Marvel events, regardless of how they end up turning out, always seem to have great opening issues. Whether it’s a ship full of Skrulls landing in the Savage Land or it’s Captain America leaping out of a Helicarrier while S.H.I.E.L.D agents open fire on him, Marvel know how to nail that first issue. So does Marvel’s newest event, the Avengers-centric Infinity, follow that trend?
Infinity is the next step in Jonathan Hickman’s ongoing master plan for the Avengers franchise. An ancient race, the Builders, are obliterating entire planets while heading right for Earth. Meanwhile on Titan, long-time Avengers villain Thanos is also crafting a plan that will draw him to Earth.
Hickman’s Avengers run has been moving with an undercurrent of dread all along. Infinity continues that theme of approaching doom. Earth’s chances feel apocalyptically low with the Avengers seeming far more vulnerable than they ever have in recent years. Despite the large cast, the threat they’re facing is still of a colossal magnitude. Everything in the issue culminates to build a scenario where the Avengers look set up to lose. Which works really well. With a story of this scope it needs to feel as if everything is on the line and that’s delivered perfectly here.
As for what actually takes place, this issue is mostly set-up as we’re introduced to the villains while the heroes figure out what’s going on and take steps to prepare themselves. There’s also a great sequence involving an infiltration of Attilan which is much more personal. It’s perhaps not as explosive a start as we sometimes get but it’s a strong issue nevertheless, those looking for action will find enough however as we catch up with what the Builders are up to. Spoilers, they’re blowing stuff up.
Art is handled by Jim Cheung who does a great job. Stylised characters and detailed backdrops paint a thrilling picture. The alien antagonists look dangerous and intimidating, the Skrulls by comparison look downright comical. With the dark atmosphere of the story the more serious looking enemies fit right in.
Although it reprints content from the Free Comic Book Day issue, there’s still a chunk of new content here. The story moves at a good pace with lots going on. At the end of the issue I felt like it was the perfect length, no space was wasted but it never drags on either.
For those wondering, can you can read Infinity without reading Hickman’s Avengers or New Avengers? I’d say no. The issue opens with a scene from a recent issue of New Avengers while the Builders were established very early on in Avengers. It’s too soon to answer with complete certainty, but thus far this is part of the ongoing saga and not an unrelated tale by any means. For those who have been following one, or both, series then Infinity is an essential read. What’s happening here is directly tied to earlier and upcoming developments and it continues with the same high quality that Hickman has already set. The bleak tone may turn some people off, but if you can embrace the new doom infused direction there’s an enjoyable story here.