Review: Avengers #4

I think it is fair to say that we at Multiversity, as well as most of the comics community, was very excited about Jonathan Hickman taking over “Avengers.” The first two issues piqued our excitement and promised a wide open, grand story with lots of interesting characters taking center stage.

And then #3 came out.

Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Adam Kubert

The Secret Origin of Hyperion.
The Legacy of the Garden unfolds in the Savage Land.
“We’ll have to field test our theories here. NOW.” –Dr. Deeds

A storyline that seemed like it could last a year came to a halt via an almost literal deus ex machina near the end of the issue. Something something “Avengers world.”

The issue was met with a lot of criticism and, in this reviewer’s opinion, rightly so. For an opening salvo so bold and far reaching, it came to an abrupt and, frankly, lame ending. A big part of that was that the character so responsible for the resolution of the issue, Captain Universe, had next to no introduction, nor did two of the other characters on the newly constructed team: Hyperion and Smasher.

This issue is the first of three that sets out to fix that, by giving each of the three characters an issue focused on them, to tell their origin and show how they fit within this newly constructed Avengers team. Up first is Hyperion, a character with multiple iterations throughout the years, but given a clean slate here by Hickman. In the past, the character has been a pretty clear Superman analogue, and not always a successful one.

Hyperion’s origin takes up about half of the issue, and manages to fill in the big gaps in his origin: we know that he is from a parallel Earth, although that, too, is not his original home. Much like Superman, he still was sent off his home planet before its destruction and landed on Earth. Unlike Superman (and perhaps more like Dr. Manhattan), Hyperion never seems to acquire the humanity that makes Superman such an effective symbol of heroics; instead, Hyperion views things on the molecular level, as well as on the macro level, and tries to do what is right, but does so from a somewhat detached perspective.

The most interesting part of this origin story is the detail of how he exactly got to “our” Earth – two Earths were about to collide and destroy both planets, when he found himself in some sort of limbo before being pulled here. Does that scenario, the two Earths about to collide part, sound familiar? If you’re reading “New Avengers,” it should. Not only was a Hyperion killed in “New Avengers” #1, but this is precisely the situation that the Illuminati are trying to avoid with the series. This is the first connective tissue between the two books, and it helps to unite what are two disparate books.

It is fitting that Adam Kubert is the fill-in artist this month, as his style fits Hyperion’s tale to a tee. Kubert has worked on the entire pantheon of superheroes, from Superman to Wolverine to the Legion of Super-Heroes, and he takes a little bit of each of those and applies them here, mostly to great effect. His Thor is a revelation, and a cursory glance at his bibliography shows that he’s never had a real run on the character. Not that I’m wishing Esad Ribic off of “Thor: God of Thunder,” but next time a fill in is needed, may I suggest Kubert?

Outside of Hyperion’s origin, the story revolves around the cleanup from the first arc. I am glad to see some vestiges of the first arc stick around, but it still doesn’t ease the feeling that last issue was a terribly abrupt ending. A smaller team is in focus here, which is also a good way to get the cast working together and giving people time to shine. Captain Marvel and Thor get the most play here, but it is clearly Hyperion’s issue.

Ultimately, I’m left with the same feeling at the end of #4 as I was at the end of #3, minus the disappointment: I just don’t know if this series can be successful. That is not to besmirch the talents of anyone involved, but the series is shaping up to be something with both a huge scale and the brightest lights upon it. When Hickman took over “Fantastic Four,” no one was looking to that book to carry the company. With Avengers being a huge hit film, the series has a certain expectation to it, and I don’t know if Hickman is the guy to deliver a book to the same guys who loved Robert Downey Jr. saying “We have a Hulk.”

The two audiences aren’t mutually exclusive, but I can’t help but see certain people picking up this book and thinking “what the hell did I just read?” I’m not one of those people, but I can see their perspective. Hickman has spoken about a “three year plan” for this and “New Avengers” – let’s hope that Marvel doesn’t hit the panic button and pull him off before he can achieve that plan.

Final Verdict: 6.5 – Browse, leaning towards Buy

About The AuthorBrian SalvatoreBrian Salvatore is an editor, podcaster, reviewer, writer at large, and general task master at Multiversity. When not writing, he can be found playing music, hanging out with his daughter, or playing music with his daughter. He also has a dog named Lola, a rowboat, and once met Jimmy Carter. Feel free to email him about good beer, the New York Mets, or the best way to make Chicken Parmagiana (add a thin slice of prosciutto under the cheese).

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User's Comments
  • Ken Stoltz

    Just really seems like a missed opportunity to bring the movie fan base together with the comic fan base. This might make fans of Hickman happy, but it turned me off. The sad thing is that there’s really great stuff coming out of Marvel right now with Hawkeye, Thor and Young Avengers as examples. Avengers just seems aloof in comparison.

    • clockstomper

      While I do like the high concepts villains, issue one seemed very intimidating to non-comics readers. I didn’t feel like i could share it with friends who liked the movie. The origin sequence in issue 2 helped make the villains clearer but the overstuffed Avengers roster of obscure characters just created new problems.

      Also not terribly excited about having 3 issues in a row focused on characters I don’t care about and a bunch of different art teams. I know it might have be interesting to learn about these characters but not for 3.99 a piece. This might have been better handled as shorter stories in the point one special.

  • Vince Ostrowski

    I agree with the general consensus about issues 3 & 4, but perhaps to a lesser degree. I love the inclusion of obscure characters and the hints of where everything is going, but I agree that the execution perhaps leaves something to be desired.

    But I’m a Hickman nut. I completely trust a “3 year plan” in a way that most comic fans won’t.

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