Advance Review: Infinity #1 (“A Marvel Comics Event”)

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infinity 197x300 Advance Review: Infinity #1 (A Marvel Comics Event)Infinity #1 is a Marvel Comics Event.  It says so on the first page.  I’d also say that might be slightly overstating things.  Having read an advance comic, I’d call it either an Avengers Event or a third Avengers title for the duration of the story.

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.

Comments

  1. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Why would you bother to review this if you hated it before you even opened it due to the writer?

  2. Todd Allen says:

    I didn’t hate it before I opened it. I do like some of Hickman’s Image work. And that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valid review. Unlike a LOT of reviewers, I will acknowledge my tastes when writing a review. It still made no attempt to reintroduce characters nobody would have heard of if they weren’t already reading the titles. Really, what’s the point of doing reviews if you only give 5 stars to everything?

  3. Silly but True says:

    Sorry to nitpick, but “cannons” go boom. I can’t blame you too much there, though. Because, I guess Marvel would have us believe with Age of Ultron that canons go boom too.

    Silly but True

  4. it’s canon, not cannon

  5. I’ve dropped Hickman’s Marvel Avengers series. I had high hopes for Infinity but with all of the artists playing musical chairs and the jarring difference between his Image work and Marvel work – it became clear that Hickman was not the only writer on Avengers/Infinity/etc. It’s pretty obvious editorial and their friends (ie Bendis) are responsible for huge chunks of this storyline.

    If your a fan of Hickman when he’s not being interfered with, you HAVE to check out: Manhattan Projects, East of West, and Secret all currently running at IMAGE COMICS. Really wonderful stuff.

    Marvel’s events policy WILL DISAPPOINT you. There’s no way Infinity will have an actual “ending”.

  6. “Having read an advance comic, I’d call it either an Avengers Event or a third Avengers title for the duration of the story.”

    Thank you for pointing that out. “Avengers” and “Marvel Universe” are getting far too interchangeable for my tastes.

  7. Hufnagel0 says:

    @Johnny Memeonic – I thought it was a great Tuesday review. Just because he didn’t dig it doesn’t mean that he didn’t help folks determine if they should spend their money on it tomorrow, and isn’t that what these advanced reviews are all about?

  8. Synsidar says:

    I buy Hickman’s Avengers titles to track developments, but I won’t be buying INFINITY. I’ve read comments to the effect that Hickman is writing SF, but there’s no science in the fiction. He might have been writing a type of New Age mysticism, but his treatment of Dr. Strange in NEW AVENGERS suggests that he doesn’t realize how cult-like his handling of the incursions is. The Builders are merely cosmic eugenicists. And Thanos–Starlin’s handling of him in THE END and in THANOS should have eliminated the possibility of him being a would-be conqueror. When a villain can be described as silly putty, it’s time for him to die. Permanently.

    SRS

  9. Strabo says:

    As I love Hickman’s books and even more so his current Avengers/New Avengers run this all sound pretty much perfect to me, even if it is probably meant as a negative review.

  10. Simon Jones says:

    I thought that it was a fair review, and at least Todd stated his biases at the outset.

    I have been enjoying Hickman’s run on Avengers thus far, and absolutely loved his run on Fantastic Four. Hickman is very much a long-form writer. You can’t necessarily come in and understand what’s going on if you haven’t read the previous issues. He demands a certain amount of attention from his readers. And no, that’s not very new reader friendly. Personally I like the fact that the reader is being treated with a little bit of intelligence. Could it all end up as a jumbled up, corporate driven mess- absolutely. But I hope not.

    I completely agree that Hickman’s creator owned work is a lot stronger though.

  11. hsssh says:

    One of the better reviews in the sea of “best event ever 4.5/5 stars!!!”.

    His work seems to be focused more on the plot than the characters, maybe its just me but i’m interested in super-hero comics due to characters and not due to some big plot going on.

    Not my cup of team.

  12. Synsidar says:

    His work seems to be focused more on the plot than the characters, maybe its just me but i’m interested in super-hero comics due to characters and not due to some big plot going on.

    No, Hickman tries to impress readers with sci-fi concepts and situations, but the actual plot material is very thin. Look at his use of Captain Universe–relying on the sentience of the universe, with all the cosmic characters there already are, to move events along, and how he resolves conflicts. The Avengers’ fight against the kid with the Starbrand and Nightmask consisted of a few splash pages. The Avengers beat the creatures in Perth in AVENGERS #16 by having Thor call down lightning.

    If Hickman isn’t going to have characters employ actual tactics to resolve situations, then the appearance of a plot is just a facade. SF writers have their characters use tactics, but that relies on extrapolation and use of limits to resolve the conflicts, and requires work. Hickman relies on the artwork and hand-waving.

    SRS

  13. I didn’t enjoy the issue either, Todd. I think Hickman’s Marvel work is best when he has the very strongest characters already at his use – the Fantastic Four are so strongly defined and simple that it doesn’t matter if his plotting ignores them. They stand on their own.

    On the other hand, many of the Avengers don’t have that immediate simplistic strength as characters, and so his work has felt more mechanical and there’s been less warmth. Infinity feels fairly dull and running on clockwork, to me, so far.

  14. Silly but True says:

    @Syn re: Silly Putty

    Interesting point. Comics are oft-maligned because of their deep impenetrable continuity. So, stunts are hatched to give people entry points.

    In Thanos’ case, we apparently get the worst of both worlds. Clearly this event is meant to capitalize on his recent movie infamy. Yet you suggest it’s not congruous with his turn as hero in series from a few years back. Well, a lot has actually happened since his eponymous ongoing series and The End. He assisted Annihilus and the Annihilation Wave, turned traiter (always was traitor) to free Galactus, was killed doing so by Drax.
    , and posthumously allowed Silver Surfer to complete the victory. He was then prematurely resurrected as the avatar of Oblivion, side effect being madness, and was crushed within a destroyed galaxy.

    The Thanos of this event is either still continuous with the clinically-mad / mentally deranged Avatar of Oblivion, or yet another new (off camera) resurrection for which we have no real information as to his personality.

    I generally accept the former.

    Certainly, one can quibble with where we’re at, but we’ve generally followed the story of how he is at this moment in time, I think.

  15. Synsidar says:

    I generally accept the former.

    Certainly, one can quibble with where we’re at, but we’ve generally followed the story of how he is at this moment in time, I think.

    Thanos is just a great example of people wanting to use a property, but straining to find a sensible use for him. I haven’t read recent storylines featuring him, largely because there’s no point. In light of his history as a nihilist and would-be god, and then THE END, wanting to conquer Earth makes no sense. It’s like a reincarnation of Hitler scheming to conquer a county in Montana.

    People at Marvel should be able to comprehend that some characters have been burned out–there’s nothing left for them to do. Would somebody set up the Rhino as a threat to the world? No, he’s a stupid thug with super strength. A character’s (well-written) roles define him.

    SRS

  16. Just read this issue.

    It was spectacular. Between the art, the focus on Black Bolt and the beautiful back up featuring Silver Surfer at the end, the book was full of awesome.

    Most events start of good but end up poorly but I’m having hope this one ends differently because of Hickman.

  17. Silly but True says:

    Not the Rhino, but didn’t we just have a few years back have Rhino-like petty also-rans get Thorish hammers and become threats to the world? I recall — along with the Thing — that Attuma… ATTUMA!?! Got one.

    But I don’t disagree with a basis for your cynicism in recognizing that they don’t actually want their characters to grow.

    I was just pointing out that THIS “mad Titan” isn’t that mad Titan. Because, well, he grew. Found a different outlook on life (and Death)… but then grew some more, having yet a different outlook. Circular character growth in deed? Perhaps. But his current madness is not quite his former madness. Due, in part, to a dense and impenetrable continuity subsequent to the stories you cited.

  18. Pappy says:

    Just wanted to reinforce everyone’s defense of this review against Johnny Memeonic’s comment. I’m not a fan of Hickman’s Avengers. But i was interested in Infinity as a Marvel event. And Todd Allen’s review was very helpful in telling me to stay away.

    Even if Todd’s opinions weren’t lining up with mine, it’s great for him to put his biases/background out there and then write a review from that perspective.

  19. Will be skipping this mini series? What’s the point in spending $3.99 x 6 = $24 bucks and not even get a conclusion to the story?
    This is what is killing comics today. Not being able to attract new readership by making a event series that forces you to know what is going on before hand and forcing the readership to stick around longer than they want.

  20. soon179 says:

    The inclusion of the old school spaceknights was great but pointless to include them just to kill them off.unless of course it lead up to the long awaited return of the first,greatest,and in turn last of the spaceknights.ROM.

  21. I hate event comics! The cover said “1 of 6″ so I thought it was self-contained. Bought the first three, and after reading issue one, I completely regret buying the other two. I have no idea what is going on, and no idea as to who some of the characters are. And I certainly don’t want to have to go out and buy another title to figure it out (and inevitably not know what is going on in their world as well). KISS (keep it simple stupid). Complexity doesn’t necessarily yield a good story. Jim Cheung is awesome though. :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Beat – Infinity #1 [...]

  2. [...] Todd Allen, The Beat: “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.” [...]

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