Decoding Jonathan Hickman’s AVENGERS

If you’re like me, one of your favorite aspects of Avengers #1 from Marvel Comics, was the slight touch of personality Jonathan Hickman brings to book, not in the form of his writing, but rather in his wonderful charts and information illustrations. Longtime Hickman fans should recgonize his propensity for graphic design with lots of circles in practically every book he works on, whether it’s his creator owned work at Image Comics or his super hero work at Marvel.

With the recent release of Avengers #1, Hickman fans were delighted to see more of the graphic design genius, this time in the form of a visual representation of a roster of team members, represented by simple logos. If you’re anything like me, you immediately tried to figure out who’s logo was who’s. Once some friends of mine and I figured out all the logos, I thought that the rest of you may want to know, in case you hadn’t figured them out already.

Let’s start with the easy one, from the chart at the beginning of Avengers #1:

Avengers #1 Roster

Starting clockwise from the top:

  • Captain America – Star Logo
  • Thor – Hammer Logo
  • Black Widow – Spider Legs Logo
  • Iron Man – Circular Logo
  • Hawkeye – Bullseye Logo
  • Hulk – “H” Logo

That was pretty easy. But as Avengers #1 came to an end, we saw the answer to Captain America’s rallying cry and we were introduced to 12 more logos representing 12 more heroes.  Here’s how they break down:

Expanded Avengers #1 Roster

Again, starting clockwise from the top:

  • Smasher – best known as a member of the Shi’Ar Imperial guard, the title of Smasher has been held by several people. This is the latest Smasher
  • Captain Universe – holder of the Uni-Power, several hosts have been Captain Universe. We’re guessing that the former Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau is the current host. Especially when it could be guessed that she was looking out at Avengers Tower after Captain America’s call went out
  • Hyperion – originally a Superman rip off character in the villainous group the Squadron Sinister, Hyperion is a member of Squadron Supreme, from an alternate universe. It’s unknown what universe or what version of Hyperion is present here.
  • Cannonball – Long time member of the New Mutants, X-Force and the X-Men
  • Sunspot- Also a long time member of the New Mutants, X-Force and the X-Men
  • Spider-Man – Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man
  • Wolverine – Cause running a school in Westchester doesn’t take up his time
  • Eden Fesi – With reality bending powers, Eden Fesi was under the guidance of the mutant Gateway and then recruited to be one of the Secret Warriors
  • Shang Chi – Master of Kung-Fu
  • Falcon – Longtime Avenger and parter to Captain America
  • Captain Marvel – Long time Avenger
  • Spider-Woman – Long time Avenger and sometime Hydra double (or triple) agent

Not sure who some of those names are? Well, fear not, we took the liberty of matching their logos to the characters in the last page of Avengers #1, so when Avengers #2 comes out, you know who’s who (and I hope that we’re not wrong about any of these):
What’s even cooler is that if you look at the chart of logos, it’s clear that there are still 6 spots left, which would bring the total number of Avengers up to 24.  It should be fun to see who else Jonathan Hickman has up his sleeve in his 21st century approach to the “unveiling the roster” issues of Avengers.


  1. Awesome

  2. I love that chart. Particularly that Hulk’s icon is just a block “H”.

    I’m still a little confused with Shang-Chi — it totally looks like him, and I know he’s been confirmed as part of the team, but have we ever seen that icon with him before? It is VERY similar to the symbol I’ve seen elsewhere for Lei-Kung the Thunderer’s.

    In addition the future roster reveals, I’m curious to find out what the different types of relationships on the chart mean? What does the dotted line indicate? What’s the significance of the extra ring around the circles at 12 and 6 o’clock.

    Aww man, I love this stuff!

    • I was curious about the relationships as well…particularly how Cap’s and Iron Man extend further than Hawkeye’s and Thor’s. Powerset maybe or substitution ie if Thor isnt available call Hyperion first … its good stuff though.

    • The symbol looks like Lei-Kung’s because they are both trigrams from the I Ching. Lei Kung’s is two broken lines over a solid line, which unsurprisingly stands for thunder. Shang-Chi’s there is two solid lines sandwiched around a broken line, which is the trigram for Fire.

    • @balfuego: Awesome, thanks for the info!

  3. It’s all gooooooooooooood!!!

  4. Am I the only one who is lukewarm to Hyperion being on the team? I just don’t think a Superman-analogue fits well in the Marvel U.

  5. Is Cap sad because he’s running around with Spidey, Wolverine and the B-team now? I can imagine him not enjoying the company of Pete and Logan, especially together.

    • It looks like you’re referring to Iron Man’s squad. Cap is with Capt Marvel, Spider-Woman, Falcon and Shang-Chi.

      Looks like Thor has some kind of Cosmic squad with Smasher, Cap Universe, Hyperion and (I’m guessing here) the new Nova.

      Every time I look at this chart I get excited about all the possibilities for this. 😀

    • @KenOchalek: Maybe Hawkeye is heading up an espionage/ in-and-out black ops team?

    • @Ken Hickman stated on the CBR forum that he wasn’t going to use Nova! (sorry)

    • I was referring to the group that Cap is taking back to mars with to save the others. And the giant tear.

    • Nvm I guess it’s a band-aid. wtf lol

    • @OnASunday: Aha, I see what you mean and agree. Cap, Spidery and Logan would be a fun dynamic to read.

      @RileyArmpit32: You know what, I was looking at Falcon’s leg on the issue 1 cover (the rest of him is on the cover to #2) and thought it looked like Nova’s costume. Oops.

      @ReckDeud: At this point, it seems like the leading theories are that this chart (1) depicts various squads led by some of the top tier Avengers, or (2) is a command structure highlighting who gets called up in an emergency or if a certain top tier member is unavailable. Neither of those theories works 100% with what we know after one issue, so it’s hard to say — I could see Hawkeye leading an espionage team (is this the premise of Spencer’s Secret Avengers?) and having Eden Fesi available to teleport the team in and out would be handy.

  6. You mentioned you thought that was Monica Rambeau looking out the window when Cap sends out the call – but Hickman has said repeatedly in interviews he will not touch any of the Nextwave folks. Or maybe he lies!

    • No he did say that he wasn’t going to go near any of the Nextwave lot because he felt that what Warren Ellis did for those characters he as in Hickman would ruin them. Lets face it there’s a lot of love for Ellis by Hickman!!!

    • I was wondering this myself – he said he won’t be touching any Nextwave characters, but that Captain Universe was a black woman (who we sort of see in the last pages of the first issue.) Are there any other prominent Avenger-related black women in the Marvel U?

      Love Hickman’s choice to make the Avengers accurately reflect the demographics of the world. This is going to be great.

  7. My thoughts:

    Smasher: Weird pull, but okay, I’ll go with Hickman on this.
    Monica Rambeau: Smart choice. She did use to lead the Avengers, y’know.
    Hyperion: Another eyebrow raiser, but I’ll see where they go with it.
    Cannonball and Sunspot: Further integration of X-Men into the Avengers. Right on.
    Spidey and Wolvie: Go with the (new) classics.
    Eden Fesi: OH MY GOD SOMEONE BESIDES ME REMEMBERS SECRET WARRIORS. Granted, that person is the writer of Secret Warriors, but still. I dug Fesi and I look forward to seeing him go big time.
    The rest: Cool stuff.

    I’m excited!

  8. I’d love to see more of the Secret Warriors pop up on this roster. Specifically Phobos, Druid, and Daisy Johnson.

  9. That’s Shang-Chi?!? Cool. Black Widow doesn’t have a sub team? Seems unlikely. Maybe that’s where the “Avengers” in Secret Avengers comes in.

  10. I love almost anything Imperial Guard related so Smasher and the little one panel teaser has me very excited.

  11. I’m excited to learn why they are laid out the way they are. Are the one’s connecting to Cap’s logo like Cap’s sub team? And what are the big icons on the outside for?

    • Re: symbol layout

      One possibility is it indicates chain-of-command, hierarchy or sub-team. Another possibility, which has me more excited, is that the symbols are organized by skill set. This is especially intriguing in so as far as a person on a sub-branch could be seen as a potential replacement, or fill-in, for the person on thier node.

      Take for example the Thor tree. Smasher, Captain Universe and Hyperion would all qualify as god-like “heavy hitter”. On the Iron Man Branch, you have intelligent tactical and ground-level personnel. On the Cap tree, you have people with natural leadership ability, advanced training and/or the confidence of Steve Rodgers. I do not know enough about Eden Fensi to say whether he could make a substitute for Hawkeye.

      Either way, given the way the symbols are laid out, who might be under Cannonball and Shang Chi? They seem to be given a place of prominence, so I assume that means they would be fairly powerful.

    • @ctrosejr: Oooh. I like what you’re thinking about the replacements. The circles coming off Shang Chi and Cannonball both have an extra ring around them…just like Cap and Iron Man, who are essentially the leaders. What if Shang-Chi and Cannonball are being groomed to lead a future generation of Avengers? I’ll cop to not knowing much about Shang-Chi, but Cannonball has a lot of leadership experience in his past, and was always thought of as a future leader of the X-Men.

      Suddenly bi-weekly shipping doesn’t seem fast enough!

    • @KenOchalek: I was thinking that the larger circles coming off Shang-Chi and Cannonball might represent whole teams. The obvious team to come of the Cap / Shang-Chi branch would be the New Avengers. (Spider-Woman, Captain Marvel and Falcon have ties to that team, not to mention the Cap flashback shown in the issue.) Could Uncanny Avengers, or some other X-team, come off the Iron Man / Cannonball branch?

    • @ctrosejr: can you explain to me how Wolverine could be a replacement for Iron Man? I just don’t see it it all. I think they’re more likely sub teams, that’s why the groups come off of Cap, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Thor, the real leaders of the Avengers. Thor’s team would be the cosmic squad. Iron Man’s seems to be similar to the Uncanny Avengers as a joint X-Men/Avengers team, and Cap’s seems to be similar to Secret Avengers, as they all have experience in espionage.

      I’m hoping that the two furthest out circles are Pym and the Wasp, because really you need all the founders. I get why the central 6 are the movie Avengers from a marketing perspective, but Hank and Jan don’t get enough love.

    • @WacoKid: In terms of power and combat skills, Wolverine and Iron Man are totally different, you’re right. But if you look at the chart as a command structure, Wolverine has the leadership skill and experience to take command if Tony needed him to.

    • @WacoKid: Best way I can phrase it is, “Wolverine is always good in a fight.” That’s what I meant by intelligent tactical personnel. Wolivie improvises extremely well in the middle of battle, as does Peter Parker, as does Tony Stark. That’s how I see them as similar to each other. I also agree with KenOchalek that Wolverine has strong leadership ability, but primarily he is a good SECOND in command, much like Tony being better when he’s backing up Steve. I think a lot of similarities can also be drawn to Cannonball in this regard too.

  12. Thank you Jonathan Hickman for reminding me of Final Fantasy ps2 games. And thank you iFanboy because I didn’t have to spend 4 bucks to remember.

  13. Also theres a light shading around captain universe and eden fesi

  14. Can’t wait to find out who the big guns are at 12 and 6 oclock

  15. For the record: My official logo / icon /symbol is [ \m/ ].

    I haven’t read Avengers #1, but I’ll get there. I’ve already broken my rule of limiting the number of #1’s I was buying and Avengers is one, FF is another. The chart stuff is a nice touch.

  16. Thanks for that chart Ron, very cool.

  17. Oh man I’m getting sucked back in.

  18. Jonathan Hickman makes me so happy.

    I hope he includes She-Hulk and Daisy Johnson. Probably not sh, but I can dream. Whatever he does, I am so on board.

  19. I’m pretty sure you mixed up Cannonball and Sunspot’s symbols. Traditionally when ‘Berto powers up he’s got those little black balls floating around him.

    • +1

    • I thought the same thing, but I can’t figure out how the “half moon” icon would apply to Cannonball. The way Ron has it, Cannonball’s icon kind of looks like four cannonballs, while Sunspot’s icon could depict the way Sunspot turns completely black when his powers are active. I dunno, but I’m still fascinated.

    • They should have used the “^” and “o” on Cannoball’s chest.

    • Yeah. That’s definitely Sunspot’s power signature there.

      It took me a while to figure it out, but I THINK the lower symbol is a play on how half of Cannonball’s body disappears when he’s using his powers. The filled-in half is his body, and the dotted line is the blast. It’s kind of…silly…but it’s the only thing that makes sense to me. I have no idea why Hickman wouldn’t use Cannonball’s new chest symbol, instead, though.

      Speaking of Cannonball’s chest symbol: has anyone else noticed that it’s flipped upside down between the cover and the last page?

    • Me and my friends actually argued alot over these two. I should have acknowledged that they MIGHT be swapped – but while the kirby dot esque icon I could see for Sunspot, I think it’s more like Cannonball’s energy signature – and the Sun-esque one makes more sense for Sunspot – if you look CLOSELY at it, there’s small ridges on the right side, sort of like a sun.

      It’s definitely one for each of them, I guess we’ll see if my guess is right or not

  20. This reminds me of the awesome board of symblos from Legion Of Superheroes (something Hickman is also a fan of).

    Do you think Sunspot and Cannonball could be switched? The kirby crackle you put on cannonball sure looks like Sunspots, errr…spots.

  21. Wait. A Superman knock-off and an Ultra-Boy knock off on the same team? That can’t be a coincidence.

    Throw in Captain Universe and that’s a lot of fire power Cap has brought to bear. Why does he even need Spidey and Wolverine?

  22. Really great work there Ron. I loved the infographics but I do admit that I was a bit confused on what it was about. Now it makes much more sense and I know who is who (not the obvious ones) from that last page.

  23. I’m guessing Luke Cage, Mockingbird, Daredevil and Dr Strange will be on this chart soon.

    We can count out those listed on Thunderbolts.

    Cap’s side all ties to Shield so maybe Fury is the final one?

    Iron Man is tied to Atom (science or mutants) so Hank Pym would make sense or Beast

    • Beast & Dr. Strange are both going to be in New Avengers, Pym Hickman is being coy about so expect him to appear sometime in the future on the team or not & he has stated no to Daredevil & Luke Cage. I’ve heard nothing on Mockingbird but he has mentioned Songbird…..your guess is as good as mine?!

  24. A little bummed that cannonball and sunspot are on iron man’s team apparently. I was looking forward to Sam’s interactions with Cap. Still thrilled that Hickman has included one of my favorite characters on the roster, though.

  25. The House of Ideas got their hook in me. I am compelled to submit.

  26. I agree with how you have matched all of the symbols to characters except for Hawkeye and Hulk. I don’t believe the symbol you have assigned to Hawkeye is a bullseye at all.I believe it is a diagram for a nuclear blast radii.Or in Hulk’s case a gamma bomb blast radii. And Hawkeye’s traditional costume has almost always incorporated a stylized “H” in the design. Consider also that it makes sense that Captain America and Iron Man would be at opposite ends of the diagram.Likewise Thor and Hulk should logically be diagonal/catty corner to each other,the same goes for Hawkeye and Black Widow

    • Agreed 100%

    • For all the reasons you stated too

    • I’m super-excited that these are things that can be derived from this chart, but I really think you’re wrong on this one. The bullseye iconography is used HEAVILY in the cover design of the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye series. To equate that to a “gamma bomb blast radii” seems like quite the stretch.

      I mean, if you were to show that bullseye icon to me, and ask “which Avenger does this belong to?” Hulk would probably not even be my second or third guess.

      And as for their positions around the inner circle, the top half of that circle features characters that all have super-powers — Captain America, Thor, and Hulk, while the lower half are all basically human with some enhancements like Tony’s suit, Natasha’s slow-aging thing, and Clint’s marksmanship.

    • O.K. fair enough. But it is not that far out there. If you do an image search on “atomic bomb blast radii” you will return tons of images of what you would apparently call a “bullseye”. Go ahead and try it. So I’m sticking to my theory until proven wrong.

    • @KenOchalek: I see what you’re saying, but I didn’t take the “bullseye” symbol to be atomic bomb radius. I took it to be the shockwaves that are always displayed when the hulk jumps, lands, punches, claps, stomps, and basically does anything. There are almost always rings of force shown when he does these things, and CinCity is right that the “H” letter has historically been associated with Hawkeye in his costume and beyond. Of course, you are right about the current Hawkeye symbology on the Fraction/Aja book, but I feel I should point out that the Hawkeye book is A) not part of Marvel NOW! and B) focused on Clint Barton OUT of costume. I don’t think you should base your Hawkeye costume Bible on the covers of those books because they are so far out of the “super hero” marvel universe. I think they are doing their own thing, which is awesome, but I think that means they are not the best basis for this analysis.

      And how about this, each of the 6 initial Avengers are the Avengers who appeared in the Whedon film. All the characters that had their own films before the Avengers film have branches coming off of them. The H and the Spider logo do not. Neither Hawkeye or Black Widow had their own movies either. If you mentally associate it with the film(s) I think the H for Hawkweye works even better.

      Until I see something official, I will not believe that the isolated H is Hulk.

    • @KevinAB: I like what you have said about the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye run. I would think that nearly 50 years of iconography trumps a 5 issue story (or whatever # they’re at so far) I could be wrong tho, perhaps it is already accepted as canon. I don’t want to come off as too dogged,but I would like to rephrase my description of the logo in question. If the bullseye were described as the symbol for “ground zero” of a gamma bomb, would that sell anyone on the argument? Ground Zero, Point of Impact, these better fit the idea I was trying to express. The imagery evoked by them also perfectly fits the logo/icon.

    • Also “Bullseye” logos generally have a dark spot in the middle, not negative space. Seriously, do a Google image search and you won’t find any bullseye (in the first page of listings) with negative space in the center. In other words, if it is a bullseye symbol up there, it is the most atypical bullseye ever drawn.

  27. I love this, can’t wait to find out who the larger spots off by themselves at the top and bottom are…

    and just cause I’m peverse this way… doesn’t this chart kinda look like is could be overlayed on the Sentry’s ‘S” symbol?

    • You have named He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named! Noooooooo

    • The thing is I really like the first Sentry miniseries back in the day… I’ve been MutantSentry online since that series came out… I kinda hate what Bendis did with him (Age of the Sentry was cool though)

    • Perhaps surprisingly, I am in complete agreement with you. That first mini-series/collection is actually pretty great. It’s a shame what they did with him later.

  28. Gods

    Renegades / Independent Thinkers

    Recon / Espionage

    Soldiers / Military

    The top one is obviously Fin Fang Foom.

  29. Avengers #1 should have come with a flow chart to explain what the point was. Horrible debut issue and why does Cap’s new look seem to be inspired by the New 52 uniforms?