After Brian Michael Bendis’ monumental run with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes ended with the conclusion of the ‘End Times’ stories in ‘Avengers’ #34 and ‘New Avengers’ #34, Jonathan Hickman has now taken over as the main man when it comes to the Avengers. ‘Avengers’ #1, the first issue of his reign, hit comic shops last week and began a brand new chapter in the history of Marvel’s premiere gathering of heroes.

Before getting into the story itself, it’s worth noting up front first and foremost that this issue is beautiful. I’d usually save the art talk for the end of a review, but it’s just too good not to talk about it first. This book is beautifully designed. The roster charts and the title pages are absolutely gorgeous in their simplicity. After you move on from the introductory pages, you find that Jerome Opeña’s artwork is pretty stunning as well. There’s realness to the art that is tangible and  there is a certain uniqueness of that in these pages – as though these people and threats are really out there. For example, the Hulk is simply savage. Many artists depict him as such, but I could see the one in this book in front of me heroically smashing his way through my city. He also has a bit of old school flavor to him in the face that reminds me of Jack Kirby’s depiction of him. In fact, a lot of these characters have that old school feel about them. The people behind the artwork on this title knocked it out of the park with this issue.

Now, in terms of the story, Captain America leads Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, The Hulk, and Thor in a mission to Mars in an attempt to thwart new villain Ex Nihilo and his cohorts Abyss and Aleph as they attempt to make the red planet green by creating a newer, better Earth complete with “newer, better” humans called “The Garden”. When his teammates become indisposed during the battle, the world-razer sends Steve Rogers back to Earth as a message to it’s inhabitants. This proves to be a mistake when Cap initiates a new protocol developed by Tony Stark and himself to make the team of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes larger.

Look at how sexy this is. I want this on my wall.

I was very excited and had high expectations about this new normal in the Marvel Universe in regards to the Avengers during the months leading up to this release. We knew that things were going to get bigger for the Avengers and with a story called ‘Avengers World’, how could it not?

With Marvel NOW and ‘Avengers’ #1, it’s like a whole new entity and I’m back at square one because there are so many ingredients in this mixture that most readers may be unfamiliar with. Not only do you get favorites like Captain America, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, and Hawkeye teaming up, there are other heroes joining the party as well. For instance, I’ve never heard of Captain Universe nor have read a single issue of ‘New Mutants’, so I’ve never had the chance to see Cannonball and Sunspot in action, yet I’m stoked to see what they’ll bring to one of my all-time favorite teams.

To put it simply, reading ‘Avengers’ #1 almost feel s like becoming a fan for the first time all over again. There’s so much newness that will excite the reader to want to find out more and Jonathan Hickman has big plans for the Avengers which is evident in this first issue. This is definitely one of the best Marvel NOW has to offer. A whole new world has been awoken and it deserves a good look.

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