(Marvel Comics, 2014)
Review by Shawn Warner
Written by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Spencer
Artwork by Stefano Caselli
Color Artwork by Frank Martin
Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer share a unique chemistry, the resulting brilliance of which is evident in their collaborative pre-Infinity issues of Avengers last summer. These two writers complement one another to a degree heretofore not seen in the comic book medium; Hickman masterfully brings the high science fiction elements and theoretical science slant while Spencer tempers the complex theorem heavy plots with superb character interactions and that wonderfully wacky often Monty Python-esque humor that has propelled The Superior Foes of Spider-Man to the must-read status it deserves. Together with artistic virtuoso, Stefano Caselli, these co-writers have crafted a very nearly perfect first issue.
The narrative actually begins in the Marvel Now Point One issue in which an uneasy alliance is formed between a cautious Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D’s impetuous director, Maria Hill. It is familiar territory for both sides however this time Cap has consulted Doctor Banner for some advice on managing Director Hill. It is Cap’s hope that Banner’s close working relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D will yield some useful tips in making this a cohesive collaboration. However any pretense of comfort is out the window when Cap shows up late for his first sit rep meeting with Hill. The dialogue is so precise and authentic that it perfectly captures the dynamic and tone of these relationships; Cap and Banner speak more like friends, so a lighter mood is evident in their conversation but when he is speaking with Hill there is an air of professional courtesy and respect of perceived authority. This is not to say that Cap acquiesces mindlessly to Hill just that he knows who’s in charge on the helicarrier.
The scope of this series and the extensive cast falls in line with the other Hickman Avengers books however in contrast to the other series, the science fiction tropes seem to be greatly diminished, in place of the universe spanning threats of hostile alien species and collecting elusive cosmic gems these Avengers will face much more terrestrial menaces like A.I.M and the Gorgon led ninja of the Hand. These elements all work organically with Hickman’s previous work, creating one big narrative that becomes clearer with each successive arc.
Avengers World is much more character driven than the other Avengers books, it has a more intimate feel and because of that the chemistry between characters becomes more apparent, friendships and other relationships seem to have a greater importance placed on them in this series. I think this is going to add a dimension of interpersonal complexity that the other books, because of the scale and scope of the plots, may have missed out on. That is where Nick Spencer excels; he is a master of character development and scripting sincere dialogue that rings true. There is a very natural sense to the way Spencer’s characters speak, a level of realism and believability that comes through and is often the difference that makes a good comic book a great one.
Avengers World is the third series in the line by the prolific scribe and with it Hickman has carved out a corner of the 616 all to himself. He has indelibly changed the franchise and with it the approach to event storytelling, taking the time to set up long over-arching narratives that remain complex and engrossing without becoming convoluted and confusing. Hickman’s stories a multi-faceted, nuanced and meticulously detailed undertakings that satisfy and amaze, Avengers World promises to continue the adventure with increased prominence placed on character driven plots and humorous interaction.
Stefano Caselli’s contribution to this book is some of the most dynamic art he has created for an Avengers title. The highly talented artist has collaborated with Hickman in the past to stunning result. Caselli’s style suits the super hero genre so well with his kinetic sense of character design and dynamic page composition. His pages come alive and the action spills from panel to panel creating a cinematic vibe that heightens the sense of urgency in the battle sequences and brings an overall energy to the book in general.
Avengers World does not disappoint, it is engrossing from the first page and builds from there. Hickman and Spencer work in perfect concert, one complementing the other in a collaboration of brilliant equals. Even if you haven’t been reading the previous Avengers titles I would recommend picking up Avengers World as a jumping on point, however the real payoff is in reading all of these superlative works and watching this complex and intelligent narrative unfold. So until next time, Excelsior! (4.8/5)
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629