Avengers #35

Despite having thirty pages of fresh story, "Avengers" #35 does little more than tease out future events and leave readers wondering just what, exactly, it is that Jonathan Hickman has pulled together under the cover banner of, "In 8 Months. . .Time Runs Out!" Many of the characters are familiar additions from Hickman's run, just thrust into new developments or advanced versions of their (until-recently) current developments.

Thor is the only original Avenger with any significant panel time in "Avengers" #35, but much of that is spent in conversation with Hyperion. The Thor shown here wields Jarnbjorn, not Mjolnir, and falls in line with the images shown in promotional material for Jason Aaron's developments with that character. Hickman spreads the wealth in this comic book, but his additions of Abyss, Ex Nihilo, Nightmask, Starbrand, Hyperion, Manifold, Sunspot and Cannonball have larger roles and carry longer segments of this story. The big picture, which Hickman has been constructing since his first scripts for "Avengers" and "New Avengers" appear to be congealing, with Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., A.I.M., and the Illuminati all playing significant roles in this opening chapter for the not-so-far-flung future.

Hickman's favorites aside, "Avengers" #35 adds credibility to Hyperion's recent developments (in "Avengers" #34.1) and also provides a very human, very relatable scene between Sunspot and Cannonball. Nick Bradshaw draws the pages starring Roberto DaCosta and Sam Guthrie, proving in a simple eight-page sequence that he is meant to draw Cannonball forever and always. Dustin Weaver continues to define Abyss, Ex Nihilo and the Ex Nihili. The color work on the sequences those characters appear in is stellar (no pun intended). The issue holds together nicely, making it impossible for readers to distinguish the color work from Frank Martin or David Curiel without finding a cheat sheet. The duo are afforded some room to manipulate character costumes as Starbrand has shifted from maroon to navy and Captain Marvel's costume also showcases an absence of red. Letterer Cory Petit is in top form throughout this issue, but gets a real test as the issue concludes. Jim Cheung finishes "Avengers" #35 with a surprise confrontation that has even more surprising ties to the Illuminati. As expected, his work is on-model and topnotch, with more than enough of a tease here to coax readers into wishing Cheung drew everything, all the time.

Since time was broken during and/or slightly before "Age of Ultron," I've wondered just how much of this future will ring true. Presumably, the eight month span bypasses the "AXIS" event altogether, settling in after the conclusion o that story and whatever changes it produces. As of "Avengers" #35, Hickman has taken his cast and his fellow creators on a long jump into the unknown, giving readers a whole new world to discover with the Avengers, but is it an Avengers world? Like all futures in Marvel's publishing history, this one is fraught with wonder, excitement, mystery and complications. The Avengers have definitely affected the world, but Hickman keeps all of the sordid details close to his vest for now, preferring to eke plot points and nuances out to the readers, treating each morsel as new discovery along the way. It's a fun enough premise, but it needs to gain some traction quickly in order to keep readers tuned in. Unless editor Tom Brevoort is going to regularly summon Cheung to satiate the readership.

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