*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 November 2013
Back to the main event, ladies and gentlemen! Or, at least, the main event of 2013…
Remember that Ringworld place from Avengers? The place where all the wounded warriors and refugees from the battles with the Builders were resting? Well, this issue starts with that place blowing up. The Builders find it and shoot it and a million septillion people die. Or something like that—Jonathan Hickman really wanted to ramp up the body count in this issue. This leads to planets surrendering, one by one, to the Builders. Even the Kree Empire bows before them, so certainly all hope seems lost…
Except Captain America still has a plan! The Avengers and those that haven’t yet surrendered and abandoned the galactic council decide to hatch one last ditch effort against the Builders. I love a good underdog story.
The plan works as follows: a few ships fly in the face of the Builders, wanting to seem like a desperate attempt to fight back. In reality, they will be a distraction, and warriors will be teleported aboard the most powerful Builder ships. From there, the Avengers and co. will take control of the world-destroying ships and turn them on each other, using the Builders’ own weapons against them.
In a few nicely constructed pages their plan works and they finally free the captured Avengers, sending the remaining Builders running. Realizing his destiny, the newly freed Starbrand then unleashes a huge power blast and wipes out the rest of the enemy fleet. It seems the tide has turned in favour of our heroes!
Now it’s all very thrilling and cool to see the Avengers hatch a plan and stick it to the bad guys, but there are a few things that bothered me:
First, this entire plan revolves around Manifold and his ability to teleport different attack teams to different places. Since the beginning of this series, Manifold has been the solution to many of the Avengers problems and it’s getting a tad old. Really, the only reason the Builders don’t win this particular space battle is because they can’t teleport. It’s all very “well the entire galaxy has fought back and tried everything, but we do have this guy that teleports.” Honestly, the solution plays out very nicely, but when you think about it it’s all over-simplified and comes off as lazy.
Second, the strike force that attacks and takes over the main world-destroying ship is led by Bruce Banner and Mentor (of the Imperial Guard). Once they finally beat all the bad guys and grab the controls for the weapons, Banner hulks out and breaks the stuff, rendering the ship completely useless. What? Where was the logic in this? Send Banner to the enemy ship so he can uncontrollably “HULK SMASH” the very technology they are working so hard to get control of—the very weapons that could turn the tide of war? Didn’t Banner hulk out and break stuff just a few issues back when he was aboard the SHIELD heli-carrier? What was a stupid, pointless, thoughtless plot point now repeats itself in this event series, for no apparent reason. Guys, listen carefully: Bruce Banner is the Hulk and he will transform and break stuff, for better or worse. Do not trust him with delicate things. Do not put him in command of anything. Hulk Smash, okay?
Third is the Starbrand matter. Once they free the captive Avengers, Black Widow turns to him and says “you have the power to end this”. So Starbrand uses his power and blows up the bad guys. Couldn’t they maybe have thought of that during the first battle? It was probably meant to be some sort of turning point for the character, realizing his power and living out his potential, but instead this moment simply came off as “hey why didn’t we think of this before? Starbrand, go win the battle for us.” It’s a powerful moment, sure, and it’s made glorious by the art of Jerome Opena, but the logic behind it all is just ridiculous.
The second half of this book takes us back to Earth to catch up with Thanos and his quest to murder his inhuman son. We get a quick glimpse at the heroes who are still on Earth fighting off the forces of the Black Order, and a quick reminder that an interdimensional “incursion” is also happening with the Illuminati on a beach somewhere. Right, right, lots happening.
We then see Thanos land on Attilan expecting his tribute—the head of every teen inhuman. Unfortunately for him, he finds Blackbolt alone while Maximus herds the entire population into a massive teleporter, heading off to who knows where. Maximus also arms the bomb he’d been working on with Blackbolt. A confused Thanos asks for his tribute, Blackbolt screams in his face and Attilan blows up. Now that’s how you end an issue! I love a good Blackbolt scream.
I’m consistently satisfied with the art on both sides of this story. Jerome Opena’s space stuff is beautifully detailed and perfectly laid out, while Dustin Weaver’s Earth-based scenes are very traditional yet impressive. Marvel threw their best into this book and it shows. Even Justin Ponsor’s colours and Chris Eliopoulos’s letters stand out as particularly notable.
Despite a few questionable details in the story, Infinity as a whole has yet to let me down. Sure, sometimes Hickman seems to be wasting time. Sometimes his attempts at being grandiose come off as redundant repetitiveness. This isn’t a perfect story, but it is a captivating, ceaselessly exciting event book. The pace here is better than any of his Avengers or New Avengers books and it doesn’t look like it will let up anytime soon.
Infinity is still rocking my world; let’s just hope the main tie-in books can maintain the enthusiasm.