A collection of beings that are responsible for the creation of much of the life in the galaxy are making a B-line for Earth, because as a species we may yet lead to the destruction of everything, and they’re destroying every civilization in their way; so a large group of Avengers head into space to help the major empires bring down the armada. At the same time Earth has found itself the fulcrum of a multiversal collapse, a massive problem that the Illuminati Avengers team are trying to wrestle with. Amidst this seemingly insurmountable chaos the tyrannical Thanos has decided that now would be the best time to invade Earth to find something he has been seeking for a very long time, something of which the Inhumans may know more about than they’re willing to share.
So, that is a very long nutshell explanation of what seems to be a very complex Marvel ‘event’, and it is; so complex in fact that jumping right in at the beginning of the event would cause a reader to be playing catch-up for the majority of the story; no, this is but a continuation of the events that have built up in Jonathan Hickman’s run on both core Avengers books to date, and this ‘event’ is for the readers of those books. In an ideal world Marvel would’ve confined this massive epic to said books, but moneymaking being what it is an ‘event’ was made of it, and further, it leads into another mini-event that will be known as Inhumanity. It leaves a cynically bitter taste in the mouth but the exponential increase of ‘events’ have been debated on many forums and I’m sure we all have an opinion thereon, so the rest of this review shall forgo that debate in favour of judging the story on its own merits.
As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, I believe Jonathan Hickman to be a contemporary master of the sci-fi form and his run on the Avengers so far has only solidified this stance, perhaps even topping his Fantastic Four run for sheer spectacle and scale. This run on Avengers and New Avengers must be read before delving into Infinity, but you won’t be sorry about the fact. Infinity itself takes what would ordinarily have been three (maybe even four) ‘event’ worthy stories and serves them up as one truly epic story that sees the expanded Avengers team fighting battles on multiple fronts, physically, geographically and intellectually.
On the one front Marvel’s Illuminati team, a collection of immense intellects and rulers, find that our Earth’s survival of an incursion of the multivers is only survivable by destroying other Earths, a problem that only they know about and only they can do something about, but are they willing to become monsters to save our planet? On the second front is a more tried and tested ‘event’ happening, which is a Thanos led invasion of Earth, and he, along with his badass generals, are willing to lay the planet to waste if Black Bolt, the king of the Inhumans, doesn’t give him the sacrifice he desires, which could lead to untold deaths. On the even more epic third front the majority of the Avengers fight as part of one of the biggest and most prolonged space wars you’ve ever witnessed.
It boggles the mind to consider how Hickman actually kept track of such an ambitious undertaking, it truly feels like a first in mainstream comics, despite its under-appreciation by some fans, but unlike Marvel’s other ‘event’ of the season, the X-Men based Battle of the Atom, character, power-sets, motivations and contextual logic have all remained consistent, which stabilises and grounds this massive and exciting story in to some form of believability.
It does have its rough edges though. Infinity is compressed storytelling to the max, which is generally a good thing, twice as many books could have been used to tell this story, unfortunately, because they weren’t, the space war section of the story often felt purposefully sketchy and rapid, depending heavily on narration, which in itself wouldn’t have been so bad, the excellent Image book, Prophet, uses a similar style of storytelling and it works a treat, but put next to the more traditionally told storylines it doesn’t quite gel, and that besides in its haste to conclude the stories within the requisite timeframe, the resolutions are a little anti-climactic.
On pencilling duties of the two ongoing Avengers books and connecting Infinity books that made up the series was the impressive line-up of Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña, Dustin Weaver, Leinil Francis Yu and Mike Deodato, with Cheung and Opeña standing out as particularly outstanding. Yu looked to be rushing it slightly in the later issues of Avengers, but it must be said that Yu on a bad day is better than 90% of artists on their best day, so…
Infinity is a ridiculously gigantic storyline that deserves attention and a longer shelf life than most other events of the last decade, it’s pacing is a little off, but there’s excitement, intelligence, heroics, moral ambiguity, double crossing, tragedy, badassery, touching moments, war, war and more war. The tie-in books, ongoing and otherwise needn’t be worried about as they progress the main stories not at all, so save your money.
B+ grade – for originality
B+ grade – for storytelling
B grade – for pacing
A+ grade – for scale
A- grade – for artwork
Overall grade – B+