The Sun Rises — Avengers #4 Review

In the aftermath of Ex Nihilo’s plans to change life on Earth, the Avengers are tasked with finding and locking down known impact sites to prevent spreading contamination and to keep interest groups out. In Japan, the Hand has already infiltrated one sector with no further news, and the governments of Canada and Australia have shuttered S.H.I.E.L.D.’s plans to help. The discovery of another impact site leads an Avengers squad headed by Captain Marvel and the Black Widow to the Savage Lands.

The impact site is filled with cocoons formed from life-forms now being reconstituted, and the outcome of A.I.M.’s experiment on an intern only proves how important it is that the impact sites are locked down.

Just as the team calls in backup and prepares for the worst, the cocoons open, and life emerges.

Avengers #4 gets a little personal with Hyperion, the newest Marvel character to carry that name. His origin story is revealed in part through flashbacks discussing his childhood, the conflicts he carries inside, and the tremendous responsibilities that come with his amazing powers, which like another famous superhero, are fueled by sun. The Avengers’ investigation in the Savage Lands leads them to A.I.M., the terrorist group that created M.O.D.O.K. and also found Hyperion drifting alone after two universes collided destroying everything he knew.

Hyperion is the issue’s catalyst, and he figures to become a critical part of the title’s three-year plan, according to Avengers’ scribe Jonathan Hickman. Hyperion discovers the secret impact site, locates  the members of A.I.M. as they pull samples, and becomes protector for the new lifeforms that emerge from the cocoons.

Overall, this issue is a bit stronger than the last. Showing the Avengers on cleanup duty proves they’re more than just a giant wrecking ball defending the planet.  The repercussions of Ex Nihilo’s actions may affect the Avengers for a while — see the last page of this issue — and if readers weren’t sure why the Avengers needed to become larger, issue #4 make a strong case for it.

Hickman’s plans for the team shows he’s laying down pieces from a larger picture, but his scripting this issue is confusing and daunting, making Avengers #4 a bit of a muddle. If Hickman is the Avengers’ gatekeeper, some readers may find themselves feeling a little left in the dark with an origin story for Hyperion that’s too vague and script work that edges on the pretentious. When Hyperion decides to go against his mentor’s teachings, the plot points don’t seem to connect perfectly — there’s an issue with what the mentor meant, Hyperion’s loss after holding two planets at bay, and the new species being born on Earth. As intelligent a writer as Hickman is, at times it’s hard to follow along with the story because there needs to be more of a bread-crumb trail on the page, something to bridge the gap between Hickman’s plots and the readership becoming introduced to new characters and situations.

On a visual level, Avengers #4 looks much different due to Adam Kubert taking over for Jerome Opena in the pencils department and Frank D’Armata who provides the colors. Readers were spoiled to have the Opena-led art team who drafted some of this year’s finest pages, and while Kubert’s art is serviceable, it doesn’t have the same luster as the previous creative team’s artwork. Kubert’s style is a little more sketchy, and faces, in comparison to each other, look too similar or falter in the ocular areas. D’Armata’s tones and shades resemble the colors of the previous issue, keeping the artwork between the two teams relative. D’Armata’s shadows over Kubert’s pencils add depth and dimension.

In the grand scheme of things, Avengers #4 may seem to be a key piece in the puzzle. For now, it’s a solid step in Hyperion’s legacy, and time will tell how high he rises. Readers have found that Hickman puts clues and references in each issue alluding to plot points found in other issues — the panel in Avengers #4 showing A.I.M. pulling Hyperion into this universe shows a key scene that also appears in Avengers #1. If it’s true that Hickman’s story covers 36 issues, readers are now moving past the tip of the iceberg.

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Avengers #4 (2013)
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Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Adam Kubert
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Letters: Cory Petit

Previous Issue: Avengers #3 Review
Next Issue: Avengers #5 Review

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