Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Leinil Yu
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: June 18, 2014
…Issue #31…the one where Avengers got really mysterious.
Like the Time Gem shattering and throwing the Avengers through time and space, Jonathan Hickman has nearly fractured my brain with issue #31 of Avengers. I can go either way with time travel stories, but I can firmly say Hickman is doing this one right, keeping things grounded enough to be interesting, and confusing enough to keep readers on their toes. Issue #31 takes the Avengers further into the future than there first stop, with each progression in time making their circumstances a little worse. Hickman is pacing this brilliantly, and his dialogue is razor sharp in this issue. Every single speech balloon is filled with riddles and information that will rock your mind, pulling aspects of Age of Ultron and other huge events into this Original Sin tie-in. Hickman’s references to other material will not derail the issue if you haven’t read the other stories mentioned, but they will certainly enrich issue #31 and get your mind racing with questions as the issue progresses.
This issue feels like an episode of 24: the Avengers are racing against the clock, not on their turf and frantically trying to make sense of what the hell is going on. Hickman does a great job of passing that feeling onto the reader, as the chaos the heroes are facing cannot be avoided by anyone reading this book. The energy and pacing will suck you in and the confusion brought forth by the new information with each pit stop in the future just makes this storyline that much stronger. In a similar vein to Original Sin being a murder mystery on a massive scale, Hickman is slowly weaving in a mystery of his own in Avengers and everything he does in this issue just clicks. This issue is building toward something huge and Avengers fans can’t help but get excited while reading this comic. Hickman’s mastery of the long game is evident in this issue and the tension he is creating in these pages is masterful.
Matching Jonathan Hickman’s strong storytelling is some rock solid artwork from Leinil Yu. He handles the chaos and bizarre locales of this issue very well, and gives the issue the frantic pace to tell the story properly. His detail is exceptional, and his character work is very strong. Other than Black Widow’s costume (why…just, why?) he handles these characters very well, delivering some huge splash pages for readers to feast their eyes on and drool appropriately. His style suits the gravity of this situation and it is obvious that he and Hickman work well together. The inking by Gerry Alanguilan is strong, enhancing Yu’s work and giving it a very sharp look. Inking has made or broken Yu’s pages in the recent past and Alanguilan does a great job with Yu’s pencils in this issue.
Avengers #31 is an extremely strong chapter in what is building to be a fantastic arc. Hickman and Yu are crafting one of the best time travel stories I’ve read in a very long time and all Avengers fans need to be along for this ride. How it all affects Original Sin is yet to be known, but regardless of it’s ties to the main event this is a strong issue in a long line of quality work from Hickman.
The Verdict: 9.0/10