It’s my concerted opinion that filler issues aren’t inherently bad, but should still be relevant and entertaining, and Jonathan Hickman seems to also hold this view. After an expectations-shattering Infinity, Avengers #22 is much more focused on letting us take a look at some of the interpersonal drama taking place behind the scenes in the wake of the battle with the Builders, as well as the preparations to take back Earth. There are some intriguing developments from some of the newest B-tiers who’ve been glimpsed in the background of this expansive event, most notably Smasher, Sunspot and Cannonball. By the end, I’m personally salivating to see the Avengers (et al) make their triumphant return to Earth.
Leinil Yu continues to be an absolute force on the pencils of this title, showing readers an incredible level of versatility. I’ve said before how he’s amazing on more grounded titles where his brand of jagged, sketchy lines show a kind of grit and nuance, but between Secret Invasion and this, it’s clear that he can do cosmic just as well as he can do street-level. Some of that credit must also go to the the thick, defined inks of Gerry Alanguilan and the rich, dark colors of Sunny Gho and David Curiel, giving those pencils incredible verve and definition.
There are a few parts of this story that jump forward a little too jarringly. A scene on Titan specifically where a forward team takes out a small cadre of Thanos’ minions, but the methodology behind their attack leaps from one panel to the next, giving a great sense of speed and surprise, but basically no context as to what actually just happened. I’m also always happy to see some of the lesser known heroes take center stage, the problem with them being in their all-new, all-cosmic powers is that they’re not immediately recognizable and they’re never identified outside of the chart at the beginning fo this issue, which is helpful, but there's also something to be said for not having to jump back and forth to be reminded of what characters names are. This leads to some very naturalistic dialog, but unfortunately also lacks context, particularly for some of the more personal moments.
This issue is probably the first that I’d say is truly “skippable,” and unfortunately, that applies to either readers of the Infinity series or Avengers (something Hickman has been great at differentiating), but that doesn’t mean it’s bad by any stretch. In fact, I’d say that it SHOULDN’T be skipped as there are some great character moments, but it’s less intrinsic to the overall plot of either title than previous issues have been. That said, if you already get the book or have four bucks to spare in your comic budget, by all means pick this one up. It may not be required reading, but it’s well worth the extra credit.