by Jonathan Hickman (Writer) Salvador Larroca (Artist), Frank Martin (Colorist)

The Story: A version of the Avengers steps into the main Marvel universe, courtesy of A.I.M.

The Review: With Infinity well behind us, there is a certain air of mystery as to what exactly will be the new direction for the main Avengers title. With Jonathan Hickman always having a relatively big plan for each of his storylines, it would be hard not to be curious as to what bigger schemes he has in mind.

Fortunately, it seems that the writer is already hard at work at planting new seeds, with this story picking up on some of the ideas established previously in the series as well as in New Avengers. However, if the new seeds are too nebulous or are simply not interesting enough, it does not bode well for the future of the title. Which one is it, though?

On a first look basis, the newer elements are rather interesting, with the arrival of a team that is rather familiar for Marvel fans, with the arrival of one of the earliest incarnation of the Avengers from somewhere else in the multiverse. Using this new team as a focal point in this issue as well as A.I.M., Hickman provides a certain aura of mystery and nostalgia that manage to makes this issue rather interesting conceptually. Playing with the incursion events and the whole plethora of universes and its infinite possibilities, the writer hints at how different those Avengers are from the norm established in the series until now, teasing at possible confrontations and revelations that makes this opening chapter to this current arc an effective one.

The further agenda of A.I.M. is also something of interest, as was hinted in the first phase of the title before Infinity as well as in Secret Avengers, making their role in the Marvel universe that much more interesting. The super-science and their general motivations makes for rather interesting scenes, with a certain ambiguity toward their end goal that promises much, yet shown little. It can be a bit infuriating to be teased about their villainous plans rather than being hinted at, yet with the low amount of focus on their work in favour of the ”All-New Avengers” as dubbed by the solicitations, it’s really a minor inconvenience at best.

What’s bit uneven, though, is the dialogue in this issue. There are occasional lines that are rather genuinely entertaining, with a certain cleverness and attention to humor that makes them fun, but there is also the general approach to hyperbole in the ominous that Hickman is well-known for that can be a bit annoying at times. It isn’t the biggest or most obvious of weaknesses, but it is notable even if its minor most of the time as the dedication to being dramatic can lead to somewhat forced lines at times.

Another aspect that is uneven is the art of Salvador Larroca, who seems to be quite at ease in many aspects of this issue, though not all of them. Dealing very well with technology and general science-fiction, the backgrounds and many elements found therein that deals with machinery looks fantastic, with a certain dedication to precision and details that makes the technology look very fantastic and not too far-fetched in the pseudo-science department. The characters are also rather well-done most of the time, with the body language and poses of the characters being rather clear and evocative enough to present the right emotions at the right time. Where it falters quite a bit, though, is the general inability of Larroca to produce a wide range of emotions for his characters. A lot of characters, though not all, are only delegated to show serious and angry look on their face, looking stoic and cold despite some of the elements found there. While it can fit in some contexts found in the issue, many characters only show a certain variation of that face instead of anything else, with a very restricted range of emotion on display in the many pages here.

Still as it may, the colorization by Frank Martin makes up for it in many regards, with his expert touch enhancing quite a few pages in terms of tone. With a very thorough approach to clear-cut contrasts and a nuanced approach to brightness and shading at times, the colors here are rather evocative, with the more mysterious aspects of the script being set very well against the almost sterile and cold environment of A.I.M. and S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s nowhere near as brilliant as some of Frank Martin’s previous work, but it is still quite fitting with the themes proposed in this issue, which makes the visuals look quite good thanks to his cooperation.

The Conclusion
: With some rather inventive ideas and a good approach toward exploiting them, this issue provides quite a lot of interesting material for the future of the title. With a solid enough performance by Larroca and Martin, it also manage to look quite decent too.

Grade: B

Hugo Robberts Larivière