Best Shots Advance Review: INFINITY #1
CREDIT: Marvel Comics
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Jim Cheung, John Livesay, David Meikis, and Justin Ponsor
Letters by Chris Eliopoulos and Joe Caramagna
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by George Marston
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Well, here we are. We've arrived at our first stopgap since the Marvel NOW! relaunch that came in the wake of Avengers Vs. X-Men. Following in the recent Marvel tradition of one event begetting another, Infinity kicks off by immediately organizing many of the disparate threads laid out by the various Avengers titles, as well as seeds sewn in the Fantastic Four family of books. While this intro to Marvel's next big event does feel a little jittery given the hard cuts in time and space, Infinity does have the advantage of feeling more organic than many of Marvel's recent crossovers.
Following, on one side, the Builders, the universal creators introduced in Avengers, as they cut a swath across the galaxy, pruning and tending the "garden" of their creations, Infinity ambitiously sets a cosmic stage not dissimilar to that of the galaxy reeling from the Phoenix Force's path of destruction in AvX. With the Avengers jetting off to intercept and engage the Creators alongside numerous other alien empires, the premise feels awfully familiar awfully soon. On the other hand, with the involvement of Thanos, there is more here than a re-hashed premise. This first issue hints at Thanos's goals while wisely restricting his appearances to small glimpses, and instead focusing on his lieutenants, the Black Order, effectively capitalizing on the anticipation generated by Thanos's appearance in last year's Avengers film.
Jonathan Hickman also takes Infinity as an opportunity to solidify concepts that he's bandied about elsewhere, such as the growing rift in the the Inhuman kingdom, and finally, officially confirming the re-introduction of the Spaceknights of Galador. The latter development will no doubt thrill fans despite the distinct lack of a specific member of that group, probably stemming from ongoing copyright disputes. Despite the excitement that many readers will no doubt feel from the return of the Spaceknights, Infinity does run the risk of being spread too thin, and taken too far from its core story, a fate that has befallen Hickman's own Avengers as it has spent less screen time telling stories about its heroes than introducing and re-introducing new concepts for the Marvel universe using the Avengers as a platform. With so many various casts in so many locations, Infinity already feels like it's struggling to keep up with itself.
On the other hand, Jim Cheung's art is absolutely the highlight of Infinity #1. Despite his absence from sequential work at Marvel in recent months, Cheung's art remains the definitive take on Marvel's core universe. Cheung's Avengers, his Inhumans, and his take on the various alien empires in Infinity read like the baseline for Marvel comics, the standard against which these types of stories should be measured. His Black Bolt and Captain Marvel in particular absolutely scream off the page, showcasing power and confidence backed up by Hickman smartly using Black Bolt as the crux of Thanos's plot, and Carol Danvers as the Avenger best equipped to lead the team into space.
There's a lot to like about Infinity. With almost a year of stories in various titles shoring up its launch, it doesn't have the abrupt, forced tempo of events like AvX. On the other hand, there are some striking similarities to Marvel's last cosmic epic, something that Infinity will need to distance itself from. Still, there is plenty of fodder for a much richer tale than Marvel has told in its last few crossovers, and Jonathan Hickman is Marvel's premiere author of these kind of stories. With fan-favorite characters returning in its pages and one of the best mainstream superhero artists in the world on board, Infinity has nothing but possibilities ahead.