The Reader Who Could Be You

WARNING: The following text pretty thoroughly spoils last week’s Avengers #3. Or explains it, depending on your point of view.

captain universeClass, the fellow pictured to the left is called Captain Universe, sort of. “Captain Universe” is more of a concept than a guy; the jawline peeking out of that getup could belong to anyone called anything. Captain Universe isn’t the secret identity of a guy with a career path in super heroism. It is a free floating, disembodied power (the “Uni-Power,” to be precise) that jumps into people unexpectedly when they and/or the Cosmos need it most. If a super hero is needed, and none of them are around, and God happens to be paying attention instead of doing a crossword puzzle, Captain Universe is there. You’re walking down the street to get a bagel when suddenly Cthulu comes out of a manhole or something and bam, you’re wearing a sparkly leotard for a while. When the threat has passed, the super spree ends and you’re standing in the middle of the street in your sweatpants again with a lot of explaining to do.

Captain Universe’s power is cosmic and tends to be whatever the writer the crisis happens to need. The Uni-Power has stopped nuclear holocausts, has repaired the walls between dimensions, and has jumped into a kid to get bullies to quit picking on him. It has jumped onto Daredevil. It has jumped onto a baby. It didn’t stop a thing called “the Annihilation Wave” so clearly it is, oh, let’s say moody vis-à-vis defining the phrase “cosmic crisis.”

(I am going somewhere with this.)

Captain Universe has, I believe, appeared in the Marvel Universe on fewer than thirty occasions since his 1979 debut, and almost a third of those were during Reagan’s first year in office. His first appearance was in Micronauts, so you will never be able to read it as long as you live.

By his very nature, Captain Universe rarely appears in the same comic book series twice. Captain Universe pops up so infrequently that every time I happen to see him I think, “Hey, look whose trademark needed to be renewed!” I would have sworn the last time I saw Captain Universe was 1991, but it seems he was in a book I read just last year. This doesn’t make me feel addled or senile, though, because Captain Universe is quite literally a non-character with no traits; it would be more alarming if I did remember seeing him.

I am telling you all of this because apparently no one else is going to.

Captain Universe single-handedly resolved the first arc of Avengers last week. In the middle of a pitched battle that would determine the very fate of Earth itself, she (it’s currently a she) walked around until one of the bad guys recognized her. She asked them to stop fighting and go away, so they did. I had to practice my deep breathing exercises to stop my pulse from pounding. And so it came to pass that, after three issues of looming genocidal cataclysm, the genociders we barely knew were defeated by a climactic nice-asking from Captain Universe, a character that no issue of the book ever introduced.

Oh, her name was typed in six-point font in a list with thirty-five other names on the recap page. In issue #2, there was a little picture of her face that said “Captain Universe” that none of the main characters discussed or mentioned. Despite the ample groundwork and rich back story of typing her name twice, though, she first physically appeared in the series in this issue without a word of introduction, or even anyone in the book saying her name. “Hey, Captain Universe! Nice to see you possessing some new rando.” Nothing. A sparkly lady walks up and says, “Guys: knock it off,” and everyone says, “Yeah, okay” and starts packing up the hatchback, taking with them all the good will the series had accrued thus far. The end.

Welcome, new reader. You can look up who you’re reading about in Wikipedia, assuming you can deduce their unspoken names through context clues. Oh, what a jolly puzzle awaits you!



Her name is Smasher, according to a creator interview I had to look up before I knew what I was looking at.

People who have been reading comics for years had no idea what the hell they were looking at. I know because more than one of them came and asked me, and when you’re turning to me for answers you are in bad shape indeed.

This is the kind of thing that’ll bury a medium. I’ve gotten a better sense of what I was looking at from the first cut scene in a video game. This was chapter three, Shakespeare. Sixty pages in. Maybe you’re planning to double back in the next arc and fill in the blanks, but what if I’m not there when you do? Those odds are looking pretty bad for you all of a sudden.

There was another character playing a significant role in this issue, also a female. She got a healthy chunk of time under the spotlight and more dialogue than characters we know a lot better. For most of her appearance, her back was to the “camera.” Nobody said her name. I’ve been reading Marvel comics since I was a wee, tiny lad, and I had no idea who she was. The closest I got was “Why is Protector a woman now?” I found the one tiny name on the recap list I didn’t recognize and Googled it. I still had no idea who she was for, you see, she is a new character. This may well have been her first appearance, and no one said her name. Apparently, she will get some backstory two or three issues from now. Somebody let me know how that goes.

Why not just build a moat around the comic shop and fill it with crocodiles?

I believe in being patient and letting the tale teller tell his tale. I believe in forgetting “jumping-on points,” diving right in, and figuring it out as you go like our nerdy forefathers did. But there’s not knowing a character because you started with issue #247, and there’s not knowing a character because he last appeared when you were six years old. When debuting a new character in a team book, feel free to explain how she came to be on the team, or why everyone else on that team is working with her despite not knowing who she is. You are trying to sell more books, are you not? Having big ideas is useless unless you let the rest of us know what they are.


Jim Mroczkowski would get the Uni-Power taken away from him very quickly.


  1. I can understand the complaint but to be honest the need to go and research some past events and characters is what really got me so involved in comics in the first place.

    • Same here, being a generally a Marvel kid my whole life a cpl years ago DC’s weekly 52 event & Blackest Night led me to researching they’re entire history from the 1st super hero team ever, Multiverses,Crises’,New Gods and plenty of multigenerational connections that made me love the DCU like I never did and realize I didn’t know half as much as I thought I did and also realized I paid enough attention to know more than I thought or just good intuition and connected the dots. But with an entity so obscure and seldom seen as Captain Universe, they might wanna through in a little “hey who’s this fighting alongside us like our teammate” comment from someone, but they did start this book off with a plan of who they wanted to recruit. My only question is how do you recruit an entity that comes and goes when it feels needed?

    • *insert comma after “whole life” in 1st sentence and *generally being a Marvel kid my

  2. I am one of those long time readers who had no idea what they were looking at. I usually think most arcs could be an issue shorter, but I think that this needed one more. It just….ended. Hulk is smashing, Abyss is trying to get hammered by Thor, Ex Nihilo is doing his best open mic night Thanos impersonation, and then that one chick from Nextwave (Maybe?) becomes blue and sparkly and everyone is pals.

    Man, was I ever lost.

    Oh well, comics is comics. On to the next issue.

  3. Really happy to see this post. Just read the #3 this morning and thought I had missed an issue or something. Not that everything/everyone needs to be obviously pointed out, but if you’re going to deus ex machina your way out of what was looking to be a really interesting, this-actually-feels-like-it-matters story, the least you could do is tuck a bit of exposition in there so you don’t befuddle your readers.

    That said, the art was absolutely stellar.

    • And why have Captain Deus-Ex-Machina in the FIRST ARC? That is weak sauce. C’mon, Hickman, get your shit together.

    • Re: Deus Ex Machina criticism – Perhaps the point of this arc was not “How will these 3 “bad guys” be defeated” But – what prompted them to get bigger, what does this Avengers World feel like, and maybe its a setup to Hickman’s entire run told in a hopefully enjoyable way?

      Maybe we are seeing how powerful Capt Universe is so we have proper understanding when there is something that comes along and is a challenge that she cannot beat on her own – or even the combined might of her and just couple Avengers – but show’s the need of ALL of them.

    • Good point. As I mentioned, I read the issue this morning so my reaction and comment were a little knee-jerk. I guess I was mostly disappointed since the story, which I ‘ve really been enjoying, seemed to just end.

      I’ve also only read a handful of Hickman, so I may just not be used to his particular style of storytelling.

    • I would suggest that the story didn’t just end, but is merely just BEGINNING! WOO! 🙂

  4. Why Jonathan Hickman book so hard? Why book make me work for plot? Why book not present answers to all questions after twenty pages? It totally unlike Hickman to set things up that will pay off in three years. Must answer questions NOW!

    Seriously, dude, stop reading Jonathan Hickman. He always does this. People had these same problems with Fantastic Four in the first year (if you don’t believe me, go read the conveniently archived iFanboy reviews, including your own), before it all came together and they realized it was a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.

    Why are people still surprised? The castle is still there, little goldfish. Still there. Either sit back for the ride, or spend your dollars somewhere else. I hear that Rick Remender is good.

    • Weird, there were some replies to your comment that dissapeared in the last couple minutes.
      It’s maybe a little mean in tone, but overall I agree with your points. This gave me a chuckle so I clicked your name to see if you had any other clever recent comments. I wanted to say you should update your Bio. Sounds like you actually like Hickman now. Maybe you wrote the Bio before his “heartbreaking work of staggering genius” was complete. Nice Eggers reference by the way.

    • Psych. You said Kirkman not Hickman. Your Bio passes muster after all.

    • Have to agree with this comment, if not with the tone. Jimski et al: Either chill out and wait for Hickman to bring it all together (there’s a new issue out as early as this week) or drop the book! There’s no shortage of Avengers books on the stands, and Uncanny Avengers has Remender masterfully utilizing the Claremont-style caption boxes that explain everything for new and old reader alike. Maybe that’s more your flavor.
      Meanwhile, I’m a long time Marvel reader and I was as clueless as everyone else as to who Captain Universe was this week or what exactly she did to end this battle. But, unlike everyone else apparently, I assumed it was one of those pesky mysteries, a question that will be answered over the course of a long-running multi-year story arc. (Which, by the way, is exactly what Hickman promised when he took over the Avengers gig!) I didn’t feel the need to “look it up on wikipedia” because I can accept that things are going to happen in Hickman’s set-up arc that won’t make sense until much later. That’s one of the things people tend to like about his writing.

    • Pretty much the same thing Grant Morrisson does… A LOT. And I actually enjoy it quite a bit when Morrisson does it, so I wouldn’t criticize.

      However, does it make me want to read Avengers now?


    • Can somebody tell me why my now three replies to this comment just keep vanishing from this site shortly after I post them?

  5. Superbly put, Jim … as I ask time and time again, where are the editors when scripts such as this come in? Secret Avengers #3, by contrast – and as pointed out in this week’s Pick of the Week podcast – gave us an omniscient narrator introducing people and giving us some motivation – result!

    @davidtobin100, it’s fun to research unfamiliar characters, but the story we’re reading should give us enough info to enjoy it before rushing to the computer – character names are pretty fundamental, heck, they’re essential to find the Wiki entries.

  6. The only reason I knew captain universe was a what if spider man became captain universe story that I read as a kid. Was totally lost on the other character, in some ways this is how Hickman writes though and I trust him over the long haul.

    • I realise this is how he writes – I dropped Fantastic Four and FF because of it – but why does he do this? He could still do longform storytelling while giving enough fundamental info to make each chapter a satisfying slice of fun.

    • He probably does it because its how he likes to tell a story. I also like how he tells a story. His F4/FF run was the only Marvel book i was reading for quite a while. He is a must buy for me whatever the genre or publisher because I like how he tells a story, and I often like the stories he tells (not always, but often enough).

  7. First: Sorry, for iFanboy there is too much negativity in this article. If you don´t like that particular issue, just write a bad review about it.

    Second: I personally have grown to like those books where I don´t know WTF is going on and just enjoy the show, for example “Prophet”.

    Third: As a long time reader this “figuring out as you go” is some rare moment that reminds me of the time I started reading comics, where more than once I was wondering who person X was and why it did action Y. I fully trust one Hickman to have written an issue like that exactly for us long time readers to give us that figuring-it-out feeling. I personally enjoy those moments and thank Hickman for that.

    Fourth: Giving too much about being new-reader-friendlieness benefits no one. If as a new reader you like something you are willing to invest in the story and figure it out. When I started reading Marvel comics regulary I started with “avengers disassembled” which was definitely not reader friendly but I liked Bendis´writing and here I am eight years later and not one inch wiser cause I still don´t know what happened in that d@*# closet.

  8. I don’t know anything about Capt Universe, admittedly I picked up that name through press and interviews before the series but other than that – I got the impression that she was SUPPOSED to be mysterious to us! She seemed mysterious to the human part of her… and so I assume there will be some slow reveals about these characters. This whole arc I thought was awesome – and was meant to give you a taste of various things – and we will learn more about them as we go.

    It seems like a lot of criticism’s of this have been “I don’t know everything – Who are these people” but everyone raves about Prophet which is MUCH more difficult to navigate (but is till cool and fun). \

    Let this story unfold – we don’t need everything spelled out for us right away.

  9. I give Hickman the benefit of the doubt on this particular issue. He doesn’t write traditional arcs. There are definitely questions to be answered in the story he’s telling, and am confident that he will address them.

  10. I’m very happy that an article pertaining to the “Just check Wikipedia!” trend was written. I was annoyed by a comment here a week or so ago in the Thanos Rising thread, where someone was complaining about the books existence since, afterall, you can just go to Wikipedia to read about his origins! Hooray for defeating the purpose of reading comics!!

  11. I think Marvel deserves a nod for having the HUGE BALLS necessary to drop an “Avengers #1” that was this impenetrable. And still it was far easier to grasp exactly what was going on than “New Avengers # 1” which…I mean, that thing was like Fort Knox!

    Kidding aside, I see your point, but I still loved it!

  12. All I know was Captain Universe showed up talking about pie and the fight was over!

  13. I should mention I understand and agree with the sentiment of this article – you shouldn’t need to look at Wikipedia to understand a story – but I disagree with the use of Avengers as an example. I haven’t looked up Captain Universe on wikipedia. I’m waiting to learn more about her through the story. I suggest people show some patience and wait and see what happens in the story – it might be more rewarding if you discover things the way the creators intend for you to discover them.

  14. I totally see where this article is coming from but also feel Hickman gets the benefit of the doubt… for while at least.

  15. Personally, this kinda stuff is what pushes me to drop a lot big 2 books. Marvel did it before with their previous X-men run where the #1 issue was assuming continuity knowledge and i’ve just found all too often, they love to make the assumption that the reader has been passionately following these storylines for 30 years and will be able to follow all these things. I’ve found that i’m more engaged as a reader when its all on the page, and if you’re referring to an old story do a little flashback or aside or something so i know what we’re talking about.

    I’ve dropped so many series because i just can’t follow the stories anymore. While yes, i could spend my time researching comic book storyline history on wikipedia i have no desire to do that, because its not that fun for me and i don’t have that kind of time. I really don’t like being expected to do homework and research to enjoy a 22 page comic book.

  16. I think we’ve hit a point of “De gustibus non disputandum est” or, as Jason Wood would say, “It makes me happy to see my friends reading comics they love.” This is the way Hickman works, and between his Image work and Fantastic Four, he’s built up enough rep to be given the benefit of the doubt on this one. I did find the ending was very much a deus ex machina, but again I trust him. And, sorry, but Marvel (and DC) have a huge library of characters, and it gets boring if writers use the same ones over and over again. This is half the fun, getting to know these folks.

    • BC1 – I am with you. I am a Marvel Reader from the early eighties and right now the only books I read are Hickman’s. He is a master of story-telling and this is the beginning of an awesome ride. I am surprised to see the negative comments and the desire to dumb down the comics so that the slow readers can catch what is going on. It is my opinion that the best comics have always pushed the envelope. We know that no one is reading Avengers because of the movie (sales have proven it), so why act like it. I love the team Hickman has assembled (sorry) and can’t wait to LEARN what is going on with each of them. I feel like we have been given a great sample of what stories we might learn about – Captain Universe, Shang-Chi, New Mutants, Hyperion, Imperial Guard – good lord, the scope is huge! It could take years to unravel and why not, I am going to read the title until they give it to someone else. I hope they don’t. Comics are better because of Hickman and his brand of intelligent story-telling. I just got the Secret Warriors Omnibus for Christmas and SUPER-ENJOYED the reread – I caught so much more and increased my enjoyment. You cannot say that about very many comics. All my Hickman stuff is read 2 or 3 times – if you could have digital dog-eared pages – only my Hickman books would have them. Sorry for the rant, but man, be patient and enjoy the ride!

  17. I’d be more willing to go along and give Hickman the benefit of the doubt if the arc had been more interesting, or at least intriguing, which it wasn’t at all.
    The second issue was virtually devoid of new content, and the third issue was just abrupt and awkward. It’s great to build up to something, but when you don’t have anything satisfying happening in your first arc (not to mention a second issue that basically just reiterated everything on the previous issue), you’re kinda taking decompression a little too far.

  18. “Oh, god, a book made me go look something up on the internet! THE HORROR! THE HORROR!”

    I won’t reiterate what others have said about letting the narrative flow or perhaps waiting for issue 4 where “all will be revealed.” But egads, this is what passes for a supposedly intelligent and “older” readership? “I AM ANGRY THAT THEY USED A CHARACTER I DIDN’T KNOW. I AM ANGRY THAT SAID CHARACTER WASN’T MENTIONED BEFORE”

    Were you also angry when the red-headed guy with the sign kept getting focus in the Watchmen? I bet you hated that Mark Wahlberg’s character came back in THE DEPARTED.

    If this were a brand new character who just showed up out of the blue, would you be as angry? It just reads as such a stereotypical nerd-boy rage, from someone who does nothing but remind us that “I’m not like them.”

    Now, let’s be honest, Marvel’s MARVEL NOW moved has been a bit of a new-reader-unfreidnly-crapfest. (Not that the books on the whole are, but Marvel’s not even bothering with new readers with this move. None of the Avengers books. Hell, Even All New X-Men has a steep curve to it. It’s a fumble of the whole point of the “soft” reboot.) Much of the line is a turgid miasma of continuity. But… this… this is like. Did anyone complain when in CAPTAIN MARVEL Carol keeps talking about people we’ve never heard of before but the narrative keeps treating them like we should? It wasn’t a bad move. We don’t need Cyclops explaining his powers every other page. We don’t need everycharacter saying someone’s name.. Could this have been clearer? Sure. But at the same time…. give it a fucking minute. Maybe the point is the mystery.

    Because right now, I think you’re going to be reading #4 on the slow train to Trollsville.

  19. I had never heard of Bucky before I read Brubaker’s run on Cap. I guess Brubaker is a terrible writer who used an obscure Golden Age character as the driving force of his over-arching plot.

    I mean Remender’s X-force requires you to have a PhD in Age of Apocalypse. I know i had to read the first arc twice and then sift through ComicVine and Wikipedia to get what was happening. How is Hickman using an old concept different than Bendis using the Skrull invasion cues throughout his earlier Avengers work? I certainly didn’t know anything about Skrulls before Skulektra got stabbed.

    Maybe it’s the way I read. English is my second language, but I read a lot of works in it. I have never not have a dictionary handy when reading. Also, do you read Dickens or Doestoyevsky or Doyle without researching their context?

  20. way too much

  21. Last time I saw Captain Universe was in “The Gauntlet: Spider-Man vs Juggernaut”. Dont know when that originally came out. I guess one of the new powers we can add to the list is Super Pervasion, or maybe people just recognized her as Cap Universe and didn’t want to pick a fight with that.I haven’t read the comic tho so I’m probably missing important details. I’ve been trying to finsih Hickman’s FF run, and can say some stuff takes some time to figure out and wait for the other “pieces” to fall into place. But I think 2 important things came out of this issue: 1) kids can see that words can resolve conflicts and 2) one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel U is a woman (maybe also first time Cap Universe is female too?) , cue feminist article on Progress in Comics!

  22. I know I might catch some flak here but reading the article, and all the comments, I could swear we were talking about Grant Morrisson.

    So all I can think of while reading all this is… SIMPSONS DID IT!

  23. Fuck exposition and yeah mystery. I love not knowing and wanting to know. The anwsers will come and we all know it. but I can understand feeling rip off by this story if look at it as a bad guy does bad, punch bad guy and super heroes win. But I love the questions: Who’s Adam(Warlock?)?, why the Garden, Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Aleph?, who are the new/oldnew heroes? Thats why I keep buying series; for the mysteries. Not to see them kick the bad guys ass, I know they will, but i love not knowing and wanting to know.

  24. I feel like the tidy resolution, coupled with Capt. Universe’s role in it is meant to be a big red herring. First off, we don’t know what “Adam” was saying that made Abyss freak out, or what he even is. Secondly, the last panel alludes to Tony causing death somehow. This story is not over by any means, and I am honestly shocked so many people are freaking out over this issue just because some c-list characters happened to save the day.

  25. I’ve been wanting to write a review of this comic all weekend, but couldn’t find the time. Now, Jim Mroczkowski, has beaten me to the punch. Yeah, this is simply horrendous. I said in my review of issue 1 that it appeared that Hickman really wanted to write “Justice Society.” Now, it appears that he wants to write “Justice Society” with purple prose and deus ex machina endings. I used to love the Avengers. I had to drop Bendis’ run because I couldn’t take anymore repetitive blabbering and cornball humor. It looks like Hickman may be just as unreadable. Oh, well. At least I have “Uncanny Avengers,” which has been consistently terrific, and “Young Avengers” looks like it just might be downright ingenious.

  26. I had no problem with the plot, I had seen Captain Universe before, and even though it was an easy way out, it was different at least. And they are still living on Mars so you know it will all be visited again. The one problem I had was how did they get Captain Uneverse on the team??? It posesses a different person each time, no secret identity you can go visit. The whole point of hte character is that it is random and you can never tell where or when it will show up. I dont believe they have a way to get in touch with a universal spirit, what did they do just pray to it???

  27. The issue in question left me wanting as well, despite the amazing art.

    I don’t know where (if) I read this somewhere, but this seems like the flip side to “Chekhov’s gun” ('s_gun):

    “If you use the Ultimate Nullifier in the final act, you should explain the existence of in an earlier act”

    I am sure Hickman has a bigger plan that will be beautifully complex and crystalline in structure , but in episodic form it fell a bit flat.

  28. I’m confused, why are people talking about the story having an unsatisfying ending? That wasn’t the ending! And she didn’t just talk her way out of the problem she DISINTEGRATED Aleph in a pure display of Godlike power! Did people skip that page? Captain Universe (and I’ve never seen her before and am only aware of the character from vague memories of old Spider-Man stories) is well-defined in this one issue as being the BIGGEST threat they have. Look at that panel where everyone’s reacting to her in awe! Above even Hulk and Thor, she is THE high end of the scale in this book. Beyond that, we don’t need to know any more about her… Yet.

    This book is all about scale (‘We have to get bigger’) and the real story lies in the building of a new ‘Avengers world’. I actually thought Hickman was maybe a little too on-the-nose about that when he had Captain America outright say that and the pretty blatant parallelism with the bad guy’s plan, but I’m really intrigued to see where this ‘world’ goes next. I’m especially looking forward to seeing how he deals with the smaller end of the scale with Shang-Chi and the like. The building blocks have just been taken out of the box, so it makes no sense to complain about how the structure looks already…

    Also, Smasher is one of the few characters who actually specifically says her name and briefly mentions her background (in the SAME panel) in this issue, so it’s odd to me that you’d use her as your example…

    • Yes, but who cares? Who cares that Capt. Universe disintegrated the bad guy who captured the entire Avengers main roster? Hickman built up more time describing their motives than the individual who ended the whole confrontation. That doesn’t strike you as odd?

      That’s the thing…I don’t care enough to find out what happens next. The threat was eliminated in the most boring way possible.

    • Ah, that’s a totally seperate and entirely legitimate reaction. If the story didn’t grab you and you don’t care then you don’t and that’s obviously fair enough.

      I do care enough about the story to find out what happens next, so I will.

      And yeah, the fact we found out more about the villains than the victorious hero does strike me as interisting, that’s part of what wil bring me back every two weeks. Different strokes for different folks. 🙂

  29. I can’t believe how many people disagree with this article, it echos what I felt about reading Avengers 3 almost perfectly. Now maybe its because I’ve never read Hickman (everyone seems to indicate this is how all his stories start) but I really felt like there were too many characters and virtually nothing in the way of explanation. I like a long story with a big payoff but that doesn’t mean the story needs to begin incoherently. If it wasn’t for the art I would have dropped the book with this issue so the “payoff” wouldn’t even matter which I think is the real point here. How many questions can you handle before you get your first answer?

    I don’t think there was nearly enough room in the first 3 issues for what Hickman wanted out of this arc but we’re already moving onto something different.

  30. I strongly disagree. When I read comics as a kid I also enjoyed finding more about new characters or searching for obscure characters appearances in Marvel Team up or the like. If they did a roll call of everyone it would have been boring wasted pages. If you don’t find out this issue you will eventually find out who they are. Not knowing these characters names or history did nothing to hinder the story. The fact I knew who Captain Universe was when I first saw him was a detriment because he has always been lame. When I read something for the first time I don’t expect to know everything. This complaint has no legs. Based on this logic Game of Thrones should be an utter failure as even characters you see weekly you don’t who they all are.

  31. You know what other characters they didn’t explain in the arc? All of them. Who the fuck is Spider-man? And did that dude have a claw come out of his fist? That makes zero sense. They should of had a few pages explaining all that.

  32. I literally had no problem with this. It’s boggling my mind that so many people couldn’t follow this. I appreciate new readers could have a problem but if they’re prepared to stick around I’m sure all will be revealed, if they don’t want to stick with this there’s like 5 or 6 other avengers books they could try out.

  33. I thought Conor gave a legitimate complaint that you have no idea who is who in the Avengers comic. Not the obvious people (Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc), but the rest who casual fans are going to have no idea who they are. A caption box would have been nice in the one panel that showcases everybody. That or a cast page ala ‘Manhattan Projects’ would have been nice too.

    I rarely use wikipedia or research in general to figure out what’s going on in a story. Only when it is absolutely necessary to I do it.

  34. Wow. Way to leap right across the point of the article and into a vat of feedback loop.

    It is one thing when “artists” (because the whole team is responsible, not just the writer) tease content, leave clues and breadcrumbs (even those that may not be obvious until after the arc is reviewed), and allow readers to use their brains to follow the story. When this happens, the reader is left thinking “i’m not sure what happened, but i can’t wait to find out what’s going on!”

    It is an entirely different thing when something is poorly crafted and leaves readers (new and old) bewildered and thinking “What did i just read? I don’t know what I’m looking at and I think I just wasted $3.99. I won’t be wasting more.”

    You want my anecdotal experience to add to the din? (too bad, you’re getting it anyway.) I’m clever and just new enough that sometimes I don’t know if I’m supposed to not know what’s going on, or if it’s obvious to someone with more experience with the titles. I am used to “suffering”, to asking friends or wikipedia to provide context. I like to know if my disappointment is self-inflicted or not.

    This particular issue, while being very pretty, made very little sense. I couldn’t keep track of anything, and when the goddess showed up and shut everything down (after demonstrating her powers by blowing up the robot), I was confused, because “goddess of the universe” seemed a bit out of character for Marvel and yet everyone seemed cool with it. Once it was all over, i thought “Oh, it’s a set up to something that’s about to happen. Okay. I really hope that makes more sense.”

  35. Avengers # 4 this week. Let’s start taking bets. Are we allowed in on what the fuck just happened or is this the Avengers version of Lost?

    If the latter, I’m out. I can handle being let in on what’s going down over the course of a few issues, but there at least has to be an explanation coming soon. It can be later, but NOT 20 issues later. The characters and promise of an explanation can keep some people tied in that long, but I learned my lesson with Mourning Glories that I just don’t want to be kept in the dark forever. We’ll see. I’m in for a bit, but Avengers is on probation.

  36. I was looking forward to seeing how all these new characters would become Avengers. Especially the ones like Captain Universe (Who I totally remembered and knew who, or rather, what it was!). Hyperion and Smasher? Last I saw Hyperion was still part of the Squadron Supreme and was brainwashed into fighting the Avengers yet again. And Smasher was a guy in the Shi’ar Imperial Guard. I was curious as to see how they became Avengers but it was totally glossed over and I was a little disappointed. So happy to read this as it makes me feel better about my disappointment at my favorite teams book at the moment.

    • Hyperion was the big one for me. Who the hell is that dude?

    • Since you guys have so many questions and are so intrigued why don’t you give Hickman a chance to continue to build on this? The art is amazing, the team combination is interesting and the story moves forward – better than the rest of the rehashed crap and dialog we see in the other books. At least we are going somewhere! If you don’t like the book, don’t sound so interested…

  37. I can deal with Deus Ex Machina…it’s a comic, for gawds sake, it happens all the time…and I can deal with stories that don’t let you in on the whole story right away. The problem is that Hickman failed to interest me enough to care who these other characters are, why Capt. Universe was able to stop the whole fight with a point of her finger, who “Adam” was, or why Tony Stark is being compared to death.

    As a story, it failed.

    And at $4 a pop, my money can be spent elsewhere on more engaging material.

    • Good point on the Tony Stark comparison to death. I got to that page and was like “Whaaa-?” I felt like I missed something. There is just too many question marks and too little of an emotional/narrative hook to make you want to stay.

  38. I know it’s Hickman’s thing to do long form storytelling but i don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little box above a characters head that says “Smasher(insert power description here)” To me, if I’m someone who is picking up Avengers #1 to try out this Marvel NOW business i would have dropped it after 3 issues. I’m not dropping it because i understand how Hickman works but new readers probably won’t and they’re not going to stick around to find out.

    Also, i just looked up Smasher on wiki and holy crap i feel sorry for any new readers doing that. The main picture is of a dude and then it says

    “Smasher IV

    A new Smasher appears in the Marvel NOW! relaunch. This version is an as-yet-unnamed female from Earth who joins the Avengers.”

    This sentence makes my brain hurt. so it took Spider-Man over 30 years to become an Avenger but this broad doesn’t even have a name yet and she’s got a key to the mansion?

    • See, I’m one of those new readers…well, long lost reader who returned after 18 years…and so while I wasn’t coming completely cold, I wanted something coherent that was going to get me excited about reading comics again. So yeah, Avengers didn’t do it for me at all.

      Hawkeye, Thor, and FF are killing it right now though, so I’m still happy.

    • I figured as much. I hadn’t talked to any new readers about this book but reading it myself as a life long Marvel fan even i was lost. It’s not too much to ask for names of characters

    • Could be we have been thrown into the middle of a story and if you continue to invest the payoff will be amazing! Take it from me, all of this interest that you guys have in this and the mystery is PART of the process.

  39. This all sort of reminds me of Morrison’s Final Crisis, which was completely impenetrable, and structured and told like a hyper active child was flicking through the channels at light speed. It was about Darkseid and the Monitors and ended with some kind of devil and a bunch of talk about “imagination”. I’m still angry with myself for buying each issue, and then reading it again to hopefully make sense of it. I didn’t find it if it was there.

    • I remember buying the first two issues at the same time a year after that series ended. I read them both that night and halfway through issue 2 I thought “I don’t know if I’m sober enough for any of this.”