The dichotomy of what Jonathan Hickman is doing between Avengers and New Avengers is some of the most interesting work going on in comic books right now. Big Two, indie, home drawn comics on sheets of stolen printer paper – nobody is turning out better work than Hickman. While casting a serious doubt on the relationship between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers through a betrayal in New Avengers, Hickman is trying to create a bigger, more all encompassing team in the Avengers. In one series, the nucleus is the strength of the Stark/Rogers bond, in another series, that bond is easily destroyed.
While strife wears through New Avengers, Avengers itself is expanding its monolithic look at the team. Deep in outer space, a planet falls. As their attackers gain strength, one warrior is sent to alert Earth to the coming destruction. The warrior fails and when it hits our planet, all that remains is the eyepiece of the uniform. Cue Izzy, an astrophysicist who left her studies in Colorado to return to the family farm in Iowa, who finds the eyepiece and, once she puts it on, is transformed into a warrior of space and flies to the planet still under attack.
As Avengers #5 develops, it becomes clear that Hickman is looking to take the Avengers out of the streets. The Brian Michael Bendis era is over, and Hickman is rushing back to a time when the Avengers’ reach was clear into the folds of space and time. The defense of this planet is just the beginning. The end of Avengers #5 shows that something bigger is on the way. Does this “bigger" have something to do with the massive force the Illuminati is battling in New Avengers? As of right now, that’s unclear, but given how Hickman writes, this could easily all tie together.
Outside of being a good storyteller and making the most intricate plots easy to understand, Hickman is setting up human drama here. Not just fisticuffs, hero and villain battles, or simple team dynamics, but the real drama of human decisions and ideas and how they can run amok as what holds the entire story together. On a purely comic book level, Hickman also makes you damn excited for the next issue. There is no way of telling what will happen next, a rarity in comic books today.
Helping this epic story unfold is the art from Adam Kubert. Really, what more is there to say besides this is art by Adam Kubert? Yes, Kubert’s lines are strong, his inks heavy and his ability to dictate action unquestionable, but what makes Kubert so good is his ability to bring in and release the work. When heavy detail is needed, Kubert is right there, when a simpler panel is required, Kubert backs off. This creates a more cinematic look to the art, which fits in perfectly with the transcendent Hickman’s story is.
(4.5 Script, 4.5 Art)