By guest writer Zeno
Those who have been reading John Hickman’s Avengers for the last year have noticed there is a design at the beginning of most stories that represents a membership roster of the Avengers team. There has been speculation about this roster. Particularly who fills the missing circles.
This is the original roster circa issue 17. You will notice that is missing six positions. During the Infinity event four new member came on. They were Abyss,Ex Niho,NightMask,and Starbrand. The roster did not reappear until issue 24. If all the members mentioned were added we have four new members and two circles still missing. However the first two members mentioned above have left. That leaves us with only two new members. Therefore a new roster was designed which was smaller but still had two empty circles. Using this line of thought the new members would be Starbrand and Nightmask. If you look a the new roster this pattern fits.
New Universal Connection
The importance of the meaning of the roster can be understood if we remember that Hickman is using Warren Ellis’s version of the New Universe,called NewUniversal. We have seen this through the characters and mentioning of the “White Event”,in the early stories.Such a event leads to the creation of four different types of powered heroes. The
events of this series do not exactly fit this pattern. They are not all created at the same time as in those series. This is to be expected as it was said “The Machine is broken” so things are not going to work the same way. However two things the event has is the creation of a Starbrand and a Nightmask. Note the new roster differs from the old only in two new additions. These are NightMask and StarBrand. Both recipients of NewUniversal powers. Note there are two empty circles. It stands to reason that the missing to new characters are people who have NewUniversal powers. The two powers powers must correspond to the two missing circles. The two powers left are the Justice and Cipher.
Now finding out who posses these two powers will tell us who the new members are. The four powers are Starbrand, Nightmask,Justice,and Cipher. The Starbrand and Nightmask have appeared. To further emphasize the connection between them both characters are marked with the same glyph as their characters in did in NewUniversal. That means we are lacking a justice and cipher powered character. Who are they?
The Valdiator only appeared in Avengers 10. Yet I believe she is probably one of the new characters. The reasons are 1)LIke Starbrand she is somehow changed by the effects of the pod. 2) She talks in the language that NightMask and Starbrand talk. This is the machine language only they communicate in. Validator was changed somehow when she went to investigate the pod. What are abilities are is unclear but there is a intriguing hint at the last page of that issue. Validator says “Father,something amazing has happened here. We’ve made something and I am supposed to protect it.” This would imply that she has the cipher power. In NewUniversal,this is the power to talk to communicate with machines. That is would fit her statement of protecting it. Plus something happened to the equipment which may be because of her power over machines. Granted the quote could apply to the justice power but there is another better candidate for the justice power. We have not seen if she has a mark on her body either. So she could be playing another role. It still seems likely that regardless of her exact role,Hickman is planning on including her in his Avengers lineup.
The character who goes by the name X-23 is known as Laura Kinney. She is a female clone of Wolverine. She has a history with the Captain Universe force which goes back to the Captain Universe/X-23 issue. This was the third issue of the 2005 Captain Universe series. In this issue AIM was experimenting with the Captain Universe force. X-23 is given the power to stop AIM from using the power for it’s won benefit. She teams up with Scorpion,the female agent who may Bruce Banner’s daughter. And prevents it. Afterwards it the Captain Universe force leaves her. It seems however that it had other plans. In the first story arch of her own she finds herself haunted by dreams. During the conclusion of the story a force promises to help her. She reappears with a sign on her hand. While the sign on her hand is not the same as the one that represents justice,it still chose someone who was a trained assassin. It would only be fitting for a agent of vengeance. In a later story called Chaos Theory,we see the Whtirldemon king is going to escape from the micro verse to take over Earth. The Enigima Force summons a group of people who have been contact with it in the past. They include the Invisible Woman,Spider-man,and of course X-23. The only one who still can and does harness the power is X-23. She becomes part of the Captain Universe force and defeats Whirldemon King to prevent him from escaping. This is further evidence that she is the new avatar of justice. It seems our final member of Avengers will be X-23. There is one problem with this theory about her. The symbol she has on her hand is not the lightning bolt symbol,which Justice has in New Universal. She has yet to appear in any of Hickman’s stories either. Both of these points could make this analysis wrong. However both other previous role,the fact that she has a glyph mark,and the fact that has become Captain Universe twice are strong evidence in favor of her.
This is a paper of speculation. It could be wrong. They are merely guesses. Perhaps the readers have seen something that suggests someone else. Any thoughts or criticisms are appreciated.