*of course, huge spoilers ahead*
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver
Coloured by Justin Ponsor
Cover by Adam Kubert and Laura Martin
Dated December 2013
In the last issue of Avengers (#21, read last week’s column for all the details) we saw our heroes turn the tide of war, reclaim previously captured worlds, eventually lose a number of battles, unleash the Annihilation Wave, see it gloriously fail and lose all hope. We then saw Captain Universe wake up, wipe out the Builders and set the Avengers back on the road to winning. It was a rather well-told story, but reading the summary it’s easy to lose track of who came out on top. This issue of Infinity skips all that—everything you just read doesn’t really make a difference, let’s just say the Avengers are winning now, and all the good guys in space are happy.
Well, mostly happy. Despite raising flags in praise of the Avengers on worlds throughout the cosmos, Captain America is bummed. Why? Gladiator has some bad news. Earth has fallen.
Finally, our story turns to the underdeveloped son of Thanos, Thane. In previous issues we’d learned that Thane is an inhuman, hiding out in a remote part of the world in a hidden inhuman colony, working as a doctor. Thanos wants to kill him, because somehow Thanos had a bunch of children all across the galaxy and he’s nuts and wants to kill them now. Sure, I can buy that.
Last issue, Thanos and Blackbolt duked it out atop the floating inhuman kingdom of Attilan. Blackbolt (with the help of his mad brother Maximus) blew the place up, setting off a terrigen mist bomb that would transform all the latent inhumans on Earth. The mists turned Thane purple, gave him pointy ears and made him some sort of avatar of death, killing everyone around him. We don’t get much of an explanation here; suffice it to say “he’s a more like Thanos now”.
After gaining the information from Dr. Strange’s mind a few issues back, Ebony Maw finds Thane, confronts him and gives him a fancy containment suit, promising he’ll be able to control his new massively destructive powers. Said containment suit also traps Thane, wrapping him up nice and tight until papa Thanos arrives.
Flip to the Illuminati, who are just making their way away from the planetary incursion from the last issue of New Avengers (again, see last week’s column). They are relieved to see one catastrophe averted, but quite annoyed to see that Thanos and his crew had taken Blackbolt hostage, invaded Necropolis, stole the world destroying anti-matter injection bombs (and their launch codes) and basically totalled Wakanda. As soon as Thanos leaves to take a crack at Thane, the Illuminati storm Necropolis to take back what’s theirs. And hey, things are looking up—Captain America just arrived with the cavalry!
Now this is a strange issue of Infinity. The focal point here is Thane—a character that Jonathan Hickman has made practically no effort to develop. We know he is the son of Thanos and a doctor. That’s it. Why should we care about him? He’s devoid of any personality and frankly isn’t all that interesting. It seems the best moments of this event were portrayed in the tie-in series: Avengers showed us the Annihilation Wave and the sweeping and sudden defeat of the Builders! This issue tells us that the good guys fought back and won somehow, skipping all the good stuff. New Avengers showed us the Illuminati meeting Builders from another dimension and featured the destruction of an alternate earth! This issue, they come back to reality and are featured in exactly one panel of action. It’s all very anticlimactic and seems to be more of a setup for the conclusion of this event than it does an exciting piece of the story.
One scene to note occurs early in this issue. Captain America stands proudly on a Kree world, fresh from defeating the very last of the Alephs stationed there. The Kree are so thankful, they raise a flag to honour the Avengers. They proclaim their planet “an Avengers world”. Now, this looks like the promise of a bold new direction for the series once Infinity concludes. Perhaps the Avengers expand throughout the galaxy? Will they have an outer-space branch? Maybe there will be a Kree Avengers? It’s a neat set-up with endless possibilities ahead.
Spoiler alert*: Hickman blows it and the potential is never realised. But we aren’t there yet, so let’s not get too mopey.
The best news lies in the art department: Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver don’t let up and provide another stellar issue. They don’t get much to work with, but the one panel of action the Illuminati appear in is memorably rendered by Weaver and the iconic flag-raising scene let’s Opena practise his best homage. Justin Ponsor is a master colourist, we all know this, and he doesn’t disappoint for a second in these pages.
Two more issues of Avengers, one more Infinity and a New Avengers epilogue to finish off the event. It seems we’ve come full circle, but the end is still five comic books away! Then the real mess begins…