Tensions continue to build in Jonathan Hickman’s ‘Avengers’ as we get closer and closer to ‘Infinity’. Now that A.I.M. has awakened something that it should not have, it is heading straight to Australia where the Avengers don’t even get a moment to breath after a battle.
That’s where we last left Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in issue fifteen. They were enthralled in battle with whatever emerged from Ex Nihilo’s origin bombs. It was a hard-fought skirmish, but the team came out on top. However, Dr. Bruce Banner learned that the fight was just starting as something very dangerous was heading their way.
Now, as the warrior heads straight into a fight, we catch up with Starbrand to see what powers he has developed since we last saw him, with Captain Universe and Manifold on the other side of the galaxy and with Banner as he tries to remain calm. Spoiler alert: He doesn’t.
And that’s why the book sort of failed me. After seeing Hulk on the cover and reading along as Banner hulked out, I was disappointed that the gamma green giant didn’t get thrown into action. Over in ‘Indestructible Hulk’, Maria Hill can pull a lever or press a button anywhere in the Hellicarrier and Banner is in the air plummeting into his next mission, but a Hulkbuster team can’t be ready in a matter of minutes when the doctor loses it? I feel like Hill would be prepared for something like that if and when it happens. And on top of that little faux pas, Hulk didn’t even get to smash anything! There was a lot of build towards that echoing from the last issue, so to not get it was a huge bummer.
However, despite the Hulk problem, this issue did go into some interesting exposition for ‘Infinity’. The scenes with Starbrand are definitely going to come into effect, but the larger story here is Captain Universe’s message to the Avengers. While they already have dubbed Earth an Avengers World, they’re going to have to expand to create an Avengers Universe and that is most definitely something that I’m looking forward to seeing.
In the end, this issue turned out to be one of the weaker ones in Hickman’s run so far. But I can tell that a bunch of the little things in this issue will have big payoffs eventually, so in the grander scheme of things, this was fairly necessary and not entirely filler.
Written by Jonathan Hickman with Nick Spencer
Art by Stefano Caselli & Frank Martin
Cover by Leinil Yu & Sunny Gho