(Marvel Comics, 2013)
Review by Shawn Warner
WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Hickman & Nick Spencer
ARTWORK BY: Mike Deodato
COLOR ARTWORK BY: Frank Martin
LETTERING BY: VC’s Cory Petit
There is no denying that Jonathan Hickman is taking his time telling his Avengers story. Everything that has happened thus far including the White Event has been yet another puzzle piece slipped meticulously into place leading up to Infinity. The pace though slow at times is necessary to accommodate the amount of detailed information that Hickman is providing us with. These intricacies could easily be lost in an onslaught of action scenes and battles for the sake of battles. Instead Hickman slowly builds to a crescendo very dramatically forestalling the action until it is inevitable like a boiling kettle it erupts and it makes perfect, beautiful and logical sense. That being said do not let me give the impression that this book is without action, intrigue and even humor, that is not the case at all. This is a balanced extremely well written and surgically plotted story that includes a full spectrum of emotions; each issue builds upon the last.
In issue 12 The Avengers are in the Savage Land as they attempt to educate the humanoid offspring of Ex Nihilo’s plan to ready them to survive outside of a sheltered environment. Hickman addresses the key point of whether or not these creatures who have no need of anything could actually come to appreciate anything including life itself. This dilemma is perhaps best understood by Thor and Hyperion who are themselves immortal and as such have a very different view of the concept of need. This is heavy material to say the least but Hickman manages to make this one of the more lighthearted issues in the run thus far. He strikes a perfect balance of ponderous subject matter and character chemistry, pairing up members to achieve an entertaining team dynamic. Where Thor and Hyperion are used to handle some of the higher ideals, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman are there to lighten the mood. Clint and Jessica provide some snappy dialogue that though comedic is not so much so that it comes across as jarring and silly, it’s just funny.
The Superior Spider-Man uses his stint as teacher to illustrate the importance of survival skills, though his methods do not meet with the approval of an on-looking Hyperion and Iron Man. Some of the best lines in this issue are ascribed to Spider-Man. In defense of his teaching methods he states emphatically, “You raise them to be messiahs; they’ll make for wonderful martyrs.” His point is driven home just then when a saber-toothed beast attacks. Hawkeye handily sends an arrow through the predator’s heart only to realize that it was just a distraction. The real threat was two winged beasts that flew away with a child in each of their claws. However they were not to be devoured, their fate was to be delivered to the High Evolutionary.
This was one of my favorite issues so far. It has a little bit of everything; action, suspense, witty dialogue and The Avengers being a team, everything that we have come to expect from Jonathan Hickman. He has put his mark on The Avengers in the way he did to The Fantastic Four years before. Hickman is so smart but he doesn’t bog us down with nomenclature and endless lines of techno-babble. He gives us well thought out plots that slowly build into epic tales that impact the characters we love for years to come. When I read anything he writes I feel like each word has been carefully considered by a master story teller, there is no happenstance, Jonathan Hickman is more than a writer he is a builder of worlds and I can’t wait to see what he is building for us in Infinity.
Mike Deodato’s pencils are tremendous. He is so perfect for this book. His moody lighting and mastery of facial expression enhances the story to an almost cinematic degree. The page lay-outs are dynamic making optimum use of panels and splash pages. Deodato is no stranger to The Avengers he has worked with the characters extensively and it shows. He handles them with a certain reverence yet there is an intimate familiarity that comes across, whether it is in a slight grin on Thor’s face or a pose struck by Iron Man, this man knows these characters. His body of work for Marvel is beyond impressive it is extraordinary.
Avengers has been an unmitigated pleasure since issue 1 and I see no signs that it is going to veer from its current trajectory. Jonathan Hickman and Mike Deodato are the perfect team to bring us the Avengers. It has everything a great comic book should have; adventures on a grand intergalactic scale, heroes in peril, the Earth in the balance but at its core are real human emotions, I love this book. So in light of all I have said I would give this issue a rating of 4.5 out of five and my highest recommendation to add this title to your subscription list. Now is the time to jump on before Infinity.
So until next week, see you at the comic book store my friends.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629