“Avengers” #7 returns to cosmic-level Avengers action thanks to some massive world-building and slight of hand from Jonathan Hickman with artistic collaboration from Dustin Weaver, Justin Ponsor on colors and Cory Petit providing letters. As was gleaned last issue, the progeny of the Garden has been revealed to be Nightmask, not Blackveil, thanks to translatory assistance from Captain Universe.
For longtime Marvel readers, Nightmask almost certainly guarantees the emergence of other New Universe characters and Weaver’s cover for this issue confirms as much. Being old enough to remember (and, sorry, rather unimpressed with) the original launch of Marvel’s New Universe from 1986, I can safely declare that this time around the concept is significantly more interesting. That is in no small part due to Hickman’s brilliant story construction. The writer throws in some clues and feints through the first eighteen pages of this issue, but strips it all away, essentially sitting down with the reader and showing them how it all comes together. That reveal, coupled with the delicate care and raging uncertainty Hickman uses to construct those first eighteen pages (and the six issues prior to it) marvelously displays why Hickman deserves and receives so much credit as a strategist and world-builder.
Not only does the writer construct long-range adventures and populate those tales with fantastic scenarios, but he also delivers believable characters that find challenge in those scenarios. Within those challenges they rise up and become heroes to revel in. Thanks to Hickman, Marvel NOW! is on the cusp of a brave new world and fantastic adventure. In addition to introducing Nightmask, delivering the White Event and challenging the Avengers, Hickman also elaborates on the destruction the White Event causes, but not before he can introduce readers to a character dubbed Caretaker, who is instantly intriguing.
For Weaver’s part, the story is broad and winding, with action occurring on a college campus, in the Avengers jet and tower, in the ethereal Dreamspace and aboard the structures referred to as Superflows. Some of Weaver’s characters could use a bit more to distinguish or define them visually, but given the sheer amount of detail he pours into this book, the artist delivers a most satisfactory visual collection. Ponsor’s colors are right there to bolster Weaver’s efforts, from the starfield on Captain Universe’s uniform to the neon pink tinged electricity of the White Event. The harsh reds and conflicting blues of the Superflow scenes are appropriately visually jarring, almost to the point where the page turn into the 616 Universe elicits a sigh of relief as the colors normalize a bit, right when the story begins to ratchet up once more.
Although this is (at least partially) a result from the first story featuring the Garden, it stands quite nicely on its own and vividly exposes the Marvel Universe and its unfurling possibilities. The New Universe — in part or in whole — crashes into the Marvel Universe in this issue. Undoubtedly this will impact the story Hickman tells in “New Avengers,” but taken for what it is, “Avengers” #7 is stunning, electrifying and enjoyable. With a charge into action and a great deal of discussion to finish this issue as we near an inevitable conflagration, this is Avengers comics for a whole new generation and I’m glad to be onboard with it.