Avengers #1 - Avengers World
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Drawn by Jerome Opena
SPOILS BE AHEAD
Marvel kicks off their twice-monthly, Marvel NOW launch of the Avengers by bringing on the amazing Hickman (who made the Fantastic Four relevant and badass again) and Opena (who stunned the art world when Marvel brought him to Uncanny X-Force) to their billion-dollar franchise and it couldn't have been a bigger hit.
As the issue begins, we start at some point in the future, talking about how things have changed and what events may have been the start. As it brings us back to present day, we are told it all started with two men and an idea of being bigger. That if things are going to continue escalating, that the Avengers must be bigger in order to confront it.
We move forward one month to find new baddies, The Garden, on Mars after they have terraformed it, turning the red planet fully green. Seemingly lead by Ex Nihilo, he, a robot named Aleph and a lady who smokes black (think the smoke monster from LOST but human... Kinda...) have launched a bomb at Earth that will do exactly what they did to Mars in the hope to build a new world. Charge in the Avengers: Cap, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Widow and Hulk. They first stop the "origin bomb" and then go after the attackers. Though it wouldn't be a very creative start if that were it. After defeating all the Avengers, they take the beaten body of Captain America, strap him in the quinjet and send him back.
"These heroes were the best you had to offer. And they were found... Wanting."
Three days later, Cap thinks back to the conversation he and Tony had about being bigger. What that gives us may be the coolest, three-page ending in a comic in a very long time;
"It was a summoning. He was the first -- our very best. So when he called, what hero would not answer? It started with an idea. The spark that started the fire was expansion. Our captain spoke, and gave the idea form. He said the words, and made it real. He said...
Assemble at dawn.
And how could we not? We were Avengers."
This issue was brilliant. I can't say it enough. It had every beat you would expect and so much more and even when you were expecting it, Hickman delivered on a level that is rarely seen. When we get that final page (side picture), I had my goosebumps pecking for more. Here were our boys, in war and in trouble and Captain America just gathered the cavalry for the rescue charge. All we needed was the "dun dundun-duuun dun" music that plays when the helicopters come in to save the day in every war movie (and whose name is not known by anybody). This is the Avengers any fan could want and yet a completely new one that everybody should be reading.
For me, this is hands down the best Marvel Now start so far.