Marvel's latest "Next Big Thing" press conference is slated for Friday, with Avengers and New Avengers writer Jonathan Hickman and Marvel senior vice president of publishing Tom Brevoort talking the August-debuting Infinity event.
As usual, we will be live on the line, providing updates as they happen — so keep refreshing this page for the latest.
"The story of Infinity is sort of a direct outgrowth of the events that have been building slowly in Avengers and New Avengers," Brevoort explains. "It is a big, epic, space sci-fi spectacular. It's a war fought on two fronts, as the Avengers, and most of Earth's big heroes, have to head out to the outer reaches of the cosmos to deal with a threat that's coming this way. While that is happening, seeing an opportunity, Thanos picks this moment to descend on a largely unprotected Earth, looking for that which Thanos desires."
"These two arms of the story will intersect and dovetail" before Infinity is over, Brevoort adds.
Brevoort emphasizes the importance of the Hickman-written Avengers and New Avengers tie-in issues of Infinity. "There are events that will take place in the core Infinity series that will be greatly expanded and illuminated in a significant way in the Avengers and New Avengers issues. It's really not wrong to say that these are virtually as important as the core book." Brevoot says that even the cover format will reflect this important; as the Avengers and New Avengers tie-in issues will have a cover dress that is very close to that of the main Infinity miniseries.
"It's possible that we solicited a six-issue miniseries, and are shipping a 16-issue one," Hickman says.
Speaking of the artists on the main series, Hickman says, "Dustin [Weaver] and Jerome [Opeña] are fantastic artists who are equally adept at world-building and character interaction. Writing for those guys is always a pleasure." Opeña is doing the outer space sequences in issues #2-#5, Weaver is doing the Earth scenes.
Hickman says that he's asked for Jim Cheung on "pretty much everything," and it was "such a pleasure to get to see him draw the stuff that I was writing. He makes it so much better. Just such an amazing artist." Cheung is drawing issue #1 and issue #6, the final installment of the series. Hickman also praises Mike Deodato's art on the New Avengers issues, and Leinil Yu's on the Avengers section.
First press question, from CBR: What's the nature of the outer space threat that the Avengers will be dealing with? Hickman says before Infinity, he was always going to do a story called "Avengers Universe" in the Avengers books. "This is basically the culmination of everything we started on Avengers #1," with the looming threat of the Builders.
Next press question, from us: Will any unexpected characters step up and play a big role in Infinity? "I think you'll see more from Starbrand, and to a lesser degree Nightmask," Brevoort replies. "You'll see more from the Ex Nihilo and Abyss. And you'll see a lot more of Black Bolt and the Inhumans, they play a big role in this as well, that is perhaps unexpected." Brevoort also mentions Gladiator and the Imperial Guard, plus Ronan and the Supreme Intelligence. "This is as big a story in terms of scale that has been done in the Marvel Universe."
Next press question, from IGN: How much does Infinity deal with the recent ongoing events of New Avengers? "All of that factors directly into Infinity," Brevoort answers.
Next press question, from Word Balloon: What's the pacing, and how many tie-ins? It's four months, August to November, Brevoort says. "In terms of tie-ins, compared to Age of Ultron — a lot more," especially with the Avengers books. In the past, Brevoort has compared the numbers of tie-ins to that of 2011's Fear Itself.
Next press question, from Marvel.com: Will Infinity go into any other aspects of Thanos' history, beyond what's been seen in Thanos Rising? "Thanos Rising is designed to be your one-stop shopping for the background of Thanos," Brevoort answers, saying that Infinity will be "forward-looking." "Infinity will be about what Thanos is doing now, and what Thanos wants now."
"It starts now and moves forward," Hickman says. "We don't do any introspective look back at all, in terms of Thanos."
Going back around, another question from CBR: Has Thanos been strengthened by no longer being defined along with the Infinity Gauntlet? Brevoort says that since the Infinity Gauntlet story was so popular, Thanos is linked to the object, but his history has included many motivating factors, including the Cosmic Cube. "In that regard, Infinity is no diferent," Brevoort says. "It's not Infinity Gauntlet 2. [The title] Infinity doesn't necessarily have to do with the Infinity Gauntlet so much as it does the scope and scale, which will become more apparent as you read the book."
Back to us: What can you say about the creation of Thanos' allies, and the motivation to add more to his world? "There are some long-term reasons why Thanos needed some additional characters around him; some of the stuff that's going to be coming out of Infinity that we're excited about," Hickman answers. "We had a lot of characters, so we needed a bunch of pieces to play with. They're each individually really cool characters that I had a lot of fun making up. The designs by Jerome are wonderful. They're colorful characters with cool names, which is never a bad thing. You'll see most of it in New Avengers, because most of that is Earth-based stuff. You'll see most of those guys in play there, until we get closer to the end of the story."
Next question, from IGN: How mindful is Marvel of the movies as Infinity is put together, given that Thanos is clearly playing a role in the Marvel Studios films in the future? Brevoort says that Marvel publishing knows about as much as the readers do, but the mid-credits appearance in last year's Avengers movie created a lot of interest in the character. "It certainly doesn't hurt us at all that he was on 10 million movie screens and a billion DVD players recently. I absolutely hope to take advantage of that." But ultimately, Brevoort says, Marvel publishing is doing the same thing they always do.
Hickman adds that they're doing as big of a story as they can do, which will lead to only bigger things from there.
Next question, from Word Balloon: Whose idea was it to use the New Universe characters — Brevoort or Hickman's? Hickman says it was his. "Whenever you pitch something like, 'I have a great idea for Hyperion.' Or Starbrand. Or something like that," Hickman says, "Tom is very enthusiastic and supportive, and Dan Buckley and Joe Quesada and Axel [Alonso] is on the other side of the table kind of smirking, saying, 'Good luck.'" Essentially, Hickman says, the impression is, good if you can make it work, but don't forget about Captain America and Thor.
Last question, from Marvel.com: Given that "Battle of the Atom" will be going on at the same time, how much will the X-Men be involved in Infinity? Brevoort says they won't necessarily be front and center in Infinity, but they won't be absent from it, either, and you'll be seeing them right from the start.
"I think my first draft had Corvus carrying around Wolverine's severed head like a pumpkin, but Tom made me take it out," Hickman says. "They're in there, but not quite to the extent that maybe hardcore X-fans would want. The mutants that are affiliated with the Illuminati are very big in this."
To wrap up: Infinity #1 is out in August. The Free Comic Book Day preview of the event, released this past May, will also be made available again, digitally.