If comic scribe Jonathan Hickman wrote a coloring book, it would end up being 600 pages long and have zero pictures. Nothing is easy with Hickman, from his plots to his dialogue – things must be dense and complex. The first story arc involving his take on the Avengers is barely cold when Hickman drops another verse on us. The children of the universe were only the beginning.
Two things are happening simultaneously within Avengers #4. The first has to do with alien fallout. The children of the universe, who had sent spores of their creation to Earth to try and recreate it as something better, have been defeated. Now it’s time to cordon off the biologically distraught areas and try to clean up and study what’s left. The second part has to do the Hyperion, the Superman-style member of the Avengers. We’re shown his life, how he grew up in the alternate universe, how he was taught about doing things for the greater good, even if the little people didn’t understand why. Hickman splits Hyperion into two parts, one a hero, the other, hiding a dark desire to raze all that he sees and start again.
Within those two things are smaller parts to make the whole. Alien clean-up has proven difficult as political dice have been cast and evil agencies like A.I.M. are up to no good. Outside of that, a shadow pod was detected, something that didn’t open with the rest of the pods. The Avengers scuttle off to the Savage Land, where the pod was calculated to be, only to find A.I.M. agents experimenting on interns. The Avengers bust that up, but A.I.M. is sneaky and the final scene may prove problematic for the team.
As for Hyperion, he apparently has sun children and might try to wipe us all out because he thinks he needs to. One of the most powerful heroes in the world is having split personality issues, which is never good. Hickman crams a lot into Avengers #4 without resorting to cheap exposition or easy explanations. Hickman wants you to discover things are you go and make connections as well. He doesn’t dumb down any aspect of his story. You either get it and roll with it, or you get off and waste time reading some other simplistic comic story.
The art from Adam Kubert is gorgeous. With so much story to tell, a misstep in the art could prove disastrous. Kubert doesn’t flinch. He lets you see what you need to see and allows your imagination to fill in the blanks. When Kubert does put pencil to paper, the whole book raises to another level. Kubert can easily switch between light pencil strokes in certain areas and more powerful lines in others. He never loses his ability to draw emotive faces nor does his unique style cause him to ruin the action. When Kubert opens up, it’s pretty amazing work.
(4.5 Story, 4.5 Art)