“Wake the World”
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Jerome Opeña
Retails for $3.99
“We need to get bigger”, Tony Stark said to Steve Rogers in the first issue of the Avengers by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña. As a brilliant billionaire with his mind on the future (and women), Tony is aware of the ever-changing world and the escalating threats against it. He wants the Avengers to prepare for any danger that might rear its ugly head, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s exactly what happens next. Ex Nihlo, a god-like being from Mars, is planning to remake the Earth and launches two biosphere altering bombs at it. After tracing the bombs back to Mars, the Avengers fly off and take on Ex Nihlo and his comrades. Like Tony, Hickman is preparing the Avengers for bigger dangers ahead in his run, and, thanks to Opeña’s strong penciling, delivers an ambitious and enjoyable opening issue.
There’s a nice biblical tone to this issue, with the “Previously in Avengers” recounting the Big Bang; Ex Nihlo’s name deriving from the Latin phrase associated with creation, “out of nothing”; the way the superheroes respond to Captain America’s call near the end; and other small examples. The religious references aren’t exactly subtle, but they’re not overbearing either. The theme of adapting to change is also well done, with the story shifting from Iron Man’s and Ex Nihlo’s perspective on the world, and Captain America, a hero from the 40s adjusting to modern life, in the center of it. Out of everyone, Captain America is portrayed the best in this issue, with his skills and bravery on full display. My favorite scene from this issue is when Captain America refuses to yield to an enemy, despite being pummeled to the ground.
With Hickman establishing all these big events in his premiere issue, something had to give in order for everything to fit within 26 pages (excluding ads) and unfortunately it was Black Widow, Hawkeye, Thor, and Hulk’s proper introductions. Sans Iron Man, the rest of the Avengers aren’t established as Captain America. Granted, the story doesn’t demand you to know these characters and anyone who’ve seen The Avengers movie will know enough about them, but given that this is series is part of the Marvel Now relaunch aimed at non-comic readers, a quick summary on them would’ve suffice. If Scott Snyder can brief readers in on who’s who in issue one of his Batman reboot for DC Comics, Hickman could do the same.
The penciling in this issue by Opeña was excellent. All the characters look great and were rich in detail. Opeña’s Hulk especially looked incredible as he stepped on Mars for the first time, and the action involving him and the other characters conveyed the right amount of wallop. While I was a little disappointed to see Captain America lose his traditional costume in favor of a more movie inspired one, Opeña’s version looked a million times better than the recent live action look. The only bad thing I can say about Opeña’s art is that Captain America’s nose looked a bit long at times, but that’s it. Despite an unnecessary two paged title display, there was enough room for the panels to breath.
Overall, I’m pleased with issue one of the Avengers. I’m excited to see how Hickman will reinvent the team and how Opeña will illustrate it all. If Hickman can keep up with the big and bold ideas he’s presenting here, than we’re looking at a great Avenger run in the making. Tony said the Avengers needed to get bigger; let’s see how big they’ll get under Hickman.