Starbrand featured in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, and when Jason Aaron dips back to his Avengers of a million years ago Starbrand is among them, yet hasn’t been seen in the present day. That’s rectified in Starbrand Reborn, which opens with a look at the character a million years in the past, a strange crashing together of same sex relationships with the Biblical story about the Garden of Eden. There will be plenty of older Hulk fans keen to see Dale Keown’s art, though.

Aaron teased the Avengers heading out into space during War of the Realms, and then ignored it during Challenge of the Ghost Riders. Here, the opening chapter of a four part story takes them to the distressing situation revealed there, some of it seen on Ed McGuinness’ bombastic sample art. Transformation is the theme, not just affecting Thor, but several other Avengers to a greater or lesser degree, and Aaron lets much of the set-up slip by off panel. Unlike the frustrations of using that narrative device earlier, it’s a method of moving things forward quickly, as having already shown what happens, what’s the need of showing how?

This is a lot of fun. The transformations are accompanied by guest stars and some moralising about balancing the value of a single life against the life of a planet. Various powerful entities fear the rebirth of the Starbrand, seen as a galactic threat rather than a possible force for good, so therefore best prevented at birth, while the Avengers have too many problems of their own to do much about it. There’s also movement on the idea of Avengers a million years in the past as Tony Stark has now been transported back there.

McGuinness is in his element with the energy of a dozen incredibly powerful beings battering each other, and other artists follow his lead, so everything looks good, and Aaron brings things full circle with another Biblical reference. Some elements are fudged toward the end, Thor’s situation rapidly resolved, but Starbrand Reborn is surprising and entertaining, and that’s what we want from the Avengers. Moon Knight turns up for The Age of Khonshu next.