*of course, huge spoilers ahead*
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencilled by Jim Cheung and Dustin Weaver
Inked by Mark Morales, Dustin Weaver, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, Jim Cheung and John Livesay
Coloured by Justin Ponsor and Ive Svorcina
Cover by Adam Kubert and Laura Martin
Dated January 2014
Well folks, we made it: Infinity #6 of six. The big showdown. The epic finale. The grand conclusion.
You see, Infinity #6 is a tidy finish, but not nearly as thrilling as it should have been. There were two big, bad threats in this major Marvel event, as Hickman introduced us to the seemingly unstoppable Builders and brought back everybody’s favourite death-worshipper, Thanos. The Builders were carving a path through space, bent on destroying Earth and anything that stood in their way. They played off of the grand scheme that Hickman had been fashioning since Avengers #1 and they promised to both enrich the Marvel Universe with their new mythos and destroy it, literally, in the context of the plot. And then Hickman offed them with his favourite plot device—the dues ex machine—a few issues back.
But fret not, Thanos is still threatening Earth in his barely related plot thread, and he’s doing a pretty good job of it too. As we’re told in the always satisfying recaps, Thanos found that pesky son of his that he’d been meaning to kill, stormed Wakanda and stole the planet-destroying anti-matter injection bombs, captured Blackbolt and took control of Earth’s primary defensive space station, The Peak.
Fresh off their victory against the Builders, the space-faring Avengers head home to take on Thanos. Fresh off their “victory” against the latest universal-ending planetary incursion, the Illuminati head home to take back their headquarters (and arsenal of apocalypse-scenario bombs). Thanos and his crew of villains don’t stand a chance, am I right?
Well, as the Illuminati head to the Necropolis, they find the going a tad tougher than they’d originally planned. See, Thanos is gone, but Supergiant is still around, controlling Blackbolt and unleashing his power against them. She also decides to arm one of the anti-matter bombs—planting Earth only moments away from being nothing more than space dust. It’s a thrilling threat, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t seem all that well thought out. Supergiant gives a little villainous aside about her childhood and how she wants nothing more than to die for the glory of Thanos—but he’s still on the planet (albeit far away, but definitely on Earth)! Setting off that bomb would evaporate him as well…I can’t image that’s what she had in mind. Thankfully, though she bests the Illuminati, Maximus the Mad shows up and tells her what’s what. He’s got some plans of his own and nobody is going to mess with them. Trusty Lockjaw arrives on the scene, teleports both Supergiant and the anti-matter bomb to a desolate, uninhabited planet and everything goes ka-blooey. Yes, that’s Hickman trope number 1 on full display: teleportation solves everything. At the very least, it’s refreshing to see Lockjaw in action instead of the ever relied on Manifold.
Over in who-knows-where, Thanos and the rest of his crew are about to execute Thane—that last of Thanos’s children that just have to be murdered. But, of course, the Avengers won’t be having any of that. In traditional Hickman Avengers strategizing, the Hulk gets thrown into the fray first. It doesn’t take long for the combined efforts of Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive to subdue him—but then in come the cavalry! Fisticuffs ensue and the Avengers get roughed up quite the bit, until Hickman trope number 2 arrives on the scene: Thor isn’t just an Avenger; he’s an awesomely powerful god that can pretty much take on anyone. That trope, I like. Thor and Thanos duke it out, giving Ebony Maw time to let Thane out of his cage. We always knew that Maw was up to something gnarly, but us readers are just plain smarter than Thanos, am I right? We didn’t trust him for a minute! Thane knows due to his recent transformation, that one hand of his causes instant death, so he grabs his pa with his other paw. Thanos and Proxima Midnight seem to become encased in amber, or something, and according to both Maw and Iron Man, this is “a fate worse than death”. Sure, sure…
Glaive isn’t so “unlucky”, however; Hyperion blasts him into ash. To me, that seems like the worse fate, but whatever.
Oh, and The Peak! Let’s not forget that little plot thread. The space Avengers take on Thanos’s fleet, with Cannonball and Smasher flirting all the while. How do they turn the tide of war and send the enemy running? Good old Hickman trope number 3: the dues ex machine. Yup, Starbrand, who’s “really coming around” according the Black Widow, does his major star hand thing and wipes out a whole lot of aliens. Just like he did with the Builder’s fleet a few issues back. Screw effort; let’s get the kid to take’em all out! Just because he’s getting better at it doesn’t mean his character is evolving. It’s lazy writing, not character building.
So that’s that. As we’re told in the brief epilogue, the Kree welcome back the Accusers (despite Ronan’s little fit), the Skrulls become an empire again, Annihilus gets his hands on a planet and brings his drone army out of the negative zone, the Avengers rebuild Earth and the Shi’ar rebuild their army. Turns out even Ex Nihilo and his brethren get a happy ending—they go through the universe and plant life wherever the Builders destroyed it! Nice guys!
And the still underdeveloped-in-every way Thane takes off with Ebony Maw to become “something worse than his father could have ever dreamed”. I suppose the Avengers just gave’im the old salute and they were off then? Now that’s a plot hole you could fly a spaceship through.
The art here is mostly the reliable work of Jim Cheung, with a little Dustin Weaver thrown in and and army of inkers making sure the book shipped on time. Cheung isn’t the A+ artist Marvel tries to bill him as, but his work is still quite good. His action sequences are very clear and thrilling, his characters all look well-worn (and almost identical in the face) and the choices of layouts and angles are just superb.
All done then? Maybe not…seems we have an entire epilogue issue in the form of New Avengers #12. Let’s look at that then, shall we?
New Avengers #12
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Mike Deodato
Coloured by Frank Martin
Cover by Deodato and Laura Martin
Dated January 2014
I suppose another one of these were due. Let’s check in with the Illuminati, see where everyone is at, get some more warnings, doom predictions and please, just once more, tell us that “everything dies”.
So Black Panther is cleaning up Necropolis and his sister drops by with some guards. They find out Namor had been coming around and get all pissed, banishing BP from the Wakanda kingdom. Namor comes out of the shadows and laughs a bit. There go 11 pages; thanks for that. I used to think a Black Panther comic written by Jonathan Hickman would be the bee’s knees. Not so much anymore.
Blackbolt and Maximus are in a lab somewhere and we learn that since setting off the terrigen mist bomb (which we assume will be/was explored in Marvel’s Inhumanity event) Blackbolt has lost quite a lot of his power. He wants the Inhumans to think he and Maximus are dead. He doesn’t want anybody to know he lost his powers. It’s all very secretive, oo-la-la.
Doctor Strange gets a nice slice of development by telling Wong to leave him alone. He opens up the Blood Bible and we are told this comes with a disastrous price. Often the sideman of the Illuminati, it’s nice to see our good Doctor try to come up with some solutions of his own. Drastic? You bet, but it makes perfect sense and gives a genuine sense that there will be some major consequences down the road.
Beast, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic get the unenviable job of catching up with Black Swan. They tell her how they met some Builders from another dimension and she laughs in their faces. Honestly, she’s laughing at the reader. See, during Infinity we tried so hard to make sense of it all. We thought we had it, too. But no, Swan reminds us that there are still Mapmakers, Sidera Maris, Black Priests, White Kings and Rabum Alal out there. Yeah, we forgot about that mess. Thanks!
And how does this all tie into Infinity? The Illuminati have stored Thanos in all his carbonite glory down in their bunker. That’s it. Time to move on to a bigger Hickman induced headache—Infinity is over but, ah geez, the multiverse is dying! Remember!?
Mike Deodato draws this issue…
Let’s just forget about it and move on; we’re not even halfway through Hickman’s run on the Avengers.