It's been about a year since I read comic books on the regular. During that time, Marvel was my thing. I started to get into DC Comics after the New 52 began but for years, I followed Marvel religiously with X-Men and Spider-Man being my main focus. It really wasn't until the first New Avengers series hit the stands did I begin to follow the Avengers but when I started getting into it, I really enjoyed it. So to hear that a new Avengers series was coming out, Avengers World, made me really excited, enough so to pick up the first issue. To see Jonathan Hickman's name attached to it (where he shares writing credit with Nick Spencer), the guy that has been touted as one of Marvel's architects, was definitely a good sign as well.
After reading the issue, however, I was a little disappointed. Not disappointed that it was bad but disappointed that I'd read it already.
The issue focuses on Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D. director Maria Hill. They stand on the bridge of a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier as Hill briefs Cap about a few goings on in the world. It seems that a few rather serious events are happening concurrently across the globe and different teams of Avengers have been dispatched to investigate. Thor, Captain Marvel and Hyperion are looking into a rash of unnatural natural events on the eastern seaboard. Wolverine, Black Widow, Falcon, and Shang-Chi are in the middle of national riots in Madripoor. Hawkeye, Spider-Woman, Nightmask, and Starbrand are in Italy investigating a strange artifact. Smasher, Sunspot, and Cannonball are sent to A.I.M. Island. At first glance, all of these events seem to be unrelated, but if that were the case this would be a very uninteresting comic.
My problem with this issue is that it brings to mind Ultimate Comics Ultimates #1, written by Hickman back in 2011. The events portrayed in that issue were much different than here, but the delivery is the same: Nick Fury on the bridge looking down at different world events as separate teams of heroes look toward a resolution. Both issues start and end the same as well, with the threat of a great, all powerful evil looming in the distance, ready to strike.
Again, that doesn't make Avengers World bad. It just feels like recycled material.
I do have an issue with the characters in the book. The Avengers have always had a revolving door of members, with a few heroes making short appearances to never be seen again. But some of the heroes that the new team features, like Starbrand, Nightmask, and Smasher, are completely unknown to me. Like I said, it's been a while since I was reading the Avengers religiously so I don't know if these characters came up to prominence recently, but they seem like odd choices to add to a battle-hardened team like the Avengers. Even the inclusion of ex-New Mutants Sunspot and Cannonball had me scratching my head. I mean, I can accept it but these aren't the faces I'd expect to see.
One aspect that makes the issue shine is the art. Stefano Caselli's pencils are simply amazing. He illustrates his characters so that their movements come off as natural, not stunted and confused like a lot of other artists. But more than that, he has a great eye for panel composition, varying his structure from page to page. The movement makes the book come off more like a movie that a comic book, which is what makes it so exciting. And colorist Frank Martin adds tremendous depth to the pencils, using perfect shading and highlights throughout. The pairing is brilliant and really creates the strength of the title.
Even though it would seem like I was trashing the first issue, I wasn't. I was disappointed, without a doubt, but it was still a really fun read. Despite the narrative being a rehash of Hickman's past, the story itself was original. However, if it turns out that the big baddie out to take over the world is a one-time ally of the Avengers twisted by his own power and intelligence like it was in Ultimate Comics Ultimates, then I may have to officially give up on the man. But let's hope it doesn't come to that.