Avengers #32

Writer Jonathan Hickman has been chronicling some pretty far-flung Avengers stories for awhile now, and in "Avengers" #32 he flings the team further than they've even been flung. The consequences of Marvel's current "Original Sin" event converge with those of Hickman's own ongoing Incursion storyline, as time gem continues to carry specific members of the team further into the future; over five millennia into the future this issue, in fact. Artist Leinil Francis Yu in turn chronicles a surprisingly and seemingly idyllic world, at least at first, before giving way to a far more cosmic scope that gives a new and literal meaning to the term Avengers World.

While the events of the issue are a direct spinoff from "Original Sin," it's not all that relevant to that series, but Hickman works it in nicely while proceeding with his own storyline. Integrating an outside event into a lengthy and established story is never an easy task for a writer to pull off, but Hickman does it about as well as most writers faced with this challenge, and does so relatively seamlessly. Better yet, Hickman actually makes some, albeit slight, progress in his long-running epic, showing the long-range consequences of The Avengers' actions from thousands of years ago. He also provides at least the start of a welcome explanation regarding just what is causing all of these planetary incursions that have taken place countless times in the "Avengers" titles.

The answers are mere crumbs, though, amongst all of the vague, philosophical, and high-concept discussions between Captain America and a future Franklin Richards, who apparently is now immortal, but no explanation is forthcoming regarding this development by Hickman, at least yet. There's plenty of the usual kind of higher-level topics that are familiar to fans of Hickman's work, but the issue begins to evoke some degree of aggravation amongst the fascination, as more questions and mysteries are added with no sign of resolution before the characters are transported to an even more-distant future era.

It's the same kind of tactic that inadvertently tries the patience of even the most devoted fans, as die-hard viewers of television's "Lost" or faithful readers of Chris Claremont's "Uncanny X-Men" in the eighties have experienced. "Avengers" readers would welcome some more definitive answers, but these explanations are absolutely essential, and absent, for those who came by solely because of the "Original Sin" connection and will likely find themselves lost indeed.

Hickman at least keeps the heavy-handedness somewhat balanced with the occasional lighthearted moment. Starbrand comically acknowledges the complexity of the storyline when he asks, "In earlier futures . . . 'earlier futures' . . . who talks like this?" The hungry Starbrand's curiosity about what is and what is not edible in this future's surrounding forest is amusing, and the final scene with Franklin and a completely unexpected character is priceless.

"Avengers" #32 is typical Hickman, which ambiguously will mean different things to different readers. In absolute terms, though, it's enjoyable enough, as Hickman throws in so many fascinating ideas that the issue is hard not to like, at least somewhat, despite the apparent aimlessness of the story. Yu makes both an alien forest and futuristic spacecraft look amazing, and combined the two creators generate enough of a wow-factor to offset the wha-factor.

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