Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers 1 and 2 are mostly just build-up. Apart from the villains, there isn’t any character work so far. It’s exciting build up, but it feels a bit dry in some ways. This issue is also build up towards the New Avengers Illuminati series, but the core of this issue is its lead character, Black Panther. For the most part this issue is great, but it’s not flawless.
When the Illuminati first formed years ago, the panther recommended that everyone should walk away before they began. This issue takes place years later as he encounters an extra dimensional event in Wakanda that threatens the mere existence of Earth. It’s a strong motivator for changing his mind and joining a new Illuminati group. None of the other members are introduced in this issue, and that’s this issues only glaring flaw.
The story is somewhat cryptic, but not so much as to distract from the core of the issue. Hickman specializes in this kind of build-up, and you only have to read his Fantastic Four run to understand this. New Avengers 1 has the same feel that his Fantastic Four 1 had – a sense of character driven mystery and intrigue. This issue could have been explained a little better (same with Avengers 1), but part of the fun with Hickman’s writing is learning about the situation as it progresses.
The art is good too. The general colour scheme highlights the difference between the two dimensions featured in this issue. There is also a lot of environmental detail and some decent action effects. The fight scenes, while short, are easy to follow. The only thing that bothers me about the art is that on the last page (with the other illuminati members), half of the characters look like they’ve been copy/pasted with slight costume and facial hair modifications.
This comic won’t be for everyone. If you don’t like the Black Panther, it won’t change your mind. This series will likely be about a small group of very powerful men who are trying to secretly “guide” the world. It’s meant as a supplement to the main Avengers series, yet Hickman has stated that you could read either of these separately. If this series interests you, this is definitely worth checking out.