Comic book review: Avengers #4

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Avengers #4

In the wake of Ex Nihilo’s devastating attack on Earth, the Avengers deploy in different teams all over the world to contain the damage. And so we enter: Hyperion. From Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert.

After the dramatic events of the Avengers’ mission to The Garden, the team is surveying the six S.H.I.E.L.D. quarantine zones. Scanning these zones, Hyperion sees that the impact site of Ex Nihilo’s origin bomb in the Savage Land is still infected, and calls the team in to investigate. Readers who found that the first three issues focused too much on Captain America and Iron Man will likely enjoy the focus shift of this issue, which does its best to utilize the different members of the team as well as introduce Hickman’s new Hyperion. Parallel to the main plot are flashback sequences explaining his origins, his capture by AIM, and eventual rescue by the Avengers, grounding this issue in his perspective and presenting him to readers unfamiliar with previous versions of the character. (Prior iterations used Hyperion as Marvel’s knock-off Superman, so it’s nice to see something new for a change.) This serves to highlight the two sides of Hyperion’s character: The tragic hero defined by his losses and the titan who rose from near-death to fight alongside the Avengers. In this issue, he strives to reconcile both. (And if you’re paying attention, you will notice how his backstory sounds a lot like what’s going on over in Hickman’s New Avengers.)

When the Avengers arrive in the Savage Land, the ecosystem is radically changed by the attack, and there are new creatures moving in the jungle. Hyperion soon finds a troop of AIM beekeepers nearby, taking samples of the mutated vegetation. Fusing the virus with a delivery system, they inject it into a test subject who suffers a violent reaction and quickly dies. Before AIM can clean up, Hyperion and Captain Marvel arrive on the scene. The beekeepers back-peddle to avoid a confrontation, claiming they have legal right to be there, but the Avengers don’t buy it. Before any beat-downs can commence, tentacles emerge from the test subject’s body and attack everything in reach.  Thor and Hyperion kill the creature and the AIM beekeepers are apprehended as the island is put into lockdown, but not before Hyperion finds himself surrounded by a newly evolved species springing from the nearby cocoons. When these vulnerable newborn animals reach out to Hyperion, he spares them. Meanwhile, in Norway, AIM locates the unknown seventh site of Ex Nihilo’s attack and their work continues.

A decided change in tone from the opening arc, this issue strives to set the stage for Hickman’s unfolding universe and the fallout of Ex Nihilo’s onslaught. Seeing that Hickman seems to have a plan for dealing with the consequences of The Garden, Adam, and having all of these demi-gods is refreshing. I had my own reservations about how the fall-out would be handled, and I’m glad that Hickman is addressing all this destruction rather than just dropping it for the next adventure. As the series movies along, I find myself enjoying this idea of sub-teams within the Avengers, squadrons assembled to handle certain situations, allowing the narrative to move more freely and cover more ground. Also I personally liked having Hyperion’s backstory explained here, but not everybody is going to find it as successful as I do.

As for the art, Kubert’s pencils were a solid complement to the story. Evocative with a great sense of movement, his art rooted the book in what I tend to feel is a more traditional superhero aesthetic. While I love Opena’s artwork, it would have been a little operatic for the tighter, more character-driven plot of this issue. My only nitpick would be that some of his faces became inconsistent panel-to-panel, sacrificing some level of anatomical accuracy for either speed or dramatic effect. After a few too many ape-faced Hyperions and severely constipated Captain Marvels, it undermined the polish from the overall work.

All nitpicks aside, this is a solid and enjoyable issue, and an interesting segueway into the larger universe this series is building up to.

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