The start of one of the most exciting and complex event comics in recent memory.
Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity #1 is the culmination of close to a year’s worth of development in both his Avengers and New Avengers series. Seeds sewn since the very outset of both titles are finally beginning to bear fruit in the pages of Infinity, as Captain America prepares to defend Earth from the Builders while Iron Man remains behind to protect the planet on his own. Infinity is much more than a mere extension of Hickman’s Avengers work, however, as the arrival of one of Marvel’s most powerful beings will surely cast away all of the work Earth’s mightiest heroes have achieved, and further see one of the Marvel Universe’s most mysterious races take charge in the fight for Earth.
Hickman is obviously conscious of the power and drawbacks of event books, as Tony Stark himself admits he is “getting tired of end of the world scenarios.” The scope of Infinity is big in a way that some of the best crossovers and events from the past have been, all initially without the fatigue and worn out feeling many can have. Infinity carefully develops both the power of the Builders and the dread their inevitable arrival evokes through several awe-inspiring scenes of an army of Builders laying waste to a far-off world. The Builders’ methodical destruction of this planet does not bode well for Earth’s heroes, moreover, who have barely protected the planet from the celestial beings over the course of Hickman’s run, which only heightens the intensity now that the full onslaught of their strength is heading towards Earth.
The Builders are far from the only threat, however, as Thanos prepares to lay siege to Earth once the Avengers are off planet. Thanos’ involvement adds another layer of complexity that Hickman can develop alongside the most interesting aspect of Infinity, the Inhumans. The Inhumans have been an integral part of Hickman’s work as far back as his run on Fantastic Four and FF, and their continual growth seems to be paying off in the writer’s new event. The Inhumans’ involvement, as well as the powerful Thanos, means Infinity is juggling at least four major plot-threads from the outset, but not only are all four clearly developed and well managed, but the complex story creates a definite feeling of excitement as each faction strategically prepares to either destroy or defend the Earth, regardless of the cost.
For fans who have been following Hickman’s Avengers titles over the past year, Infinity feels like the pay-off they have waited for. Hickman is a master of telling complex and detailed stories that unfold slowly, like watching two chess masters at play. Infinity may not have the emotional power for readers jumping in without prior understanding of Hickman’s status quo, but the awesome scope and direction of Infinity is well worth the learning curve.
Jonathan Hickman (W), Jim Cheung (A), Justin Ponsor (C) • Marvel Comics, $4.99, August 14, 2013.