I've made no secret of my love for Hickman's truly fantastic Fantastic Four run, so needless to say, I was elated to learn that he was taking over Avengers and New Avengers for their Marvel NOW! relaunches. He seems to have a solid grasp of epic, cosmic storylines that few comics writers are willing to tackle these days, so it's a delight to see him playing with various corners of the Marvel Universe.
Or should that be Marvel Universes?
In this issue's story, "Zen and the Art of Cosmology," Hickman finishes up the last of three spotlight tales of his brand-new Avengers, this time focusing on Tamara Devoux, the new Captain Universe. I've never been a fan of the character much, probably due to the ever-changing host bodies for the Uni-Power force, but here there's an opportunity to make Captain Universe a character with actual depth underneath a spiffy blue and white costume. Shang-Chi, the contemplative Master of Kung Fu, is a perfect choice to sit down with Captain Universe and slowly explore who this new "broken" host is and what her presence brings to the Avengers.
And to break up pages of Shang-Chi and Tamara peeling back memory after memory, Hickman lightens things up with a fun exchange between Spider-Man, currently possessed by the mind of Doctor Octopus, and former New Mutants Sunspot and Cannonball. By incorporating continuity featured in the pages of The Superior Spider-Man, Hickman creates some early conflict between some of his Avengers and reminds us that holy crap, Doc Ock/SpOck has infiltrated the team and nobody's noticed that he's suddenly acting like a complete tool these days.
Artist Adam Kubert finishes up his three-issue arc with style, balancing images of cosmic scale with the one-on-one exchange between Shang-Chi and Tamara. He skimps a little bit on backgrounds, preferring a lot of facial close-ups, but some outstanding coloring from Frank Martin makes Captain Universe visually fascinating.
All of this builds to major revelations that a mysterious alien visitor "Blackveil" is actually a new incarnation of Nightmask and The White Event that created Marvel's New Universe is rapidly approaching Earth. And finally, Hickman provides the Builder Machine Code that's been frustrating us for the past few issues so we can decode everything that desperately needed subtitles. Yes, there's a lot going on here and incredibly, we're just six issues in. I don't know about you, but I can't wait to find out what happens next.