Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Jerome Opeña, Dustin Weaver (Artists), Justin Ponsor (Colorist)
The Story: Things heat up as Corvus Glaive wants to claim a tribute from the Inhumans and the Avengers are off with the rest of the Universe against the Builders.
The Review: Cautious optimism is an attitude that many readers learn to have when dealing with a great many things. Sometimes, despite the fact that many elements are lining up together in a way that feels too good to be true, it is normal to have some kind of defensive mechanism against too much hype. This kind of position is one that is very connected to event comics, as those type of stories are usually much hyper, with key sentences like ”nothing will ever be the same again” or ”this will have key repercussions across the whole line and the future of the shared universe”. With so many events failing to actually live up to their potential, it seems normal to adapt our desires to being a bit disappointed, as many events begins on a strong note only to falter in its own conclusion as each chapters reveals flaws that just kill the hype for its readers.
By having this attitude, a reader can also receive something that is not the norm to see, yet is always utterly pleasant when it arrives: surprise. This issue of Infinity definitely fits that very description, as the strong, yet mysterious direction does serve the story and the themes quite well. As the two fronts are given some attention, both of them receive either a ton of action and emotions, while the other receive mystery and revelations that really do make for two distinct stories that never really clash against each other.
The first angle being covered is the one on Earth, as Thanos and his Black Order are invading and seeding chaos everywhere they can. Opening up with a scene featuring Abigail Brand and Sydren of S.W.O.R.D., the comic swiftly switches to the Inhumans, then finishes up with the Illuminati. The second angle, all the while, features the Avengers and the Shi’ar with favourites like Mento and Gladiator fighting against the Builders. If there’s one thing that Hickman is doing right in this event so far, it’s selling the point that this is a story encompassing the Marvel universe, with a special emphasis on the universe part.
Playing with a lot of toy in the toy box, he brings home the fact that there are much more characters than simply those in the Avengers that are worthy of attention, yet never really steal the spotlight from these characters. The division between the two angles is done quite right as they receive an equivalent part of the whole issue and development.
Speaking of development, Hickman seems to know very well that the actual event is six issues long, as he does not mess around with his pacing, delivering on each scenes the right amount of action, exposition, dialogue and revelations in order to bring a great amount of story to this event. There is no decompression here as the stakes gets clearer, the action big and the characters become memorable. The readers gets to know what the tribute is, the secret behind Thanos and his incursion on Earth, how the team in space gets their first victory and so forth. It is decidedly not an empty issue.
The characterization is decidedly worthy of praise too, as Hickman plays well with some favourites, with the proud and mighty Gladiator, the scheming Maximus, the noble yet silent Black Bolt and many more receive great respect in how they were written before. Many of the interactions between these characters becomes very memorable quickly, some of them with but some lines of dialogues and some actions from their part. Let’s just say that those who had loved some of the more cosmic stories of the past shall be enormously pleased in some aspects.
What’s perhaps a bit less pleasant, albeit not-so that it destroys the whole issue is the fact that the event continues right after the tie-ins also written by Hickman himself. While those who do follow both Avengers and New Avengers shall find nothing to complain about, those who do not may feel slightly confused. There are some recaps in the earlier pages of the issue and the characters do try to explain what just happened in a concise manner, yet it does seem a bit disappointing to see that to really get the whole experience, people may have to read those issues as well as the actual event book.
Something I shall never connect with the word ”disappointing”, however, would be the art. Being the artist right after Jim Cheung, both Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver continue the story, sharing the cosmic and Earth side respectively in that order. Working very well together, both artists have a style that visually complement each other, never creating a dichotomy of vision that brings the whole thing down. Both are able to draw massive events, with Opeña bringing in the endless depth of space, featuring spaceships as well as alien species and environment, while Weaver brings the architecture of the Inhumans and the chaos on Earth wonderfully as well. They go big here and it is simply marvellous to see, as the whole scope of the event is visible and it is quite massive.
The colorization of Justin Ponsor does work in that respect too, as the explosions, alien beings, powers are just as well done as are the darker aspects of the issue featuring Corvus Glaive and the Inhumans. He is able to bring the high-octane colorization full of warm and bright colors with the political and downright dark moments in tandem, realizing a unification of the whole issue even though the two styles of scenes should not mesh together so well. This take skills, which Ponsor does possess in spades.
The Conclusion: Continuing the action and the themes brought by the first issue wonderfully, Hickman continues his event comic without a hitch as the cosmic and darker aspects of the script are rendered beautifully by both Opeña and Weaver. A worthy continuation of the superb first issue.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière
*Just to make sure people know, there is no Silver Surfer tale attached to this one, much to my disappointment.