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    Pick of the Week: Infinity #1

    By | August 15th, 2013
    Posted in Reviews | 2 Comments

    Since Marvel is launching roughly twenty crossovers this year, it might be hard to distinguish them from each other. Nope. “Infinity” is a crossover comic like no other and the single biggest comic Marvel has released all year.

    Written by Jonathan Hickman
    Illustrated by Jim Cheung

    The oversized kickoff to the year’s most anticipated Blockbuster summer event, changing the way you view the Marvel Universe!
    • The outbreak of war on two fronts: Earth and Space, with our heroes torn between them.
    • The world-shattering return of Thanos!
    • Includes material from FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: INFINITY

    There’s been quite the number of problems with the last few Marvel crossovers. Most of the complaints leveled at these stories have to do with just how slow the pace for the books is and how a huge sense of decompression removes any trace of urgency from the book. “Age of Ultron” and “Avengers vs. X-Men” went through approximately half their run of issues before deciding to get to that whole “plot” thing. Jonathan Hickman sidestepped all this exposition and set-up by basically writing his ass off with the roughly twenty issues or so of (New)Avengers. As a result, he’s been able to build up the mythology behind this event in those books and start “Infinity” right away with a bang. Seriously, the cast roster page alone is intimidating as what. There’s roughly 47 characters (including five freaking Spaceknights) on that page, not counting Thanos’ posse and some other aliens encountered along the way. Some crossovers are just an Avengers or Captain America story blown out to include some tie-in issues, but this, this is a story about The Marvel Universe and absolutely nothing less.

    Unfortunately, that leads to “Infinity” suffering just a little bit of denseness. If you’ve been following Hickman’s run on both main Avengers titles, then you should, for the most part, be fine. If not, you might be a little bit confused. Not by anything major, The Builders are pretty well established here and Thanos hardly needs that much introduction, but little things like why Captain Universe is hanging out on Galador or what that naked golden dude is doing with the Avengers might confuse the uninitiated. On the other hand though, this type of set up does retroactively redeem the other Avengers series in some ways. They may not have been as good as you would expect a book from Hickman to be, but seeing how they help set up more exciting circumstances like those found in “Infinity” helps the prior books in hindsight. So while there may be some confusion if you’re a new reader coming straight into “Infinity”, if you just let go and trust Hickman’s script, you’ll have a good basic understanding of what’s going on.

    Even if you can’t follow Hickman’s script at points (though really, it’s pretty accessible if you read carefully) one of the biggest reasons to pick up “Infinity” is Jim Cheung. I used to think book burning was an abominable practice until Cheung set “Infinity” on FIRE. I’ve been a small fan of Cheung before, I like his work on the original Young Avengers books a fair amount, but I’ve never really thought of him as a truly outstanding artist. Talented? Of course. Mind meltingly awesome? Not until I saw his work here. There are just so many fantastic moments here, and the smallest of them are only relatively minor. Cheung’s Manhattan skyline fits the mood as perfectly as his dark caverns in outer space do. New character designs, namely Thanos’s minions, are completely stellar and a lot is done visually with The Outrider’s powers. The action is stellar and the bigger moments are depicted with the appropriate grandiose. The ending of the sequence on Galador? Some really breathtaking stuff. And as mentioned before, Hickman’s set up of the story threads that would evolve into “Infinity” definitely helps moments like that have as much as a large impact as they do.

    Though if there’s one reason why “Infinity” might just become the success it definitely has the potential to be, it ‘s definitely Mad Titan himself. Thanos shows up maybe three times in this issue, says two words total, and doesn’t stand up once. In spite of that, or more realistically because, Thanos becomes more than a galactic conqueror. He becomes freaking terrifying. Jim Cheung draws the ever loving hell out of Thanos’ for the two and a half times he appears, and even when Thanos’ figure is covered by shadow, draws the Titan as a force of nature, of cosmic death. And when Cheung draws his face, he perfectly nails “The Thanos Smile.” That grin Thanos gives, shown here twice, that just makes the reader uncomfortable is masterfully done here and one of my favorite little things about this issue.

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    It’s easy to say that Marvel’s putting out way too many crossovers. And considering that X-Men: Battle of the Adam-X is running at the same time as “Infinity”, that might be true. However, “Infinity” really is an event comic that lives up to its name. Even with roughly 14 pages out of 56 that have been seen elsewhere, it’s a comic that puts in as much as it can and delivers a story so big that it could only be told in a format like this. Yes, it certainly has the potential to bungle in the future, but for now, it’s the event with the most potential in recent memory.

    Final Verdict: 9.3 – Buy. Or buy backissues of Hickman’s Avengers. Then buy.

    James Johnston

    James Johnston is a grizzled post-millenial. Follow him on Twitter to challenge him to a fight.