One of the best additions to “Avengers” under Jonathan Hickman’s watch was the new Smasher, aka Izzy Kane. But between “Infinity” and the generally large cast in the title, she (like so many other characters) often got swept into the background. “Avengers World” #2 has Hickman, Nick Spencer and Stefano Caselli shine another spotlight on the character as she tours the all-new Barbuda (aka A.I.M. Island), and the end result is entertaining from start to finish.
Part of what makes “Avengers World” #2 work so well is how generally likable the character of Smasher is. She’s a little headstrong, but at the same time isn’t someone who misses the coolness of things around her. What’s nice here is how Hickman and Spencer are building on what we already knew about her and how her grandfather was a World War II era superhero. Her experiences with sickness and death tie in well with what A.I.M. is claiming in regard to the changes in Barbuda, and it gives her much more of a link to this story than just a random character who was due for a spotlight.
One of the great aspects of Hickman’s “Avengers” run is instilling a sense of wonder into some of the more world-bending moments. I feel like he and Spencer achieve that quite well in “Avengers World” #2 with the transformation of Barbuda. This isn’t just an island that’s expanded in size; it’s an alien landscape that’s growing and morphing from moment to moment. Together with Caselli, they have created a dream that’s come to life, and it’s that strange sort of dreamlike logic as Smasher moves through its landscape that makes this issue stand out.
Caselli’s work with Hickman on “Secret Warriors” back in the day was excellent, and it’s nice to see it continue here, too. I love how well he draws people — that sounds strange, but Caselli is a superhero artist who understands that you should be able to identify characters out of costume as well as in them. In the S.H.I.E.L.D. briefing, for examine, Bruce Banner’s face is lean and long and angular. It’s very different from Steve Rogers’, which is much thicker and fuller. Just looking at him from the neck up, you can tell this is a man who’s just packed full of solid muscle through-and-through. And then there’s Maria Hill, whose rounded, petit face is still very different than the others. Every character has their own unique look here, and it’s great to see such attention to detail. At the same time, Caselli doesn’t miss the big wow moments either. The alien technology that’s growing and expanding throughout Barbuda feels like a wonderful mix of science and biology, and he does a good job of bringing to the page its larger-than-life scale.
“Avengers World” #2 is fun and inventive, and it’s got a proverbial spring in its step as it moves forward. I was a little wary about yet another Avengers title debuting, but Hickman, Spencer and Caselli are making it so enjoyable that I just can’t complain. This is a nice addition to the Avengers family.