Jonathan Hickman is one of those writers who readers tend to love or hate. And he certainly has his tropes. Plenty of “title placard” pages in this one. Wheels within wheels as multiple plot threads march unerringly forward. A sense of scope that’s either grand or pretentious, depending on your appreciation of Hickman’s style. Your existing opinion of Hickman should probably be your guide on whether to pick this up. Love his Avengers work? You may well love this even more. Don’t like his Avengers? Stay far away. On the fence? Well, let’s get into the actual comic.
Infinity seems to be an extension of ongoing Avenger/New Avengers plots. Of these titles, I’ve only read the first collected edition of Avengers, and I still wasn’t so sure I knew what was going on. Do you know who Ex Nihilo is? Who the current Captain Universe is (or _what_ a Captain Universe is)? Who the Builders are? What Captain Universe’s relationship to Ex Nihilo and the Builders is? That’s all from the first collected edition of Avengers and figures into this… and none of it is really explained. They just go right into the action.
The airplace view? Thanos is back and he’s looking for something on Earth. The Builders are back (the Builders are an ancient race that evaluate a planet and either help cultivate the species there or burn it to the ground and start over with a new ecosystem) and on a beeline towards Earth, looking like they’re in a bad mood. There’s trouble in Attilan, and it may be political turmoil for Black Bolt, because the Inhumans are going to be starring in the next Marvel Comics Event and Marvel doesn’t end Events so much as set up the next Event. How will this disparate threads come together? All we know is Hickman is writing it, so threads will eventually come together and a couple more threads will pop up between know and then. Love him or hate him, Hickman is no pantser (i.e., one who doesn’t plan out where the story is going and writes by the seat of his pants). The plot beats are there waiting to be connected and, in fairness, Black Bolt is part of the Illuminati over in New Avengers, so the next event spin-off may be more organic than you think.
Artwise, there’s nothing to quibble about. Jim Cheung and a trio of inkers (Mark Morales has top billing) knock this one out of the park. Lovely book.
If you like your stories cosmic and on an epic scale, this could float your boat. Hickman always works out stories within stories and this felt like his widest scope yet.
Know what you’re getting into with this. The chart in the back says 6 issues of Infinity, 6 issues of Avengers, and 3 issues of New Avengers. Plus you have some random tie-in issues, but they’re not on the chart, so let’s not call them cannon. As I said in the beginning, this seems like a third Avengers title. It seems like a safe bet that when they have a chart telling you an approximate reading order, you’re probably going to want to get all three title and read it as the chart suggests. I’d also say if you’re planning on coming into this cold, you might want to go back and _at least_ get the first 3 issues of Avengers that introduced Ex Nihilo, the Builders and the Captain Marvel relationship. You probably want to pick up more than that. This struck me as an incredibly inappropriate comic to promote as a big event and try and get readers to start cold. Some introductions to the situations are necessary is this is the first issue of an event or the opening chapter of a book.
What did I think of it? Hickman’s a love/hate kinda guy and I’m not that fond of his frequently mechanical plots in the Marvel universe. I much prefer him over at Image on Manhattan Projects. I found the comic very pretentious, with the sense of momentous occasion too forced. It’s building off that initial Avengers plotline I didn’t much care for (the whole “Avengers’ World” trope was spun out of one of the worst lines of dialogue I’ve read in the last sixth months). The craft is there, but totally not my style. I’m not the intended audience for this book.
Infinity struck me as a microcosm of the controversies about modern comics editorial policy. It’s a clear example of grouping the title “families” together and making increasing difficult to just buy a single title and not the whole group. You’ve got “Battle of the Atom” coming up in the X-office. DC is rife with crossovers in the Superman, Batman and Green Lantern groups. Infinity is a little different because it’s given the impression (at least to me) that it’s supposed to be more than just an Avengers family. That doesn’t seem to be the case and seems to be a bit of a stretch. Or it might just be an indicator of how widely the Avengers family has stretched after the movie.
Recommendations? If you’re already enjoying Avengers, jump on it. You’ll love it. If not, proceed with caution. This is not particularly new reader friendly.
And we’ll all wait for the reaction of the Rom fans to issue #1.