the title and some upcoming elements that are rather exciting in the prospect.
However, there are some areas where this issue is lacking, with the most noticeable of them being the pacing. Sure, many of the scenes are rather impressive, but it seems that the issue goes along very fast with its concepts and ideas, never letting some of them develop on their own. There are several scenes where a few explanations or even a small buildup would have helped immensely, yet the book doesn’t let the story slow down even for a bit. There is a particular page upon which the present Iron Man reveals to the future one that he has been there for weeks, which seems a bit of waste in terms of potential. With the idea of an Iron Man from 3030 being rather amazing, it’s a bit disappointing not to see him interact with others or speak about his life in this new era. The character still adds a lot to the issue and to future possibilities, but it doesn’t feel much like a character and more like a tool to be used for the story.
Still, despite all that, the art in this book is rather great looking, for the most part. With four different artists rotating on the book, it is quite surprising to see a certain unity in terms of design. There is also a pretty fair division, with some scenes drawn by artists that are suited for them, like the darker ones with Mike Deodato, the more grandiose ones by Esad Ribic, those focusing on characters foremost by Salvador Larroca and so on. IT does create a certain disparity in the various styles and presentation, but for the most part it is quite surprising to see a myriad of artists being successful in such an endeavour like this specific issue.
The colorization is pretty much the same in that regard, with Laura Martin, Esad Ribic, Paul Mounts and Frank Martin working very well together, with the bigger emphasis on a certain unity in terms of vision for the issue as a whole. The use of contrasts on several pages is straightforward, yet effective as the use of colder and duller colors is usually tempered by very warm and energetic ones. There is a lot of darkness, but also a lot of brightness in this issue, which does help considerably in the diversity of this issue.
The Conclusion: It still possess some small problems that are the norm on this run so far, but this issue does manage to spin an exciting tale as it balance levity and a sense of excitement and action that manage to bring out a lot of fun. With some good work from the artists and colorists attached, this issue is a rather fun one that does make the future of this book rather bright for the time being.
Hugo Robberts Larivière