Mistake. Captain America and Iron Man have been making plans, for a bigger squad of Avengers to deal with bigger threats. After three days recovering from his wounds, Cap sends out the call: Assemble at dawn ...
Writer Jonathan Hickman makes a confident Avengers debut, introducing new threats, promising big things and couching it all in a framework that manages to feel mythic, but not pompous. Ex Nihilo, apparently a 'Higher Evolutionary', has the calm arrogance of the supposed superior being, while main Avengers players Iron Man and Cap carry the assurance of men who have stared down gods, and beaten them. The capture of five Avengers, prompting Cap to break out the new team, has echoes of the All-New X-Men's debut with Krakoa, but it's a classic set-up because it works. And the difference here is that Iron Man saw that something this big was coming, so he and Cap have spent the previous month signing up new recruits, putting them on call.
We see some of the new members on the final page, along with existing Avengers, and I love that I don't recognise them all - one of the joys of growing up an Avengers fan was occasionally being introduced to fresh characters (Who's that bald woman? And the girl with antennae?). Another was seeing neglected favourites step up to the ranks of Earth's Mightiest, and here we're teased with Cannonball and Hyperion. And I'm delighted to see Falcon back with an Avengers squad. Yep, I think I'm going to like this Mightier Avengers; the idea has been done previously, but not for an extended period of time, as seems to be the plan here.
There's a hint of things to come in the upcoming New Avengers relaunch, as Cap dreams about the Illuminati, and of a massive space battle that will presumably be played out here. Hickman is trying his best to hook readers, hoping we'll commit to spending $3.99 every fortnight, and while I can fault the price point and frequency, I can't argue with his enthusiasm and craft.
There's also commendable work on display from artist Jerome Opena. Whether he's drawing intimate conversations at Avengers Tower, or awe-inspiring space vistas, Opena pulls us into the story, constantly finding the interesting perspectives that make even the most familiar scenes seem new.
Ex Nihilo, though, he works - he's bulky, like a space minotaur, and an omega chest symbol gives him a familiar hook. Aleph - why an apparent alien is named for the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is something we'll hopefully be told later - is a pretty generic robot-type, while Abyss is also unremarkable, though her floaty hair is a nice touch. Dean White deserves a big nod for thoughtful colour work throughout.
While the pagination here is above that of most Marvel Now! books, a full spread given over to title, credits and indicia is a terrible waste. There's also a page showing an Avengers graphic on Iron Man's screen which looks to be one of Hickman's patented designs. Again, I'd rather have story, but if we didn't have this we'd likely just have a house ad, so let's go with it.
I'm not keen on Dustin Weaver's cover illustration, with Cap towering over us like Giant Man, and everyone lost in a storm of flashes. Plus, that new logo is a very dull thing indeed, I hope it's there for the first few issues only.
Looking at the big picture, though, this is a fine first issue, with story and art gelling into a coherent whole. There's a credible threat, new team dynamics to look forward to and signs of a vision, an actual reason for yet another new Avengers book to exist. Avengers #1 is nicely assembled.