*of course, huge spoilers ahead*
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencilled by Leinel Francis Yu
Inked by Gerry Alanguilan
Coloured by Sunny Gho
Cover by Yu and Laura Martin
Dated October 2013
Infinity tie-in! Are you guys excited? I’m excited!
Our issue opens with the meeting of the galaxy’s greatest militaries. The Kree, Shi’ar, Brood, Spartax and Annihilus are all present as the Super Skrull approaches. The next few pages outline how the Skrulls have been divided and are essentially at their weakest, with one notable warlord sacrificing himself to destroy a Builder’s ship. The Avengers are also at this intergalactic call to arms and it’s nice to see our heroes humbled. They are just a group of soldiers from a single planet—while important, they are a small bunch amongst vast armies that outnumber and overpower them.
Quick note: Everyone should know the Shi’ar, Kree, Skrulls and Annihilus. If you’re an avid X-Men fan you probably know the Brood as well. I had no idea who J-Son of Spartax (boy isn’t that clever) was until I did a little online research. He’s Starlord’s dad. There you go. You probably all knew that, but I haven’t read a Guardians of the Galaxy book since the DnA days.
In a surprise turn, Jonathan Hickman decides to actually move the plot along instead of fill more pages with endless chatter. The galactic forces quickly band together, form a plan and execute it—all within the pages of this very issue! Yes, I’m impressed.
So their plan is simple: they catch one of the Builder’s ships off-guard and arrange their attack so the only possible retreat is into a black hole. And it all seems to work too, as the space-battle rages on, the Builder’s ship is destroyed.
Strange thought: where does that lightning come from when Thor fights in space?
Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned. The Builders uncloak the rest of their fleet and wipe out most of the good guys. Manifold is fortunately aboard Captain America’s ship and teleports them all to safety, but the B-team in Captain Marvel’s ship hits a rough patch. Are they all dead? Sure looks that way, but I wouldn’t count on it.
Another strange thought: I like Falcon’s interstellar space armor, but isn’t he kind of useless just flying around punching spaceships? Isn’t it sort of dangerous for that guy to be out and about? I mean, Hyperion, Thor—I get them, but Falcon? I’m scared for the guy!
Overall, I was incredibly satisfied with the plot, pace and writing here. Hickman has finally gotten around to telling the story he’s been building to and we get a nice chunk of it here. There’s action, drama, a little light comedy and everything feels very epic, important and heavy. I read Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege and maybe another forgettable event, but none of them felt this intense, this tangible! This is a bona fide Marvel Comics Event! I haven’t felt this way since Annihilation!
Unfortunately, it’s not all good news. Leinel Francis Yu is our artist here and I’m not crazy about his work. It’s not bad in these pages—he gets a good amount of detail in and his battles are nice and complex, but there’s an overall muddiness to everything. Sometimes his art really bothers me—here it didn’t as much. I still don’t like the style, but I applaud this decent effort.
Keep the ball rolling, Hickman! Two parts in and this Infinity business is shaping up real nice!
New Avengers #9
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mike Deodato
Coloured by Frank Martin
Cover by Deodato and Laura Martin
Dated October 2013
While the Avengers are out in space, Thanos comes to play! And he’s brought the Black Order (aka Cull Obsidian) with him!
Thanos’s main objective here is to find the time gem. Remember how all the infinity gems broke, but the time gem simply disappeared? It’s still out there. Thanos thinks it’s probably still on Earth and the Illuminati know where.
Iron Man and Reed Richards are still on Earth (kind of, mostly) so they spearhead the defence of New York City and Thanos and his fleet arrive. There are a few pages of laser canons coming out of buildings and stuff, but it’s very forgettable and doesn’t really do the whole “last line of defence for the city” thing justice.
In Wakanda, Black Dwarf approaches, but finds that Black Panther and his sister are no pushovers. In fact, Panther totally kicks his butt and sends him scurrying back to Thanos with his tail (if he had one) between his legs. Man, I love it when Black Panther is shown as a force to be reckoned with. The fact that he acted like a big jerk and sent an invasion force to wipe out Atlantis last issue certainly taints his image, but still. This plot point reminded me of the only good story to come out of Secret Invasion, where Jason Aaron wrote about the Skrulls invading Wakanda. They got their butts handed to them too.
Next up, Proxima Midnight heads to Atlantis. She finds the place already pretty roughed up (thanks to the forces of Wakanda) and Namor alone, mourning the deaths of his people. She convinces him to give up and tell her where she can find the gem. He says Wakanda. It’s a creative version of payback, I’ll admit, but I still think the whole Panther/Namor feud is stupid and forced.
At the Sanctum Sanctorum Doctor Strange finds himself under the control of Ebony Maw. Wong’s all tied up and no help and the good Doctor is just sitting there as Maw wraps himself around. It’s strange that we never see any sort of conflict or fight, but I suppose that’s the point. As we’ll later learn in the Black Order’s roster page, Ebony Maw may seem like he has no powers—like he’s a frail, useless member of the Black Order, but he might be the most dangerous of all. Seems he cares little for finding the gem for Thanos. He wants the power for himself! Another monkey wrench thrown into the plot? I’m all for it!
Somehow the Jean Grey School gets real unlucky and they get a visit from both Corvus Glaive and Supergiant (Supergiant!!!). We get to see the baddies show off their powers as Supergiant takes control of Iceman’s mind and Glaive takes a stab at Wolverine. So, Supergiant is the psychic type bad guy, eh? Neat twist, but when you’re up against the X-Men you better be quite the mindbender. Nevertheless, they seem to be able to take on the X-crew with ease.
We finish with a quick look at Attilian where Blackbolt and Maximus are up to something but—oh wait, it’s incursion time! What timing, eh? The Builders out in space, Thanos invading Earth and now an incursion to top things off? I love it. Hickman layers the conflicts and if it’s almost too much for the reader to bear, just think how the characters must feel! I’m glad that the central issue to this series hasn’t conveniently disappeared to make room for other conflicts.
Oh, and the art is by Mike Deodato and it sucks. The layouts are fine, the storytelling is great—but there’s something about the overall “digital finish” to it that makes my stomach turn. Had Deodato simply stuck to layouts and had a decent artist to work with, I’d probably be pretty happy. As it stands, I can’t stand this newest style of his.
I’ve also made a decision about those white pages with the title cards. They work in the main Infinity book, because that’s an event book and each issue is thick. In Avengers and New Avengers, they seem like simple filler—a way to kill a page without planning anything for it. Less story for a few white pages? No thanks.
Infinity keeps rolling on, let’s hope Hickman can keep the momentum!