The multiverse is under attack (again), and, in this week’s Avengers Forever #1, it’s up to Robbie Reyes to assemble a team to protect it.
Avengers Forever (not to be confused with the similar Avengers: Forever) is a spinoff of Jason Aaron’s Avengers run, specifically continuing a plot thread that began in last month’s milestone 750th issue. After an interdimensional Deathlok appears and whisks Ghost Rider/Robbie Reyes away with it, they soon find themselves on the dystopian Earth-818, a world where hope and optimism died in its infancy. (As seen in Avengers #50, this was the doing of the multiversal Masters of Evil, led by Doom Supreme to eradicate the multiverse of its heroes.) They quickly experience Earth-818’s brutality for itself, but little do they know: there are heroes on this Earth. They’re just flops at being heroes.
I’m a sucker for multiverse stuff in superhero fiction (which means I’m in hog heaven with the MCU’s current fixation on this concept), but I realize that some people struggle with it, which makes Avengers Forever #1 a challenging proposal. As is the case with offshoots that are part of larger runs and aren’t technically standalone, this issue assumes you’ve read not just Avengers #50 but Aaron’s entire run up until now. I’ve read most of it, and even I found myself getting a little confused as I worked through the issue. This prompted me to go back and catch up on what I’ve missed. While I don’t mind doing a little bit of homework, not everybody is the same way, so I can see this issue turning people off if they’re going in cold. (Some people had a similar issue with the What If cartoon requiring knowledge of the movies each episode was based on, not to mention the steady serialization of its overarching plot.)
On its own merits, though, Avengers Forever #1 is a fun read. We’re initially introduced to the Tony Stark of Earth-818, who is this world’s version of Ant-Man, and later come to meet the symbiote-pumped Black Skull, who seems to be the main baddie of this first arc. I still don’t know if this issue really works as a first chapter of the series when so much of the context is set up in another series–such is the trouble with interconnected shared universes. I think Aaron’s story here has potential, but I’d have to check back in later to see how it’s developing. I’m always here for a universe-hopping superhero saga (RIP, Exiles) but with this one being so indebted to its parent series, it’s hard to say what its long-term prospects are. I’m also very fascinated by Aaron’s idea to put Robbie at the helm of a multiversal Avengers roster–an unexpected choice to be sure, but I’m willing to see where it goes. And, at the very least, this issue is led by Aaron Kuder’s frenetic and sketchy art, which is definitely one thing in its favor.