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Infinity #1 Review

infinitycoverA quote often attributed to NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky is that you should always “skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is” (whether Gretzky ACTUALLY said it is something I dealt with in a Hockey Legends Revealed). Simply put, the quote suggests that a great hockey center like Gretzky has to always be thinking one step ahead of his opponents. He has to be able to see the entire ice rink and all the variables and then plan an attack that takes every moving part on the rink into consideration. While doing one thing he has to see where the puck will later be and plan for what will happen when he gets there. It takes a very skilled person to manage a situation like this. Jonathan Hickman is just that type of skilled person and it was fascinating watching him take this type of approach with the first issue of Infinity, Hickman’s first shot at writing a company-wide crossover (but with the high quality of this first issue, it will surely not be his last).

Hickman has spent the last eight or so months of Avengers and New Avengers putting all of the pieces into play for Infinity, from the establishment of the powerful Builders (a threat so dire that the Avengers have to leave Earth to fight them) to the slow introduction of Thanos’ generals to the mystery of the new Captain Universe, all of it comes to bear in this first issue of Infinity.

However, what I perhaps appreciate more about this first issue than the preparation that Hickman put into it is the fact that you really did not even need to KNOW that Hickman put a ton of preparation into this story, as it works as a story on its own. Heck, the appearance (and destruction) of Galador and the Spaceknights, designed to show the might of the Builders, completely works without readers even knowing that Galador and the Spaceknights are an established part of the Marvel Universe.

The Galador sequence was pretty rough, although beautifully illustrated by Jimmy Cheung, Mark Morales and Justin Ponsor…

By the way, I was really taken aback by how well Infinity #0 flowed into the book. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Hickman actually wrote the issue specifically so that #0 was part of the story before it was lopped off to be used on Free Comic Book Day, but the way that it worked on its own that day and then as a seemingly non-separate chapter today? That was very cool.

Hickman splits the book into chapters and the approach works well. It reminds me a bit of Grant Morrison’s approach on Final Crisis, where each chapter sort of works as a snapshot of a crisis while putting them all together gives you a better idea of what the actual scenario is. The series of quick chapters with powerful cliffhangers keeps the story moving and the reader constantly on edge, even while most of the issue is spent setting up the rest of the series.

The basic gist of the story is that these powerful beings, the Builders, are ravaging worlds while on a collision course for Earth. The Avengers, naturally, decide to go stop them. Meanwhile, Thanos and his crew of bad guys have a plot to stop them, which includes one of his minions sneaking into Attilan and mining Black Bolt for some information…

and then Thanos attacking Earth while it is relatively unattended. This leads to a phenomenal final page that really drives the series.

Cheung is an amazing artist, although the intentionally cramped nature of the plot (much of the issue takes place in small quarters as the heroes discover how screwed they are and the villains plot) but when he is given the chance to break loose, like the aforementioned Galador sequence (or earlier in the book when we see Thanos receive a “tribute”) he does a great job at depicting an awesome battle sequence.

My favorite page in the issue is a little touch by Hickman that only underscored the severity of the upcoming battles, Smasher (who is a member of the Shi’ar Imperial Guard) mentions the notion that the Imperial Guard has been called together, along with back-ups for each member, as the Shi’ar are clearly expecting heavy losses and therefore will need ready replacements….

It is a clever idea by Hickman that the Shi’ar would do that but more so it is a clever way of showing this situation from a sort of staid, military-esque perspective. The matter-of-factness of the discussion makes it seem all the more imposing.

A number of recent Marvel events have opened strongly only to peter out a bit over the next few issues, but I have faith that Hickman has planned this so well that we won’t see that happen here and we’ll instead get one of the best Marvel events in recent memory.

17 Comments

This issue right here redeemed all of Hickman’s run on Avengers so far for me. I’d gotten to the point where the two books had slipped to “issue by issue” decisions to buy rather than automatic buys. Infinity already feels like the pay off on a lot of what we’ve seen.

His run so far hasn’t had the heart that Secret Warriors or Fantastic Four had, but if this is a taste of what I’m in for with the rest of the run, I’m sticking around.

I dropped Avengers after issue 2 and never picked up New Avengers. Now I’m sad that I did that, as this is such a promising event. Great first issue.

Is that Luke Skywalker talking with Captain Universe?

Lucasfilm and Marvel ARE both owned by Disney now. ;)

Hickman’s approach to structure in Avengers does tend to remind me a lot of Grant Morrison’s on JLA, so the Final Crisis comparison struck me as particularly apt.

There’s probably an essay or two in juxtaposing them, in fact, although it will have to wait until Hickman’s run is over.

God, how I hate Captain America’s movie costume.

I loved Hickman’s Fantastic Four. loved his secret warriors and really wish he had finished shield. love his image books (haven’t tried east of west).

his avengers, however, leaves me soooo cold. I dropped it after 2 issues, tried again when he reintroduced the new universe, and dropped it again after 2 issues.

It doesn’t help that he thinks of the Avengers books as 20 pages in a 2000 page story, instead of thinking of each as an individual chapter.

You know Michael P… that is a GREAT idea and cool thinking…. the parallels and differences between the 2 writers’ methods… that is an interesting compare and contrast…

I’ve been LOVING Avengers and New Avengers (and this is coming from someone who has NEVER even WANTED to get an issue of ANY avengers book previously) and I’m very excited to see Infinity play out. I don’t think I’ll be getting ALL the tie-ins (Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble etc) but surely Marvel/Disney will be looking at this event and mining it for “Avengers 3″ when it finally comes around? I at least hope Joss Whedon is reading it. Love this book, and Mr Hickman.

yes, that was a great issue. This is how you make events. Other writers should learn from Hickman.

There’s something to be said about writing with gravitas. I think this was more of an “Infinity” event then the bulk of the Infinity’s we got in the 90s. Hickman def. captures that old school cosmic vibe with this book with unique characters and big ideas. Looking forward to following this through as it didn’t even feel like a 2013 Marvel book to me (not that I have an issue with 2013 Marvel).

Where have Thanos’ generals appeared before? I’ve been reading both Avengers book and don’t remember seeing them until the last couple pages of last month’s New Avengers. It definitely felt botht there and in Infinity that I was supposed to know who these characters are. Maybe they’ve been in Avengers and I just forgot about them. I have to admit that with Hickman so clearly writing for the omnibus in Avengers I’ve found each individual issue pretty forgettable. It’s been on the bubble for me for a while, we’ll see how the first couple issues of Infinity play out. I don’t like paying $4 twice a month for what feels like part of a chapter of a story.

Jazzbo: They’re new. New Avengers was their first appearance.

“Other writers will learn from Hickman”

Which is exactly what not to do.

This issue sucked, Hickmans writing is so sloppy and stupid. IMO.

Shlomo Ben Hungstein

August 19, 2013 at 12:48 am

hickman really gave some really shitty treatment to the legacy of Bill Mantlo’s Rom spaceknight series in this issue what a disappointment hickman has become. Marvel’s not getting any more of my money.

I feel ya Shlomo but Marvel Comics no longer possesses the licensing rights to Rom from Parker Brothers, the character is not allowed to appear in his armored form–hence the reference and images of various spaceknights other than ROM.

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