*of course, huge spoilers ahead*
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Leinil Francis Yu
Coloured by Sunny Gho
Cover by Yu and Laura Martin
Dated November 2013
Infinity marches on. The Builders are tearing through space and have just wiped out a significant portion of the galactic council’s forces. Captain Marvel (that’s Carol Danvers here) and her small ship of Avengers were crippled and captured. The Builders have some ‘splainin’ to do.
In the classic “waste of time and space” style of Jonathan Hickman, this book opens up with six pages explaining how Captain Marvel had been captured. A female Ex Nihilo (here called Ex Nihila) takes an interest in her and drags her before the Builders, leaving Hawkeye, Cannonball and Sunspot all tied up with no place to go. See, the Builders may be the all-powerful creators of the Universe, but they still need to gather information the old fashioned way—prisoner interrogation. Specifically, they want to know how Cap Marvel and her gang wound up with (the now captured as well) Abyss, Starbrand, Nightmask and Captain Universe. Those are Builders’ toys! Oh, and apparently Abyss is the last Abyssll (as they refer to her), a Builder creation that was thought to be completely gone.
At the same time, we get a closer look at the recent battle-wounded and refugees that have taken asylum on The Behemoth Ringworld. See, a few issues ago Captain America and Hawkeye were on Earth beating the crap out of innocent Skrull refugees. Here, Manifold, Spider-Woman and Shang-Chi tend to wounded and lost Skrulls and wonder what savagery could be responsible. Does this show the dichotomy of heroism, mischaracterisation, misunderstanding or revelation? It shows that Hickman’s head is always in the clouds with the greater plot at hand. When he tries for smaller character moments they don’t always make the most sense.
Back with the galactic council, we see our heroes planning the next stage of attack. J-Son of Spartax points out that the Builders are simply too powerful, then goes completely out-of-left-field and lets us know just how much he hates humans from Earth, for no apparent reason. This was probably an attempt on Hickman’s part to make the Avengers seem less significant or out of place amongst the other galactic leaders, but it’s simply forced and sounds ridiculous.
Ex Nihilo then joins the council to explain his concern with these Builders. They created him to give life to things, but what he sees is only death and destruction. Something must be up. Oh, might the system be broken? Yeah, thought so. The new plan of attack? Well, we don’t get much, but Captain America mentions something about an egg—something about infestation.
Back on the Builders’ ship, they bring out a Spartax prisoner who seems like nothing more than a walkie-talkie linking up to J-Son back at council headquarters. Sneaking away, J-Son decides to take advantage of the situation and pleads with the Builders. They finally make their motives clear: they need to destroy earth to save the rest of the Universe.
Let’s pause here, shall we? The Builders: the race as old as the universe itself, want to destroy Earth. We know why—if you’ve been reading New Avengers (or this Full Run series) you know that the multiversal structure is collapsing. Earth’s from other dimensions are crashing together, eliminating entire dimensions in the process. Should one Earth be destroyed before they can collide, then a universe is spared. Therefore, destroying Earth would ensure the safety of the rest of the universe. It makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is the process. This is an infinitely powerful race and they state in these very pages that their goal is preservation. Why, then, are they hell-bent on destroying everything in their path (things that they themselves created)? Why don’t they just fly to Earth and get rid of it? Why must every race in the galaxy suffer? Why did they destroy Galador, the Kree outposts and so many other planets? I expect these questions will be answered in future issues; otherwise this entire plot is left with quite the gaping hole. My guess is it has something to do with those huge blue tentacles that wiped out the Builders’ outpost so many issues ago (and led to the creation of Starbrand). Whatever sort space squid that was, it hasn’t been explained yet.
Oh, and a quick art critique: Leinil Francis Yu draws this issue and it’s all muddy and scratchy, as we’ve come to expect. It’s not bad work, but I’m not a huge fan.
Of the two threats in this Infinity event, I like the Builders side of things more than Thanos. Perhaps it’s because Hickman has been hyping up these guys since issue 1; we’re finally learning that all this “system is broken” nonsense almost makes sense. I’ll hand it to Hickman though, both plots are being handled very well. I’m a big fan of stacking these threats, as long as they can be juggled without losing focus.
New Avengers #10
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mike Deodato
Coloured by Frank Martin
Cover by Deodato and Laura Martin
Dated November 2013
Forget the Builders now, it’s Thanos time.
We learn from the recap (and again, redundantly from the first few pages) that Thanos has come to Earth to collect the time gem and murder his son. His son is an inhuman and unless the Illuminati get to him first, Thanos might have his way.
Now it’s easy enough to say Thanos had a son and wants to kill him, but when you think about it, that’s pretty darn strange, isn’t it? Not the wanting to kill him part—Thanos is a death-worshipping psychopath and it’s never surprising when he wants to commit an evil deeds—it’s the “having a son” part. Blackbolt explains it as “dark things occurred in dark places, and an inhuman woman returned with the Thanos seed”. Maybe I missed a miniseries or something (there are plenty of Thanos stories out there I haven’t read) but isn’t that downright… wrong? I’ll try to ignore the thought while reading Infinity, because there’s no point in letting a small, disturbing detail like that cloud what could otherwise be a rather enjoyable event. But Hickman, let me say this, your small little bothersome details are starting to add up. There’s a danger of this event coming off the rails already—and we’re not even halfway through.
So, Blackbolt gives the Illuminati a special codex that contains all the Inhuman secrets—including the rough whereabouts of Thanos’s son. Except, he doesn’t really give them the codex—he tricks them, working with his mad brother Maximus, and we aren’t sure exactly why yet.
Back in his floating fortress above Attilian, Thanos gathers his agents to catch up. Nobody has found the time gem yet, Ebony Maw hasn’t been heard from (remember, he possessed Dr. Strange for his own nefarious goals) and Black Dwarf failed in Wakanda. Thanos whacks him in the head and tells him he’s done. That’s ok, Black Dwarf seemed like the least interesting of the Black Order.
Now that seems like enough plot for the decompressed stylings of Jonathan Hickman, doesn’t it? However will we fill the rest of the pages? How about a stupid round-table scene where the Illuminati talks in circles, sayings lots but really nothing at all? Oh, and why not make everyone seem like idiots, unaware that Wakanda and Atlantis had gone to war? Sure! What kind of Avengers comic would this be if we didn’t waste a little time, space and logic?
Fortunately, one last thing of interest happens before this issue ends. The team set out and quickly find Thanos’s son. What could have eaten up an entire mini-series is resolved rather uneventfully in a few pages—and that I am thankful for. Dr. Strange finds the lost colony of inhumans in Greenland, and with it the yet-to-be-transformed son of Thanos. Ebony Maw then releases his grasp on Strange, wiping his mind and setting sights on the newly found inhumans.
And just to top things off, we finally get an incursion! Yes, what was only a tease a few issues back now genuinely occurs. Thanos sends his forces to Wakanda, sets down to face off with Blackbolt and the Avengers look up to red skies as another Earth prepares to come crashing down.
There’s always excitement on the horizon, right? Hickman never ceases to promise big threats and plenty of action, but when he takes up so much time with pointless, petty conversations (rarely to the benefit of character development) we tend to know what to expect. It’s always interesting to see which direction the plot takes, to see what unstoppable force might challenge the Avengers next, but if there’s one thing we can rely on its plenty of wasted space, repetition, reused panels and the necessity to suspend your disbelief.
That might make it sound like I hated this issue—I didn’t. It just didn’t do it for me. In fact, the only thing I hated was Mike Deodato’s art—but what else is new? This was another Hickman book that wanted to spin its wheels, get maybe one thing accomplished and make everything seem very epic in the process. It’s all build-up, very little payoff, then even more build-up.
Bring on the next issue of Infinity already!