Early on in Jonathan Hickman’s run on ‘Avengers’, it was declared that Earth is an Avengers World. Most recently, this was put to the test during ‘Infinity’ and now there’s even a whole new series declaring this fact on the regular. But I guess that statement has made it’s way to other universes as well because apparently the cool thing to do is to show up on our Earth and join in on the action.
There was a point and time where we thought that it might have just been more time travel, similar to what Brian Michael Bendis did with ‘All-New X-Men’, but we learned in the last issue that the original team of Avengers from another universe found there way over to 616 thanks to those geniuses at AIM. Since they showed up, parts of New York City are in shambles and we have a dead Avenger on our hands.
Now, in the latest installment of arguably the most epic series involving Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in quite some time, we get the full story of how we ended up with a deceased Ant-Man, what the real Avengers were doing while the alternate versions ran amuck, and why a legion of adaptoid Avengers are running around as well.
For starters, I really like that the “original” Avengers popping up wasn’t a result of time travel. Don’t get me wrong because I love time travel and I’ll be into pretty much anything if there’s a time machine or a time displacement element to the story. However, in the Marvel Universe, they’ve kinda used their limit of time travel stories for the foreseeable future after the events of ‘Age of Ultron’. I don’t even think they’ve fully addressed the complete fallout from that yet either. The time stream is severely damaged, yet it’s not something on the radar of a majority of the heroes at the moment. Of course, there are a few more pressing matters at hand currently, but before the House of Ideas revisits that particular idea, I’d say that allowing some space between the next major time travel tale would do us all some good.
So since it’s not time travel, what is it? Well, keeping in line with ‘New Avengers’, it looks like things are related to parallel universes. But if you’ve been reading that book, then these alternate versions of the characters we know and love aren’t as surprising as what AIM has been up to. For a month, they’ve been gathering materials and developing an army of amalgamated adaptoid Avengers. Although the slightly more aggressive throwback Avengers from another world are very interesting, I think that the things going on with these adaptoids might be more interesting to me right now. After the initial reading of this issue, I had to go back and read parts over again because I wasn’t entirely sure what was up with them. It’s all a big mystery at this point still, but it looks as if they’re forming a plan to step out from AIM and the Avengers’ shadows. Just to be clear, I don’t really know what to expect from this part of the story, but I’m really curious to find out more about the adaptoids and their part in whatever is going on in this series.
While this new chapter of this saga brought about more questions than it did answers, one thing that has stayed constant throughout Hickman’s run is the comedy. He always has a lot to say through some very high concept sci-fi elements in his stories lately, but the funny parts are always present at the right moments. My favorite gag was when the team was sharing their alibis with Director Hill and Tony shares that he was getting a manicure while Thor was getting drunk. It’s a great page and it’s a nice break from the largely serious events taking place. This is a Marvel superhero comic book after all, so I feel like there has to some sort of levity somewhere and I think Hickman always provides those moments where I don’t think I should be laughing so hard at them even though I am.
Finally, I’ve heard of some people just getting confused by what’s going on in ‘Avengers’ right now. I prefer to think of it as “complex” rather than “confusing”. Just like with ‘Infinity’, Hickman has a lot to set up before we really start getting into the main course of the story. After 26 issues and a huge crossover event, I’ve come to accept this as his way of storytelling, so I find myself being more patient when it comes to a payoff in his Avengers books. So far, there has always been a satisfying payoff, so there’s no reason to doubt Hickman when things get a little complex at times. Just go along for the ride and read the comic over again before the next one comes out. It should all be worth it in the end, even if that end is months and months away. Talk about the long game, Hickman has that locked down and he does it very, very well.
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Salvador Larroca & Frank Martin