In 2013, Jonathan Hickman began his epic and complex journey on The Avengers. Releasing a year after the highly successful Avengers film from the prior year, Jonathan Hickman managed to take the team to new heights in familiar territory and at first sight, I knew I was in for a fun ride.
Let me take you back a little bit. Growing up, my exposure to comic books was heavy thanks to my father. Comic books were a reading aid for me, but over time they became a great escape from the scary world outside my window and would go on to fuel my imagination for the writer I’d yet to become. Just like Hickman’s Avengers run, the world of comics is diverse and full of amazing stories and expansive, complex worlds created by many creative teams. There was almost no comic I wouldn’t pick up, which caused me to read and own more than fourteen thousand comics with all the trips to my local shop, The Game Room, as my wallet would allow. Out of all the comics that I’ve read though, The Avengers has always stuck out to me; With an ever expanding roster, creative teams, and occasionally controversial storylines, I just knew that I’d read another interesting take on the team after Hickman was onboard.
When first reading the initial arc of the series, there are a lot of complex subplots being set up. Per usual, a new team of Avengers must be formed to tackle the constant threats to Earth and Captain America looks to Iron Man for a solution to it all. Enter: The Avengers Machine! As a way to always be prepared, the Avengers Machine expanded the roster from the standard 6-7 team, to a whopping 14 hero roster packed with hitters from every part of the Marvel Universe! I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the initial charts, as Hickman is a chart and info page kinda guy, I knew this wasn’t your average Avengers tale. The artwork by Jerome Opéna is absolutely gorgeous along with the rotation of other artists like Salvador Larroca, Leinil Francis Yu, and other great artists and the massive talent of colorists and other creatives just makes the series pop like no other.
As we progress into the series, you see a lot of events unfold from subplots that had been established in the beginning. The decay of the universe, Star Brand emerging to face a new threat, Ex Nilho warning of the Builders, hostility between Steve and Tony due to the latter moonlighting with The Illuminati over in New Avengers (also penned by Hickman), and just so much more titillating material. Over the course of the series, we see that every character manages to get a level of development as opposed to being there as a plot device before going back to their part of the world. Every character felt important to me and I truly felt for the team as they were put through the wringer issue after issue. Yet, the most impressive part of the series was its stacked roster!
From the likes of street level heroes like Spider-Man and the Falcon to multicultural heroes like Shang-Chi and Manifold to the powerful pie loving iteration of Captain Universe, you get a team packed with diverse skill sets to tackle just about anything thrown in the Avengers playing field. Starbrand and Captain Universe on the Avengers alongside Hyperion and Thor, sheesh, talk about a bad day for whatever villain goes up against them. When it comes to team centric books, Jonathan Hickman definitely does a swell job in giving everyone a clear, succinct voice just as he did in the Secret Warriors series that he finished prior to beginning his tenure on this one.
The heavily self contained storylines that this spectacular group of Avengers went through was nothing short of amazing. Aside from crossing over into Infinity, another Hickman written event filled with Inhumans and Thanos being his same grumpy self; There is more than enough fun to be had within the 44 issues from start to its super sized finish right before the 2015 Secret Wars event. I spent restless nights obsessed with dissecting Hickman’s Avengers run as much as I could, which would eventually lead to my own journey creating comic books roughly eight years after the start of this run. Writing one’s own comic is a fun and frustrating experience, but the reward of it is nothing short of joyful when you can find mentorship from comic books you’ve read.
If you haven’t checked out this series, then I urge you to seek it out and brace yourself for a masterful telling of the Avengers and their goal to truly be Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Truly a comfort food comic.
Devin Arscott is the Writer/Creator of Magni the Mighty and editor of The Sentinel on Webtoons/Patreon