Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Kieron Dwyer (p), Rick Remender (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens with the Scarlet Witch waking up from a nightmare, before we look in on Yellowjacket & the Wasp as these two are in Washington D.C. when the city is engulfed by a massive anomaly. We then join Captain America & the Falcon as we see these two are on the trail of Mister Hyde, as the hulking villain sent a young woman to the hospital with life threatening injuries. However when the two confront Mister Hyde, we see that they're not alone, as after the villain lists off his past accomplishments, we see Captain America calls forth the rest of the Avengers. While the battle does rage for some time we see the battle is quickly ended when the Scarlet Witch is struck by a piece of flying debris, and an enraged Vision delivers a battle ending attack Mister Hyde's way. The Avengers then find themselves called back to the Mansion, where they learn that cities all across the globe have been engulfed by anomalies similar to the one we saw consume Washington D.C. earlier in the book. As the book ends we see that the Avengers are called upon to provide the desperately needed leadership that the world is now lacking thanks to these mysterious anomalies.
The first issue of Geoff Johns hopefully lengthy run is here, and I can now congratulate myself of resisting the temptation to read the preview in "Wizard". So the big question naturally has to be has Geoff Johns brought the same magic to this book that he's used over at DC, that has resulted in the Flash & the J.S.A. being two of the best titles coming out of the competition. Based on this first issue the jury is still out, as while there's some highly enjoyable moments in this issue, starting with our first introduction to the assembled Avengers, and the issue also ends with a rather clever scenario that places the Avengers in a very unique position. However there's also moments where I was a bit concerned by some odd behavior, like the fact that Mister Hyde decided to turn tail & run when confronted by the Avengers, or the unusual eruption of tension between Ant-Man & Jack-of-Hearts. However, the latter may be a plot point that is linked to the Scarlet Witch's poor health, as the Vision is also acting is saddled with a rather cold demeanor, and the final page would seem to suggest that Wanda's discovered a rather unsettling reason for this.
Since one can pretty much pick out the cast of Avengers that are featured inside the issue by studying the cover, I'm not going to try & conceal the new additions that Geoff Johns has made to the cast. The Falcon has never really struck me as an Avenger in spite of this fairly impressive stint with the team, but I've always been partial to the non-powered set of heroes, and as long as his being here isn't keeping Hawkeye from stepping in to fill this role in the Avengers, I welcome the Falcon's presence. As for the Black Panther, given I consider his monthly title to be one of the best titles Marvel puts out, I do hope that the higher profile that comes with being part of this book's cast results in a bump in sales on the character's solo title. Plus, with Iron Man on the team, I do hope that Geoff Johns plays up the tension that was left lingering after Iron Man's recent guest-appearance in T'Challa's book. She Hulk is always a welcome addition, as she always been one of my favorites ever since her time in the Fantastic Four. However, Ant-Man does seem a bit redundant on a team that already has the Wasp & Yellowjacket in its lineup.
Kieron Dwyer turns in one of his best looking issue's yet, as the credit page shot of Captain America & the Falcon is a wonderful piece, as is the follow-up shot of the assembled Avengers. He also deserves credit for delivering one of the most disturbing versions of Mister Hyde that I've ever come across, as the transformation sequence itself made for a great visual introduction to the villain. Now the fight sequence could've been a little stronger, as there precious few bone-crushing impact shots, and given the Avengers were up against Mister Hyde, this is almost sacrilegious. However, the art does do a nice job conveying the idea that the Scarlet Witch is in very poor health, and there's also a great Vision moment where we see him & Captain America launch a very painful looking attack Mister Hyde's way. There's also a nice shot of the Avengers on the second-to-last page, and the opening & closing pages that detail the Scarlet Witch's troubles are both very strong visually. I mean how can one not be instantly curious when the art suggests that Captain America is Death. The cover to this issue is also a very nice effort, as I love its stark color scheme.
Well Geoff Johns doesn't exactly knock it out of the park on his first issue, but there are some promising elements in this issue, starting with the inclusion of a couple welcome additions to the group. He also starts us off with a fairly promising idea as we see the Avengers are placed in a position of power that evokes memories of Mark Gruenwald's classic "Squadron Supreme". Plus, while he's your basic super-strong goon, thanks to a couple memorable battles with Spider-Man & the Hulk, Mister Hyde has always been a welcome face on the super-villain front, though I must lodge a protest about his running away when confronted by the Avengers. I realize this is the smart move, but Mister Hyde's never been the brightest bulb in the box, and he's never been one to shy away from a fight. The situation with the Scarlet Witch also has me quite intrigued, and that final page is certainly an unexpected revelation.
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