By Jonathan Hickman, Salvador Larroca & Frank Martin
Like an emerging planet on a collision course with Earth 616, the two flagship Avengers books written by Jonathan Hickman begin orbiting each other in Avengers #28. The majority of the issue contains a wonderfully played out interrogation that gives the reader a rare Hickman recap. There are some secrets that are exposed as well as a subtle reminder to long time Avengers readers of the potential dangers that these two teams protect against and sometimes cause.
This is a clean up issue, a clean up for both Avengers and New Avengers. Bruce Banner wants some answers from Tony Stark. The majority of the issue is Banner putting Stark in the hot seat, getting Stark to reveal the real purpose of having two Avenger teams. Banner’s character channels questions that readers who have been with both Avengers titles might have had since the beginning. Through dialogue between the two, readers are given an intense recap of the happenings in both books. There is a neat quick explanation of the fate of the Other Dimension Avengers from the last story arc and an interesting development comes to light through the interrogation. The question and answer session acts as a reminder of the missions and the necessity of both Avenger teams. Hickman beautifully captures Banner’s mistrust of Stark without slowing the pace of the book with over-explanation of their sordid recent history. Banner is a relentless cross examiner especially considering his green rage of a boiling point. The issue ends with a look toward the future of the Avengers titles, there is a resolution containing a foundation for future story arcs in both books.
The facial expressions, the transitions from light to dark pencils as the story progresses helps pull in the reader. Salvador Larroca’s panel layouts exemplify the intensity of the situation. Close ups and pull aways push the pace of the question and answer. This close up and zoom out camera-like technique builds and releases the tensions of the scenes, worthy of most televised dramas. Larroca places hints of Banner’s rage as the dialogue grows more intense, a nice touch without being overt. The use of one panel to illustrate Banner’s and Stark’s exposition adds to the flow of the book. There are some nice touches to flashback panels as well. Larroca’s art is a big part of what makes this issue work beyond two characters talking, there is motion and emotion captured in the panels.
There is simplicity in this issue that has not been found in recent issues of Avengers. This is an issue that provides answers to questions a casual reader could have. The issue also serves as a starting point for upcoming issues of both Avenger titles and the upcoming Original Sin event. Larroca’s art and Hickman’s dialogue make this an intense and unique transition issue.