by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Mike Deodato (Artist), Frank Martin (Colorist)

The Story: Black Bolt reunites the Illuminati and reveals the existence and potential location of Thanos son. Meanwhile, Thanos and his Black Order makes their move.

The Review
: Last month, we were unfortunately the spectators of one of the downside of huge events: tie-ins that bring the story flow to a lesser quality. While the latest issue of New Avengers wasn’t terrible by any means, it was far off from the brilliance it could attain as Hickman made the conflict on Earth the sole focus as he set some stuff for his longer stakes. However, the Infinity train isn’t losing any steam as the story continues in this month’s issue. Can Hickman return to some of the better aspects of this series while juggling with the big event comic of his own?

As it turns out he can, as he manages to play with both the previously established elements while playing with the new ones, as the political and power plays with the Illuminati continues while Thanos and his Black Order brings chaos to Earth. Bringing the Illuminati back together instead of skipping from scenes to scenes with each of them, Hickman focus his narrative in a much more solid manner, as the interactions with each members is brought back to show the potential of this cast.

What has always been pretty great in this series is the characterization, which shows some of the darker, yet more necessary sides to some of these characters. With Black Bolt manipulating the others in order to buy some time, Namor being treacherous against Black Panther, Beast being still a voice of reason put in the context of a world at war with aliens, their decisions come forth as being big and of consequences.

The Black Order and Thanos are also quite memorable in their own way, as Thanos seems to be written just right, even though there are some very slight changes in his character. These changes are connected to the Black Order in question, who the readers get to know a bit more in this issue. While the idea of Thanos having lieutenants under him is perhaps questionable, it is written with enough gravitas and in line with how the characters plans to make it credible for the story in the long term.

Speaking of the story, Hickman makes a smart use of the time that pass between issue #2 and #3 of Infinity as he gives the readers more insight of Inhuman history, the son of Thanos, how the conflict on Earth is going and whatever happened to Doctor Strange as he faced the Ebony Maw. It is a plot-filled issue that really brings out some of the best aspects of this series, dealing with secret history, another world-incursion and the choices that some people must make for the greater good. Politics and backstabbing in the Marvel universe. Who knew it could be so interesting?

Of course, part of the interest comes from the tonally-fitting art of Mike Deodato. His heavy use of shadows combined with his clean lines really bring out the darker aspects of this issue. His characters are also very expressive in their poses and faces, although not all of them are perfects. There are some rare cases of goofy-looking faces in this issue, like Black Bolt in the first few pages, but overall the heaviness of the situation they are in can be clearly seen on the character’s face. What is close to being flawless, however, are the backgrounds. There is a level of craft and care that really brings the quality behind them to the forefront, as Deodato shows the richness and mystical aspect of the Marvel universe. The panelling is also quite good, keeping a nice flow without being too experimental for its own good. This is a solid effort from Deodato.

The colorization by Frank Martin is also excellent, as the same richness comes also from his work. While there is a strong tint of darkness that can be seen everywhere, which fits the tone of the book perfectly, there is also a varied palette that allows the readers to see something else than very deep and somber colors. The overly dark and cold colorization of Thanos scene clash a bit with the scenes following that include dark, yet very warm colors. It shows a dichotomy between the Black Order and the Illuminati that is interesting to see visually, which is an effect that is shown multiples times throughout the issue. Frank Martin is a great colorist and he shows it quite well in this issue.

The Conclusion
: By combining the previous elements of this series with the newer one brought by Infinity, Hickman shows how interesting a book featuring the Illuminati can be as Deodato and Martin makes some very solid effort artistically. A very nice read.

Grade: A-

-Hugo Robberts Larivière