Jonathan Hickman is all about the long game. Looking at his amazing Fantastic Four run, it’s easy to see how little seeds planted early on eventually grow into tremendous moments. With this in the forefront of my mind, I knew what I was getting myself into with Marvel NOW!’s new Hickman penned Avenger book. Though it’s companion book, New Avengers, was more entertaining on a monthly basis, both titles culminated in Marvel’s newest summer event book, Infinity. Unlike nearly every event before it, Infinity and Hickman has done everything right.
The double shipping Avengers book had been facing a threat since it launched, the Builders, alien beings who create and destroy worlds. There was a big to do about evolution and creation in the year leading up to Infinity. Honestly, it was a difficult read and lost my attention on many occasions. While I’m sure it reads better collected, it was hard to keep up with the dense material 22 pages at a time. The Builders finally went into action, destroying worlds that didn’t fit their design. The Avengers joined the Shi’ar, Kree, and Skull forces to head off this threat, leaving Earth undefended.
The Illuminati (Iron Man, Beast, Dr. Strange. Black Panther, Namor, Black Bolt, and Reed Richards), were some of the few heroes left on Earth. Thanos, who had been traversing the stars with his army, slaughtering his children, turned his attention to Earth. His last child was hidden amongst the Inhumans, and one of his outriders reported that all the Infinity Gems were hidden there as well. Thanos sent his Cull Obsidian, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, Supergiant, Black Dwarf, and Corvus Glaive (some of the best names ever) in search of the gems.
This effectively split the story in two. Each of the six issues, excluding the finale, told two stories, one of the war against the Builders and one of the battle on Earth. I didn’t care for most of the war in space, but then again I wasn’t enjoying the Builders story line either. While their straights appeared dire, there didn’t seem to be any drama; they fought, lost, and after Thor threw his hammer through one of them, they somehow won. I don’t understand what changed from the start of the war that they couldn’t have just done that to begin with. Everyone was fighting, just not hard enough?
Thanos’ invasion of Earth was the more exciting part. Each member of the Cull Obsidian was sent to the Illuminati at their homes (The Sanctum Santorum, Jean Grey School, Atlantis, etc.) looking for the gems while Thanos confronted Black Bolt, asking for an offering of the heads of every Inhuman child between the ages of 16 and 22. This was a ruse for Thanos to get access to his son, Thane, who was hidden in one of the many Inhuman tribes. Eventually Black Bolt and Thanos battled, with the latter becoming the victor. In the process, an explosion released the Terrigan Mists on Earth, activating latent Inhuman abilities among the general populous.
This bomb set up the new status quo for Marvel, Inhumanity, starting immediately after the event. While many event books are guilty of merely being prologue for the next big thing, Infinity felt different, mostly because the status changing event occurred in book 4, rather than as an epilogue to the series. Moreover, this triggered Thane’s abilities, which played an important role in the finale. Where as last year’s Avengers vs. X-Men was overly long and was mostly a means to take us from A to B, Infinity was the culmination of many plot lines, with the afterwards being collateral damage from the battle, not a tacked on afterthought.
Supplementing the story was both Hickman’s Avengers books, Avengers and New Avengers. While they did help to fill in some gaps and flesh out the story more, they weren’t needed to join the core title. Keeping on track to make this a well rounded event, the tie-in books outside of this were also limited. Many were released as specials. Nary a banner was seen outside of the core Avengers books. Infinity released while the X-Men had an event of their own, letting other stories continue uninterrupted.
Three artist tackled the book, Jerome Opena, Jim Cheung, and Dustin Weaver. Since each issue was broken down into chapters, the art changes were near seamless. The action was easy to follow with clear lines. Opena handled much of the early space war, though I wish he’d drawn more of the book. Cheung did an amazing job as the lead artist, turning in amazing work.
Overall Infinity was a great read that will be fun to dive into again once it’s collected with the two Avengers books. I’m interested see where Inhumanity will go, though I’m done with the Hickman’s Avengers book and have no interest in Avenger’s World. I will stay on New Avengers, I want to see where this incursion story will lead.
Did you care for one story line over another? Read any of the tie-ins or skip them? Comment below!
Thane, thon of Thanos!