The news that makes me excited to start buying books issue by issue just keeps coming. First came the news that Jeff Parker, starting in October, will start writing Red She-Hulk as the main character of the Hulk books. Now comes word that Jonathan Hickman, known for writing long superhero arcs, is going to write The Avengers, and he tells Comic Book Resources that among his first concerns are making the team more diverse than the one we see on the big screen:
“The idea is that the Avengers have to get bigger,” Hickman told CBR. “That means bigger in every sense. That means the roster has to be bigger, and the missions have to be bigger, and the adversaries and scenarios they find themselves in have to be larger. I’ve played with this stuff a little bit over in the Ultimate Universe. Obviously, it’s a completely different weight class here, but in a lot of ways that’s the kind of velocity that the book should have. We (Tom Brevoort and I) also felt like that if the book was going to be about an Avengers world, it should look more like the world. Of course there are complications starting out when the necessary movie characters are five white dudes and a white lady, but, you know, bigger roster. Frankly, I’m really, really excited at how we address that. The lineup is killer.”
That’s not just good news for people who are dying to see some of their favorite superheroes get some more attention, or who feel frustrated by the whiteness of the big-screen Avengers lineup. It’s a way of mixing up Marvel’s franchise storytelling. It would have been supremely easy, given the vast success of the movies, for Marvel to concentrate the Avengers comic storytelling very tightly on the same set of characters. But Hickman said in the same interview that he intends to let the movie characters’ storylines play out in the books devoted to them and use The Avengers to tell individual stories about the heroes he’ll add to the team and about how those heroes interact in small groups. That means less homogenized storytelling. It means that if fans of the movies who come to the comics for the first time, they may have a chance to get invested in an entirely new set of characters. And Marvel may have a chance to build a constituency for an excitement for about characters they weren’t brave enough to make Avengers the first time around.