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New Avengers #1

by BradBabendir on January 04, 2013

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know very much about Black Panther. He’s always been a character that I thoroughly enjoyed when he was involved as a supplementary character, and I appreciated him. I’d made, in the past, remedial attempts to find quality trades with T’Challa as the lead, but didn’t dig up much information. So, that means that Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers has the rare opportunity to character-deflower me.

And Hickman does a fine, fine job.

This book has plenty of issues, and it might be reasonable enough argument to say that the issues outweigh the positives, but that’s not an argument I’m going to make. Because despite the poor pacing and problematic story, that wasn’t (and isn’t) what’s important about a #1 issue.

I’ve been reviewing a lot of books with a #1 one the cover recently, and it’s simply not possible to treat an opening issue in the same fashion as any subsequent issues. Essentially, a comic book is closely akin to dating. One the first dance, it’s important to get a feel for the characters, what makes them tick, how they operate and why they do it in that fashion. It can’t possibly paint the whole picture, but it should expose most of the important parts. And that’s why this is a good book.

Because getting readers to understand Black Panther was more important than anything else in the issue, and Hickman does that with flying colors. He does a beautiful job of showing T’Challa’s positive qualities; Not what makes him a superhero, but why he’s special and why he matters.

Hickman aggressively presents Black Panther as someone who is self-aware to a fault, a character that is so conscious of what he and the greatest thinkers in the Marvel Universe have the power to do that it defines him, and most importantly, scares him. He’s the voice of reason in a room of supposedly reasonable voices.

And as far as Marvel NOW! is concerned, he’s the most interesting character. Hickman has done a masterful, gorgeous, elegant job of establishing something so dense and well reported that it’s almost mind-blowing he did it in one issue.

The art by Rick Magyar, Steve Epting and Frank D’Armata is good. It’s not great, at times it can be off-putting, but it’s consistent and focused, and it does what art needs to do in the hands of such a talented writer, which is not get in the way. I’d expect such a talented creative team to to ge a better grip and really push through in later issues, but it’s a #1, and the art is, if nothing else, good enough.

Hickman is the right writer to tackle Avengers/New Avengers. These books should be phenomenal, and though Uncanny Avengers is the purported flagship book, Hickman’s Avenger’s duo could easily earn its spot as the definitive work in the reinvigorated Marvel landscape.  

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