Marvel's Infinity miniseries is still a ways — and by "a ways," we mean, "about three months" — away from its start, but the publisher has been hyping it since early February, when it was announced that a prelude would serve as the bulk of its Free Comic Book Day offering this year.
The promotional efforts have been ramping up in the past week or so, with looks at upcoming covers and reveals of new characters that'll play a role in the story. Yet despite several advance interviews, there's still a healthy amount of mystery surrounding much of the plot itself — current major storyline Age of Ultron isn't even over yet for another month, after all — but we've combed through what's out there, and here's what we know so far about Marvel's latest big event.
The basics: Infinity is a six-issue series starting in August, from writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver; with Cheung illustrating issue #1.
The story is set to unfold on two fronts: Earth, which Thanos has targeted for an attack, and outer space, where the Avengers are confronting the threat of The Builders, which has been… building in the Hickman-written Avengers series.
"Infinity is really a two-part story," Hickman told CBR earlier this month. "Half of it takes place in the Marvel Universe; the other half takes place on Earth."
The bigger scale of the story will draw in characters from across the Marvel Universe, with the Inhumans stated to have a specifically vital role in the proceedings.
"There are huge plans for the Inhumans," Hickman told USA Today in April. "They're such great characters, and this will be a pretty good example of why."
Free Comic Book Day: This past May 4, Marvel's main offering for Free Comic Book Day was an Infinity prelude, one which focused squarely on Thanos.
The choice of Thanos for a significant story like this isn't a surprising one, the villain's cameo in the mid-credits of last year's Avengers. The Free Comic Book Day story sets up Thanos' motivations for attacking Earth, and introduces new characters working under him, specifically the uniquely named "Corvus Glave."
Marvel's FCBD issue also reprinted a 1977 Thanos from from Logan's Run #6, which featured a confrontation between he and current Guardians of the Galaxy member — and future Marvel Studios movie star — Drax the Destroyer.
Tie-ins: While Age of Ultron had has a limited amount of tie-ins — separated from the ongoing series with an "AU" added to the numbering — Infinity looks to open things up a bit, with Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort stating in a Marvel.com Q&A that it will be "more in line with Fear Itself" in terms of number of tie-ins.
And those tie-ins thus far have been confirmed to include Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble, Thunderbolts, Scarlet Spider, and, naturally, the Hickman-written Avengers and New Avengers.
The Avengers tie-ins will focus on the outer space story, with New Avengers picking things up back on Earth.
"I've joked around that this is could be like a 'Choose Your Own Event,' because you can read whichever bits of it you want and they all intersect," Hickman told CBR. "We don't repeat anything, but they all follow different characters on different journey. If you just want to read the Space Opera elements, you can just get the Space Opera issues. If you just want the Thanos stuff, you can just read the Thanos stuff."
Meanwhile, Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble will be an interconnecting tie-in set in outer space, both series written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Naturally, the Thunderbolts tie-in is set on Earth (as is, presumably, Scarlet Spider), and marks Charles Soule's first arc on the book as full-time writer.
The story, starting with August's issue #14, sees the Punisher leading the team in a strike against New York City's mob bosses as the Avengers are off world.
"Things will get massively complicated once the Infinity crossover begins, and the goal rapidly shifts from killing mob bosses to just trying to get out of the city alive," Soule told us last month.
New characters: Along with Thanos and the usual crew of Marvel heroes — Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Spider-Woman, Shang-Chi and Manifold all appear on the Arthur Adams-illustrated variant cover to Infinity #1 — the Infinity creative team look to be adding some new, so far pretty creepy, faces to the Marvel roster.
Along with the previously mentioned Corvus Glave (pictured on right), a "general to Thanos" designed by Cheung, New Avengers #9 looks to also debut "Black Dwarf" (pictured on left) and "Ebony Maw," two more Thanos allies, both designed by Opeña.
Also on the way: Proxima Midnight, designed by Hickman himself, and Supergiant, designed by Opeña, both part of Thanos' squad.
Skrulls: The Skrulls, the shapeshifting alien race that's been a thorn in the side of Marvel's heroes since 1962's Fantastic Four, haven't been seen much in the last few years following Secret Invasion, the Marvel event by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Francis Yu that detailed their long-term plot against Earth.
Yet they're returning in Infinity, and evidently as allies with the Avengers.
"The last time the Avengers faced an widescale extraterrestrial threat against Earth came when the shape-shifting Skrulls launched a Secret Invasion that nearly succeeded," said a Marvel press release promoting Avengers #18. "Now, as Earth's Mightiest Heroes journey out into the universe in hopes of thwarting another cosmic catastrophe, they must rely on their new allies...the Skrulls?"
Given the early state we're still in with Infinity's life cycle, there are likely still plenty more surprises to come — and probably even more once, y'know, the issues start coming out in a few months.