by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Jerome Opena, Dustin Weaver (Artists), Justin Ponsor (Colorist)
The Story: It’s an Avengers universe, with plenty of planets declaring that those people from Earth are pretty okay in their book. On Earth, things gets a bit more dire though…
The Review: Jonathan Hickman sure do work in ways that are impressively different than other writers. While this could be said of anyone, as Bendis is surely very different than Brubaker and so on, there’s a certain way that Hickman builds concepts and how he use them that makes him the somewhat unique writer that he is. Ambitious is a word that could describe him, full of plans could work as well. However, he does have his share of problems as well, as no writers is perfect.
This issue of Infinity is a pretty complete package of what can make Hickman work or not for readers, as some of his best traits along his worst are on display here. With this being a big event comic, it makes only sense for things to get huge, meaning the analysis of the qualities and negative traits become that more obvious on the pages.
To start on a positive note, some of the concepts on display are simply awe-inspiring, with the ”Avengers World” idea presented at the very beginning of Hickman’s tenure on Avengers getting to a whole new level here. The very idea that the way humanity could be perceived on a universal scale throughout their actions in the war against the Builders is changing is a very sound one. The note on which the whole battle against the alephs ends, when looked upon with the strength of the theme and their presentation makes for a rather satisfying take on things.
Another satisfying element is how Hickman is able to converge most of his plot points together, as the threads weaved in both Avengers and New Avengers are put on the same track as the story is close to reaching its conclusion. The manipulations of the Illuminati, their machine to destroy invasive Earths, the galactic council, everything is coming together as they are put in place for something that promise to be massive.
Not everything here is great, though, as some of the weakness that plague some of Hickman’s work is also in this issue. It happens sometimes that the focus on larger concepts acts as a detriment to other elements like character work and other such things. The part focusing on the Avengers fighting against the Builders is full of memorable moments, yet there really isn’t a focus on how they perceive everything and any of the characters might react to anything. It set up the action and throw some fun stuff while the conflict simply end in order to move things along. The Illuminati scenes don’t suffer from this, but the first part could have used some characterization from some of its key characters.
The pacing is a bit off as well in some cases, the story and some of the important elements being somewhat rushed at times. The battle against the Builders seem almost pushed aside, considering how little we see of the action here. There are definitely good moments shown in the panels, but for the most part it ends rather quickly as the focus is put back to Thanos and Illuminati. For a conflict that was so large in its cosmic and epic scope, it’s a bit of a disappointment that it ends on such a note.
What isn’t a disappointment in any sense of the word is the art of Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver, with this issue being their last as Jim Cheung returns for the finale. Opena, on the more cosmic side of things, is really able to put the amazing concepts of the ”Avengers world” on a strong display, with a lot of panels showing the collaboration between various alien species and members of the Avengers. The scope and the weirdness is really strong here, with evocative characters that really put the ”super” in super heroes. The anatomy is good, the backgrounds filled with details, yet not so much that it becomes confusing and the small amount of action is downright entertaining. On his side of the issue, Opena does not disappoint.
Dustin Weaver is a different beast, however, as his characters are definitely well-done and his action is good-looking, yet he has some small weaknesses in this issue. The first of them is the fact that his pages and panels, some of them at least, are filled to the brim with details, which can make them look confusing in their own way. The focus is still put on important elements like the characters and the contraptions that push the story forward, yet there is still too much in some pages. The panel layout may be one of the reasons why it ends up being like this, as while it is innovative and do keep the plot moving forward with a good narrative flow, some of the panels simply don’t allow the large amount of elements shown to the readers. Still, there are plenty of moments where the balance between backgrounds and important elements is almost pitch-perfect, which do make those other panels a bit dismaying.
The colorization of Justin Ponsor is really good, though, as he is able to bring a sense of uniformity to the issue while the strength of both artists are enhanced by his work. He is able to use a technique in two very different ways in terms of colorization, with the Avengers scene featuring wild and alien colors to contrast with the more normalized humans, while the Illuminati scenes do the opposite, with the Illuminati and Thanos being much different than the Earthly backgrounds they are set in. It’s a strong technique that really do divide the issue in two without creating a clash between the two in terms of tone.
The Conclusion: There may be some minor problems with the art here and there as well as in the execution of some of the themes, but there’s no denying that the entire package by the creative team of Hickman, Opena, Weaver and Ponsor is exciting and entertaining in the best of ways. A bit flawed, but still a ton of fun.
-Hugo Robberts Larivière