AVENGERS #4 is another installment dealing with the Celestials. While the plot has a lot going on, the characterization and artwork in this issue are quite strong. Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness clearly put a lot of heart into this comic book.
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Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness continue their celestial epic in AVENGERS #4. In this issue, Odin takes over narration duties and gives us more background about his encounter with the Celestials. Between this narration, the Avengers are actively fulfilling their specific duty to help stop the Celestial takeover. Aaron does a great job balancing each Avenger’s role, and McGuinness’ art really starts to take on a life of its own. While this story at times goes a bit over its head, AVENGERS #4 is another fine installment in the series.

You Need to do Some Research

While reading AVENGERS #4, I found myself a bit confused in the beginning. I needed to go back and skim over the previous issue to remember exactly why Thor and She-Hulk were visiting Odin; I also needed to remember why Ghost Rider was heading to the North Pole by himself. A bit of Googling was also required with the Eternals, as Iron Man and Doctor Strange arrive at their headquarters in Olympia.

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

Tony Stark gives decent background information as he explains the connection between the Eternals and Celestials. This is good writing by Aaron. It feels natural to see Tony dominating the conversation. In this talk, he goes on to explain the Eternals believed that they themselves were created by the Celestials. This explanation comes about because all but one Eternal is dead. Only Ikaris is alive to vaguely tell Tony that “only the Unimind can stop [the Celestials].”

This scene is smooth, but it left me wondering how important it is to know who the Eternals are. One can argue a good story leaves you wanting more, so perhaps I’ll go digging through back issues to read up more on these mysterious Marvel characters.

It’s All About Teamwork

What I like about Aaron’s story thus far is how he pairs up his heroes. In this issue, you’ve got Black Panther and Captain Marvel (previous Ultimates teammates) researching the bugs (now known as the Horde: they’re enemies of the Celestials, apparently) that have been emerging from the center of the Earth. You’ve also got She-Hulk and Thor getting as much information out of Odin as possible, and you’ve Iron Man and Doctor Strange teaming up in a much calmer fashion than AVENGERS INFINITY WAR. And, based off of the cover of AVENGERS #5, it appears Ghost Rider will be saving Captain America from the North Pole. These pairings make for good team building and characterization, and in a book like AVENGERS, that’s key.

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But while I’m loving the characterization, the plot in AVENGERS #4 feels all over the place. Aaron and McGuinness are being ambitious with this series. This is a story I’d expect deep into an AVENGERS run, not a first arc for a new team right after an AVENGERS movie recently dropped. I can’t imagine new fans latching onto this story, even though for many old fans it’s something fresh and intriguing. I’m certainly interested in the Celestials, especially after recently reading INFINITY GAUNTLET and Al Ewing’s ULTIMATES I and II. When talking about the Celestials in AVENGERS #4, Odin talks about a first host and final host: how deeply layered is this invasion?

The Artwork of AVENGERS #4

Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment

With all of these questions, it’s nice that the artwork is there to support it all. Ed McGuinness’ drawings get better with each AVENGERS issue. I remember not really enjoying it too much in the first installment of the series. However, now I feel like I’m starting to get it. I love his depiction of Black Panther and Ghost Rider. Their costume designs are sleek and modern. This is something I can appreciate an artist doing to make a story his or her own. And, as stated in a previous review, McGuinness’ Celestial designs are very compelling and menacing.

Of course, David Curiel’s coloring assists these drawings. The hues continue to pop on every page, and the way he differentiates his characters from each other by giving them such sleek colors makes a big difference. His mark on AVENGERS will be remembered for many years to come, considering the work he did with “No Surrender.”

An Overall Ambitious Ride

AVENGERS #4 may overreach at times and require certain background readings, but it’s a hell of a ride. I’m eager for issue #5 to come out in two weeks. I can’t help but wonder what the North Pole scene will be like with Ghost Rider and Captain America. I’m also curious who will take over narration duties this time. This narration tradeoff has been going on since “No Surrender.” I’m especially liking that Aaron is continuing that trend in his own story arc.

Are the Eternals really dead? How scary will the final host be? How much more background will Odin give us about the first host? Hopefully, all of these questions are answered in the next issue or two!

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