Avengers 24.NOW "Rogue Planet"
Writers: Jonathan Hickman
Art: Esad Ribic, Salvador Larocca, Mike Deodato, Butch Guice,
Dean White, Frank Martin, Paul Mounts and Laura Martin
Prelude to this issue:
The Avengers have been through a two front war on Earth and throughout the cosmos during Hickman's recent epic crossover event "Infinity". The massive tale had it's seeds planted in the first issue of Hickman's current run and the story arc has only recently come to a close. The Avengers swelled their team ranks in order to meet such a threat at the start of the series. The heroes suffered several defeats prior to being able to lead a desperate and fragile alliance of intergalactic races (that included former foes such as The Skrulls and Annihilus) to victory. The arc ends with The Avengers victorious against both an ancient race of conquerors and Thanos' forces that had invaded earth .
Avengers 24.Now could be viewed as a stand alone story, but you can tell that this is the tip of another iceburg and Hickman plans another marathon arc. This one shot is full of hints that the worst has yet to come. This issue also ties heavily into plot points from New Avengers, which Hickman also writes.
In this issue, we have an "Iron Man" from the year 3030 that races back in time to the present to warn the Avengers of oncoming destruction. Apparently, the memo got lost about time travel issues in the current Marvel U. The issue has a few lighthearted moments with the team enjoying some much deserved rest and relaxation, There are friendly games and a barbecue with Thor. But it isn't fun and games for Captain America and Tony Stark who discuss which members of this team of Avengers they should keep and which ones should be let go. No big spoiler, but Wolverine and Spider-Man are both off the roster with other members still being up for debate. This is when the future Iron Man arrives, convinces the team of the oncoming threat of a planet that is hurtling on a collision course towards Earth, and the heroes develop a plan to stop it. But sadly, at no time do you actually feel from the characters that they are actually in real danger. The concern that does carry weight with the team is who launched the planet in the first place.
The story is well thought out, concise and delivers what you would expect. Unfortunately, what I have also come to expect is very little in character development from the team members. The recent plots and team size have both been so large during Hickman's run that I feel that we lose character growth, development and personal stories of the teams members that would enrich the team as a whole. Sure, if you like Hawkeye, you can go read his solo title. But in this Avenger title it feels like you're holding a deck of gaming cards with stats and powers and not characters with personality.
But don't let that critique turn you off from this over-sized, stand alone story. It's funny, exciting, intriguing and once again building towards a larger plot. But, I do hope that the stories become more personal for the team members and not just another, "The world is going to end! Call everyone we know with powers!" Hickman has been able to deliver the epic tale, deliver new characters and members with interesting origins and bring the cosmic universe to the rest of the Marvel U. But can he make these large epics more personal? Time will tell.
Rating: Borrow it