Last issue ended with Captain America giving the order to “Assemble at dawn,” with some new recruits joining longtime Avengers to confront a cosmic threat so huge that even their might still may not be enough to defeat it. Writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Jerome Opeña make an impressive debut of a series here, as well as a memorable new villain in that of Ex Nihilo, who is, apparently, capable of taking out Thor, Iron Man, and Hulk, as well as Hawkeye and Black Widow. While a team of Avengers, old and new, answer Cap’s call, we also learn a bit more about Ex Nihilo, as well as his sister, Abyss, and the automaton, Aleph, who is probably the one to fear most of the trio, considering what he can do and the cold logic he displays about doing it.

As with most megalomaniacal villains of Ex Nihilo’s ilk, he is overconfident and arrogant, going so far as underestimating Captain America and sending him back to Earth as a warning. Little does he suspect, Cap has assembled a team of powerful heroes to confront him and rescue their friends, as well as countless planets. Speaking of which, the choice of Avengers Hickman has picked here are interesting. While there are heroes who are already members of the team in some form or another, there are also some unexpected choices, which I won’t spoil here. While Ex Nihilo and co. have interesting origins, I can’t help but get a sense of a “been there, done that” with some of their background stories… particularly Ex Nihilo, himself. While this is no less compelling, I was hoping there was a bit more to them than I thought. This is only a minor complaint, though, as this comic was so much fun to read. One thing I really enjoyed was Ex Nihilo’s assessment of Thor as being “mythic” and unlike any of the others. I thought that was a nice touch, which gives the reader a sense of Ex Nihilo’s true threat as a villain. If he can defeat and bind Thor, as well as Hulk, what chance do the others have? It should be interesting to see how they get out of this one.

Artist Jerome Opeña is a wonder to behold, perfectly capturing the cosmic scale of the story and the mythical aspects of the coming together of this new and bigger Avengers team. The colorists, Dean White, Justin Ponsor, and Morry Hollowell, also contribute greatly to the look and feel of this book, accentuating Opeña’s detailed pencils with an almost glowing god-like energy that I found very appealing. Despite the minor faults I’ve already mentioned, it’s hard to not love this book. While some of Hickman’s writing might seem a bit derivative in places, he was actually a perfect choice for this title, as he does the whole “mythic” thing well. So *what* if Ex Nihilo is your run-of-the-mill cosmic jerk with a weird fashion sense. He’s still very much a classic Marvel character in the same vein as Jack Kirby’s Galactus, This is charming all on its own and very fitting for The Avengers. It’s clear Hickman does have a plan here, with characters beginning to show what roles they’ll be taking and how the team will be operating from here on out. It’s ambitious enough to seem fresh, while retaining everything uniquely Marvel. I’m really looking forward to seeing it all unfold. 8.5/10

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