After completing his first story arc since jumping from the ‘Fantastic Four’ books to the ‘Avengers’ books in issue three, Jonathan Hickman is starting to shine the spotlight on the various members that Captain America and Iron Man hand-picked to be on the new, expanded Avengers roster. He has some time to do that now since the threat of razing then rebuilding the Earth from Ex Nihilo, Abyss, and Aleph on Mars was dealt with by Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the last issue, but specifically by a new Captain Universe, who is still shrouded in a great deal of mystery.

In this issue, we get to know Hyperion, a hero from an alternate reality that ended up on Earth 616 when his world was colliding with another one. Meanwhile, though they thwarted the plans of the intergalactic villains threatening Earth, the Avengers still have to deal with the pods that were sent to their planet that were meant to initiate the rebuilding process. While only six managed to make it on the planet, our heroes must find ways to contain the contents of the pods so that they don’t spread.

Hickman is doing a vintage thing with ‘Avengers’ right now where he’s introducing his audience to the newer characters that he’s introducing in this series. He did a little bit of that with the more familiar faces on the team in issue two, but now he’s going for a more intimate look at the roster by spotlighting each member one by one. This is a good strategy because if you look at the amazingly designed roster page in the front of the book, you’ll notice that all the slots aren’t even filled in yet, so it’s good that we’re getting to know who we have first before anyone else joins the party.

As I said before, this book is all about Hyperion, who was originally created as Marvel’s answer to Superman as part of a team called Squadron Sinister and then later as part of Squadron Supreme. However, this Hyperion is different from all the other ones that appeared on those teams and elsewhere in the Marvel Multiverse. Apparently, each one is different as they all come from different universes. While I learned what I needed to know from reading the issue, I was compelled to read further online about why this character was chosen for the book. In an interview with Newsarama, Hickman had this to say about the Eternal:

“This is Hyperion without all that baggage. This is Hyperion with a fresh slate, for a very specific purpose. He comes out of what the big story is behind the whole Avengers three-year plan that I have. He’s very important, very pivotal, and I think people are really going to dig where we go with that. He’s not going to be our poor analogue for Superman.”

While I was very confused at first, especially when his origin in the book was really, really similar to Superman’s (who happens to be a hero that I despise), things cleared up upon completing my initial read of the issue and finding that interview. The character really is more than a Superman rip-off and I’m glad that Hickman is doing that intentionally to give him much more depth. I’m also glad that Hickman is working with these characters that make me want to know more about them than just what’s in the current issue. This will probably lead to checking out some additional reading of older trades, which might make the Marvel offices very happy.

Story-wise, it was a good balance of an origin story and a continuation of the story that’s been unfolding since issue one. The interconnectivity of everything is just marvelous. Not only are the stories between ‘New Avengers’ and ‘Avengers’ being loosely connected here (and not so much that you need to be reading both titles even though you should be since they’re both awesome), but all these characters from parts of the Marvel Universe that not many are privy to is fascinating. Marvel wasn’t messing around when they said that they were trying to highlight all parts of their comic book universe with the Marvel NOW initiative. While we’re seeing a lot more things come into play in all these new books like the cosmic side of Marvel, I’d say ‘Avengers’ is doing the best job in balancing it all, especially when you take into consideration how large it’s cast is.

This is a good start to the next chapter in Hickman’s ‘Avengers’. With veteran artist Adam Kubert and colorist Frank D’Armata joining the creative team, it’s really hard not to get into all aspects of this book.

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