Events Done Right in Writer Jonathan Hickman and Company’s Infinity 6 [Review]

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By Jeffrey O. Gustafson

INFINITY2013006 LRCB 1 197x300 Events Done Right in Writer Jonathan Hickman and Companys Infinity 6 [Review]Damn Events. Maybe it’s just a marketing term, but as I noted above, it’s a matter of scale. I’m sick of the term, and a little tired of the Events themselves, but Infinity is an Event by marketing and by definition. Going back to the cycle events that started in the age of Nu-Marvel, most have just been vehicles for launching other things, or killing characters. But Infinity is different. Sure, it’s the same in some things, but the quality is different, the structure is different, and the finished product is completely unalike any event. It’s Marvel’s differentest Event, and it’s Marvel’s best.

Strong words in a cycle that gave us Civil War, but the goal posts were/are different. Civil War was very much a vehicle for other things, and while flawed, was quite good. It also set a standard of sales and expectations that following events haven’t quite met. So I’m not really applying the same kind of standards, and looking at Infinity as its own unique order of Event storytelling. And unique is a great way to describe it. Writer Jonathan Hickman is a rare talent. His creator-owned books of the past year have been some of the best mainstream comics being published. And indeed, Infinity – the whole rigamarole that includes Avengers and New Avengers – might be the year’s best Superhero comic.

Let’s start with the art. Infused with Hickman’s distinct visual design aesthetic, Infinity features the prodigious talents of (alphabetically) Jimmy Cheung, Mike Deodato, Jerome Opena, Dustin Weaver, Lenil Francis Yu, and more. I can get frustrated with inconsistent art. But different is not always inconsistent and the art teams were consistent with the different stories Hickman was naturally telling. And damned good at it, too. Yu’s stuff suffers a little in the end, but otherwise the entire team is flawless, even Deodato (who I usually don’t really get, I guess) who changed up his style. Any series with 100 pages of Jimmy Cheung is a graphic-novel’s worth of content, more than worth the trip. Infinity 6 stars Cheung with an assist from Weaver, who give the work detail and care, the flash and energy they bring to the proceedings, the scope and execution of the grand space-operatic Epic and superpowered battling. Hickman and Marvel give them a ton of space to play and they tackle the proceedings with glee. If you haven’t been reading Infinity to this point, then picking up issue six might seem like a pointless exercise if not for the visual astonishments, and there are plenty.

The story in issue six is all action and it’s big big BIG. By this point, Hickman’s already pulled out all the stops. The twist of Inhumanity came a couple of issues ago, the juicy space opera elements have come and gone, the incursion has been averted. But Hickman keeps creating more stops to pull. This is all in the genius of the series’ structure. Secret Invasion, another invasion story as a point of comparison, was all decompressed middle and a silly twist to set up some other nonsense. But Infinity is so much more and then some. There’s been so many amazing visuals from the falls of Wakanda and Attilan, to the glorious space battles, to the Illuminati’s machinations, to every single thing involving Black Bolt. There sheer amount of story that is going on, has gone on, so masterfully juggled and interwoven by Hickman, complex yet accessible, all funnels into this finale issue.

Infinity is dense, thrilling, beautiful, intense piece of superhero sci-fi comic storytelling. The final main chapter is the capstone to this grand epic. Hickman’s vision with this story was clear and the execution flawless. And this is a fun, visually stunning (in story and art and Ideas) mainstream productions, written by one of the comic medium’s best talents.

Jeffrey O. Gustafson is a Brooklyn-based comics blogger and the creator and writer of The Comic Pusher blog at ComicPusher.com

Comments

  1. Synsidar says:

    If you haven’t been reading Infinity to this point, then picking up issue six might seem like a pointless exercise if not for the visual astonishments, and there are plenty.

    I haven’t been reading INFINITY, although I have read the AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS tie-ins. A few things stood out:

    Thanos isn’t believable as a would-be conqueror of Earth. If the rationale is that, well, his repeated deaths and resurrections changed him, then he’s a different character with the same name and appearance. Unfortunately.

    Captain Universe defeated the Builders by herself. A mysteriously powerful force contained by a human host is still a mysteriously powerful, too handy to be acceptable, force.

    The battles between the allies and the Builders were, in effect, a land war fought in space. If technology wasn’t going to affect how the battles were fought, then Hickman shouldn’t have set the battles in outer space. The mechanics of FTL travel made the location of Earth, relative to the Builders, irrelevant.

    SRS

  2. Speaking of marketing, all this gushing & swooning over Hickman’s Avengers & Infinity seems more like a press release than an actual review.

    Truth be told, we’ve now gone from taking 324 comics spread out over multiple titles & several years to tell a simple 6 issue tale – to redefining epics & events themselves to be as vague-yet-important-sounding as humanly possible. Strip all the tinsel & bullshit away and you’re left with a fairly weak plot & even weaker characterization.

    If you want to see how to do ‘cosmic’ right, look no further than to the guy who actually created Thanos.

  3. MHF,

    Thanks for your comments. This was a tough one to write about under certain restrictions: no spoilers, no art. Also, as the last part of a much larger 20-something part epic. Looking at it, the wording of the review is a little too fluffy, but, heck, I genuinely enjoyed this comic.

  4. Chris Hero says:

    Wait, what? Hickman is now “one of the comic medium’s best talents???” Wow…. I mean, I guess if someone’s never read any other comics or books or flyers on street lights or anything really, it would be possible to think that. I mean, I know superhero readers can be prone to hyperbole and sometimes have a limited paradigm, but there are other superhero comic creators out there you can choose from, too.

  5. Sorry, but are you referring to the Eisner-nominated Jonathan Hickman?

  6. Synsidar says:

    If there was any reason for Thanos being in INFINITY other than Marvel considering him a hot property, it’s not apparent. The Inhumans were jammed into the storyline as well. If INFINITY had been just the Avengers et al., vs. the Builders, with the Avengers coming up with a way to defeat them, the storyline might have been good. Hickman was burdened with editorial mandates.

    SRS

  7. johnrobiethecat says:

    Infinity was just another case of Superheroeah….Its a very polished bad apple. Too many superheroes in a panel, too many spaceships in a panel and not much story. I tried skimming through the issues and its just a big stew of started and abandoned ideas and then Thanos or some Halloween warlord punches somebody. The artists looked kind of good skill wise but awful, just awful storytellers. They seemed trapped in a realm of fan art pinups posing as panels. A lot of standing around in a bridge talking about the next move for like 10 pages very stiff and slow. (dialog like “Will it work Cap?” “Its the best we’ve got Carol!” or something like that) It looked more like a collection of Tumblr fan art shots stuck in a comic book page under the guise of a galactic story . Of course , Marvel tried to gouge whatever suckers were left at $6 on the last issue. The contempt the corporate comic industry has for its audience and why its still rewarded just baflles me.

  8. I mean this with every ounce of my being: you can never have too many spaceships.

    There’s not much story progression in issue six aside from the solid endings, because all the set-up and character stuff and a bunch of cool big action sequences were in the first 20ish parts. That makes the book a mite inaccessible if you were just picking it up. Tends to happen with longer serialized fiction. But it is one hell of a beautifully rendered piece of superhero action. It’s not great literature, but as a whole its a damn fine piece of superhero sci-fi.

    Six bucks is a lot, but it needs to be looked at a simple per page value in comparison to modern output. For better or worse, 60+ pages of story is about three issues, which varies between $9-12. You get those sixty, uninterrupted by serialization, great looking pages from A-List talents executing a great HD widescreen epic Epic, for six bucks. This is what superhero comics are for! Good fun that hits all kinds of cool notes. This apologetic of mainstream comics defects because its not mean to be. Sometimes mainstream publishers make fun, giant, dense schlocky, entertaining comics. And that’s ok!

    But as purty as it is, I wouldn’t recommend picking it up unless you’ve been reading it up to this point. Wait for the trade, it’ll be worth it. But if you’ve been reading the floppies up to this point, go for it – it’s a good story value and worth those six bucks you allot to superhero purchases each week. If you don’t get superhero comics, good grief read Hawkeye instead.

  9. Johnny Memeonic says:

    I don’t know what to think about Infinity. It feels like it was supposed to be about the larger plot running in Hickman’s Avengers (re: the Builders) and the Thanos stuff was forcibly inserted into the story. And the Builders part of it just read like it was the next arc in Hickman’s book rather than an “event.”

    It was never clear why Thanos wanted to kill his own son beyond a passing mention that Thanos is crazy so he doesn’t need motivation. I’m also not sure why turning his father into an Starlin homage statue has suddenly set the son on a path to become a worse galactic killer than Thanos himself. The whole Thanos part of the event was way too loose compared to the rest.

    That said, the incursion plot of New Avengers remains the most compelling plot in Big Two super-hero comics. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get ruined by event mandates from higher up.

  10. Synsidar says:

    This is what superhero comics are for! Good fun that hits all kinds of cool notes. This apologetic of mainstream comics defects because its not mean to be. Sometimes mainstream publishers make fun, giant, dense schlocky, entertaining comics.

    Fun for whom?

    It really is hard to criticize a superhero story for continuity flaws, sexism, mischaracterization, hackneyed plotting, or assorted other problems, if your attitude toward a particular story is that it’s fun. A ten-year-old can go to a movie, be thrilled by the special effects, and leave thinking that the movie was fantastic and recommend it to all his buddies, because it doesn’t occur to him that a special-effects extravaganza can also have a story, if the producers make the effort.

    The presence of Thanos and the handling of him are enough for someone to dismiss INFINITY as a stunt without reading a page of it. Such things make me nostalgic for the days of series when, however bad a particular issue or storyline was, the damage was limited to that issue, or to the one series. Marvel now is more of a toy manufacturer which tries to push its toys hard thru events than it is a publisher which has creators tell the stories they want to tell.

    SRS

  11. paul houston says:

    A pretty looking series, but terribly executed. Last issue in particular was very weak.
    Can we say – status quo?

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