Filed under: Exquisite Reviews | Tags: Alasdair Stuart, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Chris Eliopoulous, Dave Meikis, Dustin Weaver, Ebony Maw, Guillermo Ortego, hawkeye, Hulk, Ive Svorcina, Jim Cheung, John Livesay, jonathan hickman, Justin Ponsor, Mark Morales, Thane, Thanos
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Pencils by Jim Cheung and Dustin Weaver
Inks by Mark Morales with Dustin Weaver, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, Jim Cheung and John Livesay
Colour Art by Justin Ponsor and Ive Svorcina
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos
Published by Marvel
So, let’s open with a spoiler; the good guys win. Except of course it isn’t a spoiler, because they were always going to. The last issue of a crossover like this is arguably the hardest, as the writer has to not only put their toys back in the box but ideally set up the game for the next person. Done wrong you get too much of Age of Ultron. Done right, you get this.
Hickman puts enough of the toys back in the pram to satisfy the needs of the Marvel universe and no more. You get the Avengers back home, the rebuilding effort summarised in a nice splash page and closure on everything to do with Thanos’ invasion. The local galactic worlds have all seen what the Avengers are capable of, they’ve all seen what happens when they work as a unified force and now a golden age of cooperation is set to dawn.
Or, it would be, if anyone else was writing this.
In Hickman’s hands, we see the events both as they stand and as a historical event. The war is over and everything’s the same. The war is over and everything has changed and as the issue goes along, Hickman neatly throws one toy away for every one that gets tidied up. For example, the Inhumans are everywhere now, and the payoff to that is arguably the finest moment of the series. There’s been a lot of speculation about whether this is Marvel working the Inhumans up as an X-Men replacement for their movies but it really doesn’t matter. Instead, Hickman shows you just how much the world has already changed and gives you a glimpse of what might still be to come.
The Thanos and Thane plot is just as impressive. Here the toys are literally put away even as they’re changed forever. Thane’s interactions with Ebony Maw come completely out of left field but make perfect sense and set up a fascinating future dynamic. This is where the book’s fascination with history becomes clear too, as we see the transformation of one man into something larger, a Shakespearean tyrant for the ages. Or at least the stars. And then there’s Thanos, completely defeated, completely present and the Faustian bargain he represents for the illuminati. Earth is rebuilt but the foundations of the Avengers’ victory may not be the ones they wanted.
The crowning achievement of the story lands in the back few pages. From the conversation between Inhuman royalty to the final, chilling image, Hickman shows us that nothing really changes even as everything does. A series of panels take us around the galaxy, show us how much worse things have got and set the stage for what’s to come. All while still telling a complete story.
Infinity brings Marvel’s year into land on a roaring success. Hickman’s Avengers work is remarkable, balancing huge stories with character beats that have the emotional impact his work has lacked at times in the past. Cheung and Weaver’s art likewise balances spectacle with character and the final image of Ebony Maw is particularly chilling. Weaver, Ortego, Meikis, Cheung and Livesay do excellent work on inks, with character and detail in lockstep throughout. Finally, Ponsor and Svorcina’s deep, naturalistic colours and Eliopoulos’ letters communicate everything needed to complete the book. The end result is a story that works on every level and sets up the next chapters of the Marvel universe. 2014 looks to be a bad year for its heroes, but a very, very good one for us.
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