by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Dustin Weaver, Jerome Opena (Artists), Justin Ponsor (Colorist)
The Story: After the attack of the Builders, Captain America decides he’s had enough. All the while, Black Bolt gives a definitive answer to Thanos about the tribute question.
The Review: Things gets dire before they get better. This is something that writers knows very well to do, as tension and drama adds much more to a story instead of an even-level or smaller happenstances. Considering the cyclical nature of most stories in our general culture and how superheroes comics really do stick out in terms of cycle, it rings even more true when it comes to events.
In the tie-ins and the main book, the war against the Builders and the arrival of Thanos on Earth had not exactly been without any struggle for our heroes, which built up the importance and the level of the conflicts rather sharply, which is good when it comes to event comics. However, something that many writers try to accomplish, with varying results, would be something I’d like to call the ”Oh snap!” moments. Those scenes are usually the result of build up, resulting in the payoff being immensely surprising or satisfying to the readers. While those moments are subjective to the readers, there are perhaps two of such moments that could very well be established as such in this issue alone.
However, to arrive at those moments of pure super heroic pleasure, Jonathan Hickman makes good use of the two fronts he has established with both of his titles. This time, the issue is divided exactly in two, with one portion completely devoted to the Builders cosmic war and the second half delegated to the Earth, with special devotion to the Inhuman side of the conflict. The pacing for both of those scenes is especially well done, as the comic has a forward momentum that never allows it to spin its wheel incessantly. There is a good balance between exposition, narration, development and action that do bring out the grandeur of this tale that unfolded in the pages of both Avengers and New Avengers.
On its own, the side focusing on the Galactic Council and the Avengers battle against the builders is solid, preparing for a counter-attack against those decidedly enigmatic enemies. While the fact that the motivations and the origins of the Builders still aren’t explained comes as rather annoying considering the fact that the story just reached its half-point with this issue, Hickman do make it up for it thanks to the renewed action.
The action is grandiose here as the stakes gets even higher, with most of the players giving some memorable scenes. The comeback from the Avengers is also quite welcome, because as much as some of the readers might love some of the cosmic characters like Kl’rt and Gladiator, it is a story focusing on this group mostly. One of the lesser aspect of this part, though, is the rather simplistic turn of events and the plan that allows it to be effective. Captain America’s plan is so simple, it seems a bit like a wonder why the Galactic Council didn’t think about it before. Still, as much as this lessen the effect, this part of the story is still exciting enough to provide plenty of entertainment for cosmic fans and event fans alike.
The other part focus lightly on what happens on Earth as all of this rages on, with Hickman acknowledging the fact that there are tie-ins, with the Thunderbolts and Mighty Avengers showing in the pages of the issue. The real meat of this second half is with the Inhumans, particularly Black Bolt, as the confrontation between the silent king and Thanos comes in this page. Hickman had smartly put Thanos on the side for a good portion of the event, foreshadowing the actual implication of the mad titan for later.
Using him now, Hickman provide the character with a voice that match the solid story behind the character. His dialogue is minimal, yet it does have its advantages as it correspond to the situation quite aptly. If there is a weakness on this side of the story, it would be the fact that beside the smaller actions by Maximus and the huge action by Black Bolt (which gives one of the aforementioned ”Oh snap!” moments), nothing much happens here when compared to the first half. Still, with some huge ramification and an absurdly potent final page, it is still satisfactory in term of storytelling.
Of course, most of those moments would have half the impact if not for the talent of both Dustin Weaver and Jerome Opena, who really do bring out the best and larger concepts on the page. With Opena focusing on the cosmic side of the equation, the ships, characters and the general action and cosmic vibes of the settings are not only delightful to look at, but also befitting in scopes with the script. Drawing aliens, robots and humans with as much care as anything that he does, Opena proves that he is indeed an A-list artist with his effort on this issue. The sole weakness of his in this issue, though, are his facial expressions, as most characters seem to be rather static in this regard. Their expressions are evocative, yet it seems like they are a bit frozen and similar between each panels. Dustin Weaver is great too, as the technological backgrounds and the alien-like architecture of the Inhumans are done quite well. His faces and poses are also very precise and convey very well the thoughts behind the characters, with Maximus being crazy, yet also a bit stressful and Black Bolt being rather angry about Thanos arrival. Dustin Weaver is close to the top of his game here, which only helps to heighten some of the best moments in this issue.
The colorization by Justin Ponsor do help in this regard as well, as his rich palette and the high diversity in display brings some of the majestic backgrounds of space in contrast with the high-exploding action that surround the team in space. Likewise, the cold colorization and dark tones at the arrival of Thanos on Attilan really do serve the scene well, which comes with a rather striking and big disparity with the last couple of pages. Ponsor manage to make all of these effects mesh together and bring the styles of Opena and Weaver together quite well, which is very commendable of his talent.
The Conclusion: Despite some minor quibbles here and there, the action, development and some of the character moments on display here give us readers a reason to continue hoping for a great even comic. If Hickman, Weaver, Opena and Ponsor can continue delivering issues like this one, Infinity could turn out to be very memorable indeed.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière