by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan (Artists), David Curiel (Colorist)

The Story: Captain America may have found a new strategy in order to deal with the Builders as Ex Nihilo goes on to see just what is going on with his people.

The Review
: From what we’ve seen so far, Hickman seems to have rejuvenated this title with Infinity, his big event that ironically enough was build up from pieces introduced in this very title. With a much more focused plot and very clear stakes at play, the strengths came to the forefront that much easier, but with the story moving forward with almost every week of the month, does the book continue to be relevant to the event while keeping its own plotline and a modicum of quality?

So far, so good from what can be seen, as many of the plotlines and characters introduced in this title continue. Many of the threads are played with here quite aptly, with some of them moving the story forward in ways that really do bring surprising twists. One of them would be the scenes featuring Ex Nihilo, a character created by Hickman especially for this series, who deals with the Builders. For quite a long time, the motivations of the Builders to destroy and kill around the whole cosmos was pretty vague, much to the event discredit. In this issue, though, we do get an evolution and some explanations as to the problems that plagues creators that are turning into destroyers and killers. It is a fascinating development that makes this conflict a bit more interesting and that promises to make it even more so in the upcoming issues.

What’s also handled with care and gravitas would be the Galactic Council and how they are trying to pursue this whole conflict. The decisions, the in-fighting and how Captain America is portrayed makes for a rather suspenseful read that put the readers right into an impossibly large conflict. There are twists and a good use of those featured in the main event book without letting it lessen the impact of this book. It’s a neat use of the event, which is central to the book, without destroying the importance and the ongoing subplots of the book. It maintains its identity while it adds up to the whole experience.

Part of its identity is the unfortunate fact that most of the Avengers take a back seat in this issue, which is a sad continuation for this title. Still, most of the players here are interesting and do provide their own unique voice to the issue, with Captain America being the leader and strategist, the Galactic Council featuring favourites like Gladiator and Kl’rt and those on Hala, like Supreme Intelligence and Ronan. It’s a cosmic tapestry that features some of the Avengers, yet unfortunately not all of them. There is a scene that features the captive group that gets rescued in the third issue of the event book, yet the rest of the book is mostly dedicated to Captain America and Ex Nihilo. They are interesting enough, to be sure, yet it always feels like a missed opportunity to see such a large roster for this team, yet so little of them being actually used.

If there’s perhaps some people who are clearly being used correctly by Hickman, though, it’s Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan. As the artistic team behind this issue, they truly are able to convey the weirdness and depth of the cosmic corner of the Marvel universe. The spaceship aesthetics, the alien technology, the planets, the stars and everything that permeates the backgrounds are superbly rendered, allowing the scope of the tale being told to realize its potential. The aliens are also quite well-done, with their designs being adapted quite well, with the numerous Builders being interesting variations on the same pattern. There are, though, some characters that aren’t done as well as the others, though, with the Supreme Intelligence, the Aleph and the Builder on Hala being a tad too complex for their own good. There are either too many lines or not enough on those characters, making them look a bit jumbled at times, which doesn’t help them being expressive or simply pretty to look at. Still, the rest of the cast is done quite well, be they humans or aliens, which goes to Yu and Alaguilan’s credit.

Replacing Sunny Gho as the colorist is David Curiel, who does the job quite well, despite some lacking spots here and there. Although, there are some spots where the color diversity could have been amped up a bit, there’s no question that there is no color disparity or negative clash in this issue. Where Curiel really shines, though, is in the Ex Nihilo scene, the ”Without Judges We Are Lost” first two pages are splendid, with a huge focus on cold colors with huge luminous effects, setting some kind of collaboration with the depths of the panels and the colorization to really enhance the cosmic vibe of the whole scene. The rest of the issue is solid enough, though, as there is a very rich and diverse palette that allows a huge number of contrast, which is how colorization makes most of its effect actually work.

The Conclusion: With the space opera themes going on in this title with the Infinity event continuing, this title is really bringing the conflict with the Builders to the forefront thanks to the interesting development and characters Hickman is bringing. A great showcase of Hickman, Yu, Alanguilan and Curiel talents.

Grade: B+

Hugo Robberts Larivière