After an excellent first issue with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Jonathan Hickman returns with another riveting installment of his new Marvel NOW Avengers book.

When we last left the team, Iron Man, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Thor, and Captain America ventured to Mars to squash a new threat in the form of Ex Nihilo, his sister Abyss, and the mysterious Aleph. Unable to thwart the villains’ plans, the team is defeated and held captive, except for Captain America, who is sent back to Earth as a message to the population. As one would suspect, that’s not how things went down as Cap initiates the new protocol that expands the Avengers roster in a way that we’ve never seen before.

In this issue, we get a little back-story on the new members of the team, as well as the new villains that were introduced in the last issue. We find out motives and origins in addition to the call to action that really sets our story into motion.

In all of the hubbub surrounding the first issue of this new Avengers series, I forgot to mention one very important thing: Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu, is now an Avenger!  In his expansion of the roster, Hickman made the team more diverse. Asians are rarely represented in mainstream media, so to see an Asian hero (which aren’t exactly abundant) on one of the most recognizable teams in comic book history makes me feel proud and, more importantly, included. Sure, there are aspects on the business side of things that’ll find this addition to the team favorable as well, but I’m choosing to see this as a great thing that I didn’t really get to have as kid, which is a positive representation of my broader culture in something popular.

Another reason why it’s awesome to see Shang on the team is that he’s a badass! It’s great to see that Hickman decided to bring out some lesser-known characters into the spotlight to fight alongside staples such as Wolverine, Spider-Man, and the gang. And for those who have never heard of Manifold, Smasher, Captain Universe, and the rest, it’s a great opportunity for them to learn about other corners of the Marvel Universe. Like I mentioned in my first review of this series, it’s like being a new fan all over again because of all these new heroes that we are getting to discover. Or, better yet, it’s like being a kid who comes home from school with new toys waiting for him on the kitchen table just waiting to be played with.

Overall, ‘Avengers’ is turning out to be a well-crafted story. We’re getting information as we need to know it. We have so many interesting characters to keep tabs on. And one of the best things of all, we have a villain who doesn’t see his mission as villainous. He wants to help the human race “evolve” because he saw them as “worthy”. Ex Nihilo doesn’t see what he’s doing as evil, and that’s a quality in bad guys that immediately makes them more interesting. Though the complexity and sheer magnitude of this title may be a little daunting for brand new fans that are just jumping on to Marvel Comics, it’s still a great book to pick up.

Final Score: