With Thanos on Earth, how are The Avengers faring in space against the Builders? Why are celestial gods being sexualized? Does this all feel a little like Annihilation? Mild spoilers ahead!
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Leinil Yu
NFINITY TIE-IN – “AVENGERS UNIVERSE: II”
• The Avengers, prisoners of war!
• One last desperate plan.
• Betrayal in the Galactic Council.
Marvel is taking a rather interesting approach to how they do tie-ins for Infinity. Yes, there’s the usual flood of tie-ins and miniseries that hardly affect the actual event at all, but having all of Hickman’s interlock with the main Infinity series does a lot to help make the story feel even bigger. However, while “Infinity” and “New Avengers” have been fantastic thus far, the vanilla Avengers tie-in feels a little lacking. Not that it’s a bad book or anything; having an event grow directly from what Hickman’s been doing in the series thus far was a great idea. It’s just that, when choosing between the plot on Earth and the plot in space, I’d definitely choose the one with Thanos. That’s not to say that Hickman’s plot with the Builders and Systems isn’t interesting, it’s been one of my favorite parts of Marvel NOW!, but its inclusion into Infinity feels really distracting.
Imagine you’re watching Downton Abbey and during the usual shenanigans of Madame Downton and the Constable (I do not watch Downton Abbey) and suddenly the entire Abbey is attacked by the IRA or something. You’d rather watch the latter right? That’s what it feels like reading The Builder side of Infinity. Simply, put the plot with Black Bolt and Thanos is just much more exciting. The Builder plot that we had been following for roughly 17 issues now functions less on its own and more as an excuse for a certain aspect of a crossover to make sense. Infinity is two stories and, as sorry as I am to say it, the vanilla “Avengers” plot just isn’t as engaging. If anything, it feels like a watered down version of Annihilation. Replace The Builders with the Annihilation Wave and throw in The Avengers, and they both seem pretty similar.
There are definitely some great moments here though, especially among the Galactic Council. While the plot itself may be a little flimsy, the characters in “Avengers” are very well-written, with J’Son, Captain Marvel, and one of The Builders (let’s call him Bob) being the stand-outs here. So yes, even though I did say “Avengers Universe” is a little similar to Annihilation, there’s enough nuanced differences that make that similarity a coincidence, not a rip-off or anything. While Hickman writes “Avengers” #19 very well, it’s definitely not amongst his best work.
The same could be said for Leinil Yu. Normally his art in the issue is very good, but there are a few sequences, particularly in the beginning, that are sort of confusing. Amongst all the high-stakes space battles, there’s not a clear sense of continuity when it comes to what actually happens in the fight. Also, Yu draws what is possibly the weirdest interaction with an Ex Nihila, one of the Builder’s Gardeners. Mild spoilers: Some Avengers are captured by The Builders and Ex Nihila interrogates Captain Marvel. Normally this scene would be nonoffensive, but Ex Nihila strokes and caresses Cap Mar while doing one of those “show both your chest and your ass” shots that seem totally out of place in this comic. When Greg Land does it, it’s not good but at least it’s expected. Here though? With a celestial being responsible for the creation of life and fondling another female character? It just feels incredibly out of place. Yu’s art is still fantastic in a lot of places; as confusing as I found some of them, the space battles were still incredibly cool. However, the scene with Ex Nihila really distracted from Yu’s better work.
Even though it sounds like I was a bit harsh on “Avengers” #19, it’s still a pretty good book. While it’s not nearly as strong as some of the other components of Infinity, it’s still an incredibly solid book on its own. It’s a shame then that the story here seems to have transitioned from being the first part of Hickman’s Avengers epic to a plot device to be used by his other crossover. Again, I’m not slamming Hickman, Yu, or anyone else working on Infinity, these are all really enjoyable books, but if I have to choose between chocolate and vanilla, I’m going to choose between the one with Thanos. Also the one that doesn’t needlessly sexualize a cosmic demigoddess out of nowhere.Continued below
Final Verdict: 7.2 – Buy! If you’re into Infinity and Hickman, Browse if you just want to know the basics for the rest of Infinity.