by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan (Artists), Sunny Gho (Colorist)

The Story: Captain Marvel is captured by the builders as the Avengers and the Galactic Council rest after their battle, tending to their wounded. All the while, a traitor is in their midst…

The Review: It’s an usual and unfortunate thing that event comics drag some other titles in their large plot. It doesn’t always mean it’s a bad thing, but plenty of titles have seen their momentum being a bit lost as several elements of a story that isn’t integral to their own plot and subplots gets shoved in the way. This can destroy the flow and sometime even mean that the readers shall suffer through some plug-ins of other characters and elements alien to their book, which makes it much less enjoyable for those that don’t want anything from those events to begin with.
There are also those that are integral to the story structure, those that actually add something to the whole event or use them in ways that feel organic to the whole narrative. Those are rare, to be sure, but much appreciated, like Journey Into Mystery for Matt Fraction’s Fear Itself or Guardians of the Galaxy for War of Kings. Instead of having to contend with these elements, those stories included them naturally, making them that much stronger for the duration of the event.

What Jonathan Hickman has done with Avengers is even more rare, as he has built up a whole lot of plot points and conflicts throughout his tenure on the title, resulting in an event comics, Infinity. The event, having its own book, is split up in two fronts which are covered by the same author with each of them being in one of the two books. This has caused the main Avengers book to receive a much-needed shot in the arm after what was basically seventeen issues of foreshadowing as Hickman shows full cosmic actions in this title.

Continuing where the last issues of Avengers and Infinity left off, the team is divided in two as those with Captain Marvel are in captivity while the rest are with the Galactic Council. While the comic switch from two perspectives, it juggles very well with both plots at it manage to connect the two together. The pacing is good as there are multiple events in this comic, with many great development brought to the forefront as well as some good character moments.

While the latest issue was much-less focused on the Avengers and more on the whole universe in the conflict, Hickman brings the Earth-based heroes to the forefront to great result, making them instrumental as point-of-views for the readers and as capital players in the conflict at hand. Carol Danvers, Steve Rogers, Ex Nihilo each plays a big role in the story, which do help in putting the scope in place in terms of scales in this particularly big conflict. Some of the other Avengers are nothing more than window-dressing, which has been a problem in this series, but otherwise, the Avengers make their presence felt in the story.

Another thing that Hickman uses very neatly in this story is the Galactic Council, a concept created by Bendis, but brought much better in this story. The interactions between the various empires and civilizations of the Marvel universe makes for some really great military and political moments, which plays to the strength of Jonathan Hickman. Betrayals, grand scale politics, strategies, everything is here to make sure there is a gravitas around the situation the whole universe is in. Touches like J-Son dismissal of Earth or the Supreme Intelligence giving quite a lot of credits to the Avengers are also nice touches that do make it so continuity is also a bit respected, which is nice as the cosmic players are very interesting aspects of this tie-in so far.

An aspect that wasn’t so interesting before, though, were the Builders, the actual antagonist in one of the two fronts covered by Infinity. Being rather vague, they served their purpose well, but weren’t very interesting as a result. Hickman, however, through some key moments in this issue and some scenes with Ex Nihilo, provide a bit more information on how they work and what they think they are doing. While not everything is explained, there are some bribes of their proper motivations here that manage to make them much more interesting than they were previously. It’s a nice effort to actually provide information on the actual enemies here, creating an ominous sense of mystery to the whole race as a result.

Where the issue fails a bit, albeit in a minor way, would be the art. While the latest issue gave way to a big cosmic battle extravaganza, this one shows a whole lot of interactions and dialogue, which robs of the energy and the motions that Leinil Francis Yu is great at. While his characters and the up-close elements looks very good and some of the sci-fi designs are rather great-looking, the many elements in the backgrounds suffer a bit as a result, looking jumbled and rough. His poses are still evocative although some of the details in some character’s face lack in precision, which makes the expressivity of some characters a bit of a problem. Another thing he does, which is a rather subjective problem, is exploit the male gaze a good deal in some areas, especially with Carol Danvers and Ex Nihila. The way he draws their poses and body seems a bit over-exaggerated in their depiction of the feminine body-type and it does not really bring anything to the story beside what people would call a bit of ”fanservice”*. Still as it might, not everything is negative on the art front as the cosmic vibes from this issue are especially strong thanks to his panelling, his perspective and the numerous numbers of aliens that are well-designed.

Another thing that really do help the book artistically and thematically is the colorization of Sunny Gho, who really bring his A-game here. The abundance of warm colors in moments of danger, the juxtaposition of very cold and dull colors in the backgrounds to contrast with the characters in some pages and the high diversity in this book makes this story comes to life. The backgrounds in some places are especially beautiful in term of colors, as the depth of space combined with both the danger and wonders of the universe are conveyed nicely.

The Conclusion: There may be some rough and questionable spots in Yu’s art, but the colorization, the focus on the Avengers, the Builders and the Galactic Council makes this issue a very satisfying read nonetheless, which really enhance the whole picture that is Infinity.

Grade: B+

-Hugo Robberts Larivière

*Another thing that Leinil Francis Yu usually does in most of his work is include Howard the Duck, or at least anthropomorphic ducks in the background, which he does in this issue. However, on the contrary to the fanservice debacle, I’d say that gives him point just for keeping the character alive in some ways.