Christmas has come and gone. It’s back to the grind for us at Geek Hard. If you check out the site regularly, the grind usually means comics news and reviews. If you checked out our weekly new comics preview earlier this week, you’d know that there were not many releases this week. One of those few that made its way to the comic shelves on Christmas Eve was Avengers #24.Now. Hailed in the solicits as the perfect “jumping on” point for new readers, the story is the first chapter in a new Avengers arc entitled Rogue Planet. Brought to us by the A-List creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic, the current architects of the Earth’s Mightiest Adventures, the series has been a bit convoluted in its first year working mostly as a set up for the Infinity Event that swept the Marvel U for the past several months. With that all out of the way, this issue offers a fresh start. But is it truly an easy entrance into the now sci-fi heavy world of the Avengers?

Our story begins in the future……3030 AD to be exact. The Iron Man of that time period has made the decision to travel back through time, breaking international time laws and risking the space-time continuum, to change events involving the Avengers in December of 2013. Turns out there’s a big-ass planet headed our way at a speed and trajectory that is designed to destroy the Earth. This future Iron Man, with help from Tony, has designed a way to not only save our world but also to preserve that of the “Rogue Planet” as well. This plan involves the Avengers Super Group – all 24 plus members – to work as a team to make this happen. Thank God they just spent half the year enlisted in an intergalactic army and are pretty much use to working as a well oiled machine. There’s also a few surprises and asides that add to the character development that Hickman has been working into the series along the way. The outcome of the story will most likely have repercussions for both the Avengers and the Illuminati. Not bad for a thirty page story.

Can two Ironmen and a boatload of Avengers save the Earth? I would hope so.

Overall, this issue is a home run. The characters feel in line with what Hickman has been setting up throughout the series while not feeling so foreign that a new reader couldn’t relate to them. It’s nice to see an Avengers story that doesn’t have anything to do with Thanos or the Builders. Very refreshing. That being said, it’s not like there’s any new ground covered here. There’s still an intergalactic threat. Half the issue takes place in Space. There’s so many Avengers used throughout they’re practically tripping over each other. Thankfully, even with all these characters and plot points in play, the story is pretty easy to follow and works both as the first chapter of a larger arc as well as a stand alone issue. It was surprising to see some of the house cleaning being done on the page. Instead of using a forward moving plot point to remove Wolverine and Spidey from the A-Roster, Cap reveals that he’s removed them from the team in an aside with Tony Stark. It’s an odd way to go about things but still effective. For me, the only real stand out gaff in the story happens just before this moment when the Avengers are enjoying a Barbecue on top of Stark Tower. The gang are getting some much needed relaxation with Thor working the grill and the rest of the crew hanging out in deck chairs and getting their grub on. A few pages later, when the future Ironman shows up, it’s revealed that it’s December. This is reiterated throughout the issue as there’s multiple mentions of a special Christmas gift for Tony Stark. Here’s the problem with that: how can the crew be enjoying what looks like a hot summer barbecue on the roof at the start of a New York winter? I know some of you are saying, “Stark has a weather controlling device to create a summer-like atmosphere” or “Thor is controlling the weather” or some other way to explain this gaff away. I am accepting of all of these explanations. Just put it on the page. That’s all I ask. One throwaway line to explain it. It’s a small nitpick but it is relevant to the story. I don’t want to be taken out of a very engaging story because of one small mistake.

A summer barbecue on a New York December Night? A little explanation is in order.

The artwork of the issue has no mistakes to speak of. The art pulls you into the story and keeps you there. Esad Ribic has a very distinct style that has really brought a new element to the world of the Avengers. What was most enjoyable in this story was the brief glimpse of the future. Ribic gives us an interesting Baxter Building, inside and out. Trumping that is his design of the 3o3o AD Ironman. It’s a very cool look that incorporated older designs but has a flare of originality. Ribic gives everything an epic feel and does a great job of beefing up Hickman’s already weighty storytelling. But is it a bit too epic and weighty for easy accessibility?

3030 AD looks pretty cool when drawn by Ribic

The story itself is exciting and interesting but I don’t know if it’s the great “jumping on” point they’re calling it. The issue has that sci-fi feeling that has been seen throughout the series and I don’t think that’s really the way to get more folks to check out this book. A lot of folks would like to see Earth’s Mightiest Heroes dealing with problems on Earth. It feels like this book was designed to only appeal to those that were already on board the Hickman train. Add in the overused plot devise of a “visitor from the Future” and it might not be the best way to attract new readers, especially considering how much time travel has been used in the Marvel Universe over the past year. Like I said, the story is interesting but it doesn’t feel all that inviting to those who haven’t already been following the series already. But that’s just my opinion. I recommend that you all check it out for yourselves and let me know what you think. It’s a fun read even if it is a bit heavy at times.

On a side note, there is one other book I would like to recommend from this past week’s crop of comics: The Saviors by James Robinson and J Bone for Image. The first issue introduces us to Tomas, a laid back, pothead slacker that works at a small gas station. Life is simple and good for him…..that is until he finds out that folks in town are getting replaced by shape shifting aliens that want to take over. With Bone’s signature style that evokes 50s comic strips and Robinson’s character driven storytelling style, this is a must read for any comics fan looking for some action and adventure with a bit of sci-fi that’s here on Earth.

If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!

Cap’s cleaning house with a few lines of dialogue…..that’s one way of doing it.