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Avengers #2 (Marvel): The trio of Ex Nihilo, Abyss, and Aleph talking creation myth and the end of the world is the type of high stakes threat that’s worthy of the Avengers assembling on the magnitude they are. Tony and Steve are assembling the team, the movie team and an eclectic “then some,” that includes some very interesting picks like Cannonball and Sunspot that should really mix the dynamic up. So far, there isn’t much room for character moments beyond Tony and Steve’s repartee, but Hickman is oomphing up the bad guy set in a way that feels like what Remender did over in Uncanny X-Force. Creation and apocalypse, alpha and omega, life and death, through it all Jerome Opena and Dean White represent a new generation of artist that makes the genre shine, using different tonal palettes for the organic, the tech, and the mythic. Avengers feels like a worthy flagship for the new Marvel line, with a gravitas and sheen I found surprisingly lacking in Uncanny Avengers, despite the creator pedigree. This is really building toward being “the” core title in The House of Ideas Universe. Grade A.
Thor: God of Thunder #3 (Marvel): I think Thor might be technically as well executed as Avengers, but I just like those characters better personally. The best part of Thor is that you essentially get three books in one. You get old-school Conan-Thor, you get present day God-Superhero-Thor, and you get a future Thor that is in the best traditions of the Marvel Universe, a sort of Days-Of-Future-Past-Thor. Jason Aaron is leveling up in a big game, beyond the Gods of Asgard, with “The Parliament of Pantheons” and “The Nexus of All The Gods.” Thor is still tracking the elusive God Butcher, finding crucified Gods lost for centuries along the way, in literally every realm of expansive existence. Esad Ribic nails it all, with a washed out aesthetic slightly ethereal enough to sell the supernatural and otherworldly elements. If the Ribic-Opena look is the new house style at Marvel, they’re really killing DC right now on a purely visual level alone. My only quibble is that the text can get very dense at times and can sometimes be a chore to wade through, even with Aaron’s great ear for it. Still, it bears repeating, Thor is one of my least favorite characters, one I find the least engaging on the surface, yet Aaron and Ribic have reeled me in for multiple issues now. Grade A-.
Batwoman #15 (DC): Seeing the JH3 art on the very first page really made me appreciate how great he is. The way that Kate’s costume fits her body and wraps around her seems to emphasize that it’s not painted on in the way so many superhero artists depict, it’s actually clothing on top of a realistic feminine body. That said, the jump to Trevor McCarthy on the next page is really jarring. McCarthy is a fine enough artist, somewhat reminiscent of Cully Hamner’s blocky line, but *any* artist following JH Williams III is just going to look lesser by comparison. It’s a tough act to follow. This issue is an interesting diversion, as the GCPD deals with Medusa Soldiers on the streets of Gotham, the entire issue is from the POV of Detective Maggie Sawyer, who has all kinds of interesting relationships with everyone from Kate Kane to DEO Agent Cameron Chase. Grade A-.