Time continues to run out as Avengers drives forward with the Hyperion/Thor/Sunspot storyline seeded in issue #35, with a quick check-in on Smasher & Cannonball as well.
I’ll admit right off the bat that of the different storylines that occurred in issue #35, these two were the least intriguing to me, so this issue may have been doomed to mediocrity from the beginning from my perspective. Hickman spends a lot of time bringing the Sunspot storyline together with that of Hyperion, Thor Odinson, Starbrand, Nightmask and Ex Nihilo and his crew. These are some heavyweight characters and their very presence does bring a ton of weight to this issue. Whenever these titans are on the page I will admit my interest level went up, my curiosity as to what was going to get smashed getting the better of me. That curiosity was never sated, though, as this issue is crafted to set up future adventures and drive home the fact that Hickman is sending some powerhouses on a perceived suicide mission to realms unknown to face forces unknown. There is a whole lot of unknown in this issue, and the dialogue surrounding multiverses was solid, yet utterly dull. With a huge amount of the drama of this issue being what has happened in the past 8 months to get things to this point, the build up of tension surrounding this mission fell flat for me. Readers simply have to take the fact that this mission is dangerous on face value, with the build up of tension toward this point occurring in the gap time that has yet to be filled in. I have little doubt this will be an interesting storyline going forward, but this issue felt like a whole lot of preamble for very little payoff, and the issue suffered because of it.
I will admit that my thoughts on the Smasher-Cannonball dynamic have been changed completely by this issue, though. The two bring a lightness to the comic and their young family is heartwarming. Hickman infuses the characters with a ton of happiness, they are definitely some light amongst the confusion of Time Runs Out.
Despite a primary storyline that didn’t have a lot of payoff for readers in this issue, Stefano Caselli makes this issue worth every penny. Caselli absolutely kills it in this comic and he is rapidly becoming one of my favourite artists in the Big Two. He handles the emotional beats of the story well, and pencils the titans well. Hyperion and Thor emanate power while moments between Izzy and Sam are touching. Caselli really can do it all and it feels right to have him working on the “big” Avengers book as this event gets some steam. To say his work is top flight is almost an understatement, and I would happily have Stefano Caselli working on 28 more books right now. He’s that damn good.
Avengers #36, despite some excellent artwork, slows the momentum of Time Runs Out and issue #35. Some of the big reveals of last issue are completely ignored and to focus on this primary storyline right out of the gate vexes me slightly. In Hickman I still trust, but I will admit this issue was a let down. It is obvious that big things are on the horizon, so I’d argue this is still a must read for Avengers fans, even for Caselli’s art alone.
The Verdict: 6.5/10