*of course, huge spoilers ahead*
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencilled by Leinil Francis Yu
Inked by Gerry Alanguilan
Coloured by David Curiel
Cover by Yu and Laura Martin
Dated November 2013
If you’ve read Infinty #3 (and you ought to) then the first few pages here are pretty redundant. Par for the course…
We open with a recap showing us how the Avengers and the galactic council had finally damaged the Builders’ armada. It was a grand victory, but perhaps still too small in the scope of things. We spend a bit recapping how the captured Avengers were freed, then switch to the galactic council as they argue over what to do next. Captain America gets them to agree (for the most part)—it’s time to have a chat with the Builders.
On Kala, the Kree home world, the Builder-now-dictator refuses to leave. The Kree population knelt before him and even the Supreme Intelligence agrees that there is a slim chance our heroes will be able to defeat the Builders and free the planet. Gladiator sends his holographic image down and asks for a parley. They agree to a single representative to negotiate terms. What will they discuss? According to Captain America, it’s time to surrender. What!? This must be a cliff-hanger trick, because I’m sure Infinty #4 won’t be the simple submission of our heroes; Jonathan Hickman’s got something up his sleeve.
We then switch to Abyss and Ex Nihilo, the confused products of the Builders, ready to deny their creators. They meet with Ex Nihila and the other yellow “nihilos” on a distant planet and we learn that alephs actually give birth to the nihilos and abyssi (sic). The nihilo is meant to create life, the abyssi judges it and if it is deemed so, the aleph does the dirty work and destroys it. Apparently all of the abyssi had been discontinued, as it were, by the Builders thousands and thousands of years ago. The nihilos have been missing their other halves—incomplete, restless and now only simple foot soldiers for the Builders, not able to fulfill their original purpose. Well, that’s no good! Somehow Abyss fuses with Ex Nihilo and he turns black, gathering up the other nihilos and uniting them against their creators. Score one for the good guys!
So what did we cover this issue? Well, our heroes are going to go talk with a Builder. That’s nice. And Ex Nihilo and Abyss (perhaps one and the same now?) have turned the other nihilos against the Builders. Awesome. That’s it. The rest was recap, posturing and talking in circles. Honestly, with the pace Infinity is moving at, these Avengers tie-ins might as well be footnotes. It’s decently written, but a painfully small chunk of story at $3.99.
The art fares even worse. While Leinil Francis Yu’s work up to this point was a laudable effort from an artist I didn’t especially care for, this issue he completely bombs. What was simply muddy and sketchy now becomes under-detailed, ill-defined and obviously rushed work. Gerry Alanguilan steps in to ink and Yu’s work reaches a major low. There are still panels that prove he can draw, quite well at times, but overall it seems like the effort simply wasn’t put into this one.
Again we get an issue filled with tons of promise and little delivery. I’m not surprised.
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
Though both plots are told back and forth in this back, I’ll handle them separately instead of jumping around.
First let’s catch up with Thanos and his mad quest to find and kill his inhuman son. We know his son is part of one of the lost inhuman tribes, living peacefully in Greenland where only a select few are subject to terrigenesis (where inhumans go through their precious terrigen mists and are transformed into powerful beings). Thanos’s son, Thane (we learn his name here), has yet to undergo terrigenesis and remains a humble, helpful doctor in his remote community.
Well, all of that is about to change, because with the help of his crazy brother Maximus, Blackbolt set off a bomb that both levelled Attilan and sent terrigen mist across the world, transforming every closet inhuman on Earth. That’s a plot point straight out of Earth X isn’t it? Worth stealing, sure, but I feel like it’s been done. Thane is affected by the mists, turns purple and starts to look a lot like Thanos. He also has some powers, but we don’t get an explanation here.
Now Jonathan Hickman doesn’t hesitate to explain that the mists don’t just imbue inhumans with powers, but “reveals who they truly are”. I get that, but why does Thane start to look like Thanos? I mean, he’s got equal parts Thanos genes and inhuman genes, so why does the terrigenesis transform his appearance to look more like that part of him that isn’t inhuman? Why does it affect his Thanos genes (which are, remember, Deviant genes, but that’s a whole complicated mess on its own)? Why am I thinking about this so much?
Anyways, Thanos and Blackbolt rise from the rubble that was Attilan and duke it out. Thanos wins, but Blackbolt refuses to tell him where Thane is, taking a final beat-down instead.
Up in space and far, far away, the Builder on the Kree home-world of Hala prepares to meet with the galactic council’s negotiator. He gathers up Ronan and all the accusers to witness what he believes will be the Builder’s triumph. In a surprise move, it turns out the negotiator is none other than Thor. Really?
After the Builder slaps him and makes him bow, all seems lost. The Builders warn that they will enslave but spare life throughout the universe, except for on Earth. Humanity is a stain on existence and Earth cannot be spared. Thor answers by launching his hammer from space through the Builder’s stomach. In my favourite sequence from the series so far—and a contender for best sequence of 2013, the dying Builder cries “you don’t understand, this means everything dies.” Thor answers win “you first” and a final hammer blow. Damn it’s one fine Avengers moment. Thanks for reminding us of how awesome Thor is, Hickman.
From here, Ronan and the rest of the accusers realize that the Builders can be hurt—they can be defeated. The final page with Thor and the accuser corps raising their hammers in defiance of the Builders is a powerful one.
Now Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver both continue to knock this series out of the park, artistically speaking. Their work here seems a tad less detailed and perhaps more rushed than previous efforts, but it’s still top notch stuff. Thor’s negotiating sequence (drawn by Opena) couldn’t have come out better—it’s all created with a deft sense of pacing and the chosen angles and expressions are created with adept hands. Even watching Thanos slam Blackbolt’s head into the pavement (courtesy of Weaver) is a treat. Perhaps these things take too many panels or pages, but they are done with the utmost artistic integrity. Blame Hickman for drawing things out—Opena and Weaver make the best of every scene.
Though the Builders were wounded in previous issues, this is where it all turns around. Thor’s “hammer through the gut” technique not only gave the characters in the story hope, but the readers as well. Hickman spent so much time pumping up these villains as an unbeatable force that seeing them fall to their knees is a delight to everyone routing for the good guys. The Builders are still a long way from being defeating, but with an expertly executed turning point like this issue, the rest of this event should be a lot of fun.
Every time I read a poorly paced issue of Avengers or New Avengers, my faith in Jonathan Hickman dies a little. Then he pulls out a brilliantly orchestrated issue of Infinity and all is well again. While I’m always left satisfied, it does point to a disturbing question—when Infinity is done, will we be left with nothing but books stuck in molasses? Will the Avengers inherit the pace of its event brethren or simply tread water? We’ll see, folks. In the meantime, this Infinity business is a wild ride!