The Future of The Avengers, with Charts

avengers123

Yesterday, Marvel released the first issue of the fifth volume of “The Avengers,” written by the earth-shattering team of Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opeña. Creative teams truly don’t get much better than that. I could literally gush on and on about how great this book is. It’s like Morrison’s JLA reincarnated as an Avengers book, only better looking. Overall it’s a stellar first issue that gives us an Avengers story far more epic in scope and wonder than that of this past summer’s blockbuster film (and that movie was no slouch in the epic department). To combat the escalating threats of the Marvel Universe, Captain America and Iron Man decide to make the Avengers bigger. By the end of this issue, the team consists of an astonishing 18 members. Some of these are Avengers mainstays, others are obscure characters being brought in for the first time, and some are new creations entirely. All in all, it’s a bit daunting for the uninitiated. Hickman attempts to alleviate this with some nifty graphics which give each hero a symbol and a relationship towards each other. When examining this chart we can glean much about where Hickman might be taking us in this ‘Avengers World.’ Click on, but beware, there be mild spoilers here.

AVG_2

There it is, the incredible and informative chart that bears a striking resemblance to the sphere grid from Final Fantasy X. Now, as I was searching for this chart I noticed that the folks at iFanboy has already beat be to the punch in an article similar to what I’m wanting to do here. However, I’m going to extrapolate a bit further than they did. Check out their post “Decoding Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers” for reference and to get some background info on the characters.

Now, the symbols in the center represent the six Avengers from the film, who take center stage in this issue. Starting at the top and moving around clock-wise we have Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Iron Man, while the last two represent Hulk and Hawkeye. Of these last two, I’m unsure which symbol goes with who. iFanboy makes the case that the H is for Hulk and the bullseye is for Hawkeye. However, Hawkeye has, until recently, featured an H logo prominently on his mask, and what appears looks like a bullseye could possible represent some sort of radioactive particle. It’s likely iFanboy is in the right in this case and it may seem like I’m splitting hairs, but the symbol representations are important for where I’m going with this.

As we move out into the radiating circles we see that the other new characters are slotting into circles connected to one of the major six Avengers. Hickman has said in interviews that he intends for this larger Avenger team to break off into “squads” based on a missions needs. Going on iFanboy’s interpretation, which I agree with, this may in fact be the way the squads split up. If that’s the case, here’s what the teams will look like.

Captain America

Thor

Black Widow

Iron Man

Hawkeye (Probably)

Hulk (Probably)

Spider-Woman

Hyperion

N/A

Wolverine

Manifold

N/A

Captain Marvel

Captain Universe

Spider-Man

Falcon

Smasher

Sunspot

Shang-Chi

Cannonball

We see that Cap has a very street level team, Thor heads up the cosmic team, and Iron Man has a diverse, heavy hitting team, which interestingly also has all the team’s mutant members. Black Widow doesn’t have a sub-team, although we know that she will play a prominent role in the Secret Avengers. Now, back to the Hawkeye/Hulk switch up. It seems kind of odd that Manifold would be placed on Hawkeye’s sub-team. It would make a lot of sense if Manifold were with to Hulk, as he could just teleport Hulk into places to SMASH!. However, it could be that Hawkeye’s team is more stealth based, where a reality bender would be useful. There are still three spots on the presumed Hawkeye team, so maybe it will make more sense once it’s filled out. This leads me to my next set of conjectures.

Hickman has stated that the final team’s roster will contain 24 members. Not coincidentally, there are six empty circles by the end of this issue, one each for Cap, Thor, and Iron Man, and three for Hawkeye. Intriguingly, the empty slots for Cap and Iron Man are separate from the others, wrapping around the 12 and 6 o’ clock positions respectively, and are the same size as the circles for the Big 6. This seems to indicate that these will be characters of importance, on the level of Cap and Iron Man themselves. I have a hard time thinking of characters that could fit this role, so I’m very interested in seeing what Hickman has in store here.

I’m more excited about Hickman’s “Avengers” than any other book being published by Marvel, and possibly even DC for that matter (and that’s huge for me). The story and art quality, the attention to detail, even the little flourishes like the chart that sparked this post, make this a book the likes of which are hard to find in mainstream comics. If you have yet to read this issue, I assure you the things I’ve talked about here barely scratch the surface of what makes this book so great. I recommend that you check it out immediately, then look for issue #2 in two weeks, and finally ring in the new year with the first issue of Hickman’s “New Avengers,” out the first Wednesday in January.

Oh P.S., I pick team Thor.

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