Following the previous issue’s confrontation with a rogue planet, “Avengers” #25, written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Salvador Larroca is more of a S.H.I.E.L.D. procedural with a surprise twist from Avengers’ history than a full-fledged Avengers adventure. Hickman does spend some time and energy investigating A.I.M. Island and even uses that setting to craft the twist of this issue.
Hickman’s continued investigation of the machinations of A.I.M. provides no shortage of brewing conflict and potential problems for Earth’s Mightiest, but it also provides a peek into the inner workings and hierarchy of A.I.M., their affairs and their experiments. All of that is interrupted by the arrival of the Avengers, just not in an expected manner. With the development of the incursions that Hickman has been constructing in “New Avengers,” it was only a matter of time until the secrecy the Illuminati were hiding came to light and began to affect other characters and titles. “Avengers” #25 combines the threat of the incursions with the aftermath of the rogue planet, and promises more intriguing developments to come. The results of the Avengers’ visit to A.I.M. Island aren’t completely resolved here and easily serve as the most interesting development in this issue, despite the cliffhanger page with which Hickman ends this issue.
Salvador Larroca jumps onboard for the art chores in an issue where the first Avenger he draws just so happens to be dead. Fortunately for the artist, Hickman makes it up to him, giving him a chance to draw through the Avengers history a little bit before the final page of the issue. Larroca is less slavishly devoted to the photo-referenced style he used on “Invincible Iron Man,” which comes with both good and bad aspects. Aside from some wobbly anatomy, forced cheekiness and the occasional unnecessary character popping out of a panel and distracting the story’s flow, Larroca’ characters are all distinct and identifiable, including the Scientist Supreme of A.I.M. Unfortunately, the lower level A.I.M. costumes look simply goofy, like a variation of a badly-painted Earthworm Jim costume that come across as overly floppy and makes the original beekeeper design seem inspired by comparison. The biggest bang for the issue, however, comes in the splash pages, which are vital and iconic, paying dividends to the story.
The twist is fine, but the story around it needs a little more fire. I wasn’t too keen about the inclusion of time-tossed Avengers as billed on the cover, in what might soon be the new house-style of bringing past heroes to their own present, but Hickman gives enough credence to the story to summon me back for more, especially after the writer assures his readership that things are starting to come together between his Avengers books. This issue is a calm before the storm sort of issue, promising action, adventure and mystery in issues of “Avengers” to come.