Avengers #35 Review

Writen by: Johnathan Hickman

Art by: Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Nick Bradshaw, Dustin Weaver

Publisher: Marvel

Not one to be left out of September’s time jumping shenanigans, Johnathan Hickman’s Avengers books are jumping 8 months into the future in preparation of the grand finale of the series’ gradually coalescing storylines; “Time Runs Out”. Knowing how Hickman operates, often planning stories years in advance, I’m willing to put cynicism aside and believe this is a pre-planned element of his Avengers saga rather than a simple marketing stunt to cash in on DC’s “Futures End” tie ins. Regardless of how the idea came about, how well is it executed? Well to put it bluntly, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

As stated, one of Hickman’s talents is his ability to have stories planned well in advance with the payoff then usually being brilliant and allowing all the seemingly disjointed elements of the series to click into place. While this works great when reading his stories in a collected format, reading issue to issue often feels like a disjointed experience and is a problem that has plagued most of his run on the title. That problem is on full display in this issue; while it feels like we’re moving towards a grand finale, with elements such as the war on the illuminati finally coming into play after much teasing, there are several plot threads Hickman seems to be juggling which bog down the issue.

What further weakens the impact of these stories is how little the characters have actually featured in the series so far. Most of the marketing focused on the “Avengers Now” characters such as Thor the Unworthy, Superior Iron Man and Captain Falcon (I just got that joke) and I was hoping they would be the main focus of this issue; out of the three though, Thor gets the most page time with a total of two words while Captain Falcon (I’m never going to get tired of that now) doesn’t feature at all. Instead the issue focuses mostly on how the lives of lower tier Avengers such as Hyperion, Cannonball, Starbrand and Nightmask have been affected during the eight month time leap. While I would normally enjoy an issue that spotlights lesser seen characters, here it just makes the impact of how they’ve changed fall flat as we haven’t seen much of them to begin with. For example, there’s a reveal that two Avengers have gotten married, however all I can recall of their interaction was about three pages together around 15 to 20 issues ago, so it feels rather unnatural and as if it were included only to showcase time has passed. It feels padded out and as if it’s only there to justify the higher price tag.

While I may have seemed pretty negative so far, there’s still quite a few things about the comic I enjoyed and that leave me excited for how the time skip storyline will play out from here. The entire latter half of the issue involving the fate of S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers is exactly the sort of stuff I wanted from this story, some real “wait, what!?” moments that were completely unexpected and showcased some big changes for the team, as well as some really exciting action. There’s a slightly grim tone towards the end of the book, nothing too extreme but one that strengthens the idea that this chapter of Avengers history is coming to an end and that the great machine that has been built is collapsing. The ending cliff-hanger was also pretty great and unexpected, providing the issue with a strong ending that left me feeling excited for the upcoming issues of both “Avengers” and “New Avengers”.

The art manages to be very strong despite my initial worries of having multiple artists on the one issue. The four artists each do really well individually, particularly Jim Cheung in the second half of the book, and their styles are similar enough that they mesh well together and don’t feel all that jarring. Furthermore, each artists tackles a different plot thread which makes each transition work well and ensures that the hand-off between the different artists works well.

Overall, it definitely feels like Hickman is building towards some big conclusion with his Avengers books, it’s just taking a long time to get there. If you’ve been following the series thus far, you may as well stick around to see how it all turns out as Hickman’s projects can usually only be judged once we have the whole thing in front of us. If you’re a new reader however excited about “Avengers Now” or looking to get in on the ground floor of Marvel’s next big event then this probably isn’t the book for you.