Jonathan Hickman is a genius--plain and simple. Never before have I read a comic book riddled with comic universe defying discontinuities that baffle me, but simultaneously entrance me. I always crave more at the end of a Hickman comic! -Like a drug fiend pleading for more, but eventually forgetting the “Why?” of it all- It is a truly curious affect that I attribute to quality writing. Like aforementioned, “plain and simple,” Hickman does it right. Pre-Marvel NOW! Hickman gave fans a remarkable Fantastic Four run, that inevitably spawned the equally spectacular series, Future Foundation. And, as much as I enjoyed these endeavors I always found something to be missing--as-if Hickman was merely scratching the surface of greatness, but never truly embracing it.
With the New Avengers, Hickman now has the opportunity. He is developing the most rich characters of the Marvel Universe with the same sort of reckless disregard for continuity that Grant Morrison does with Batman & Robin in Batman, Inc. They are both creating compelling tales on their terms and their respective companies allow them creative freedom because they sell comics.
New Avengers #1 sets the stage by breaking character a bit. It takes Doctor Strange, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Namor, and Captain America into a dark place. Specifically, into a secret organization called the Illuminati. Their sole purpose being: to rule society in secret in the best way possible. This organization is of course self-appointed and perfectly ‘qualified’ to do so. At the onset, the Illuminati sought to recruit the Black Panther into their midst, but due to the self-evident flaws in a secret society ruling humanity, T’Challa refused.
Primarily Hickman’s first issue focuses on the Black Panther, which is something that I have long-looked forward to. T’challa’s status within the Marvel Universe has grown these past few years to include large-scale Marvel events. The New Avengers takes bold steps in a good, ‘new’ direction. It may change how we view certain characters (even at times defying them), but it does not do so idly. It all has a purpose--you just have to trust Hickman.
The New Avengers headlines the top tier of Marvel NOW!--five-out-of-five stars. While you're at it, checkout Hickman’s Fantastic Four graphic novels and complete Future Foundation collection at Merlyn’s Sci-fi and Fantasy Shop in downtown Spokane.