“Avengers” #4 by Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert is an issue that mostly stands alone, though much of its information comes from the previous three issue arc. The team deals with the fallout of certain alien elements falling to earth in the last story, while also delivering an origin for Hickman’s new Hyperion has created. The result is an oddly unbalanced issue that does a little of both things without much development for either.
Hyperion was originally created, decades ago, as a Superman copy. Over the years, there have been multiple Hyperions from multiple universes, and as such there is a lot to be done with the character just by wiping the slate clean and giving readers a new one. There are elements of Superman here, as well as the Plutonian from Mark Waid’s “Irredeemable” simmering beneath the surface. Ultimately, this Hyperion has his own ticks and quirks but they aren’t majorly interesting. He’s an all-powerful being with internal problems. He’s also possibly a powder keg for the team. None of these elements scream out as something new and exciting, but there is plenty more room for Hickman to innovate — so the character should not be written off just yet. However, what’s presented in this issue is a little too philosophical and lacks an interesting core to make readers care upon first contact.
The other side of this issue is the Avengers battling an A.I.M. team over the discovery and appropriation of some alien material in the Savage Lands. This sequence is fun and has some cool action. It is weird seeing the Avengers, in effect, trash the dead body of a victim but the circumstances do call for it. It’s just strange to see heroes doing this and accept it without further thought. They don’t act to save the poor fool A.I.M. used and abused they simply neutralize the threat.
Adam Kubert is a fantastic artist and he knows how to do high superhero work. It’s a shame he has to follow Jerome Opena, who sets a high bar for the book of both quality and tone. Kubert doesn’t fall short so much as he lands elsewhere. If Kubert had been the starting artist this book, there is no doubt I’d love his work but I only like it for this issue due to the context of what came before. I guess appraising comic art is funny in that manner because sometimes it isn’t just about what’s on the page. Kubert does rely on vertical panels too often which play sometimes, like when Thor is descending with thunder, but other times it obscures the wider landscape and forces the character to need to bunch.
“Avengers” #4 has some good ideas but the focus is split. Hickman manages to deliver nice round plots for each side of the book but they don’t add up to a whole on their own. They each either needed more for a full issue’s focus, or the Hyperion sequence needed more hook into the main narrative. There is some connective tissue but not quite enough. A tidy A.I.M. fight and a final reveal of something else to come is good but not grand.