Jonathan Hickman now has so much momentum, I think he may have uncovered the Crimson Gem of Cyttoraak. Just when I worry an issue of Infinity is going to lean to heavily on its two main side titles (Avengers and New Avengers), another issue comes out and stands beautifully on its own, while still gaining context from the other two titles. This book picks up just before the very end of Avengers #19, but does a great job of recapping the major event at the end of that issue, moving this issue into perfect alignment without baffling or taking too much time. Suffice it to say: a failed entreaty for basic sanity has backfired in the most catastrophic way possible and the Galactic Council is now more on the ropes than they've ever been. But the Builders, and a few Council members, seem to have forgotten that if you look under "give up" in Captain America's lexicon, you'll find a massive blank. Cap has a plan and he's not the only one as Thanos continues to barter with Black Bolt for the one thing he has that has kept the Inhumans from being utterly decimated by the Cull Obsidian.
Jerome Opeña is keeping things grim and jagged, but in ways that serve the story and the tone amazingly. This may be a cosmic tale, but it's about the people at the center of it and seeing both the grandiose and the intimate portrayed with equal deftness and skill is a rare trait for any comic, let alone one that takes place on such a sweeping scale. Dustin Weaver lends his talent to the issue as well, though I actually have something of a difficult time separating where one ends and the other begins, which I hope doesn't sound insulting as Justin Ponsor's colors are consistently excellent throughout the book. The two styles merge and segue very, very well, so the pace and tone of the book remains completely consistent throughout.
A major revelation from Avengers #19 is teased, even acknowledged, but nothing is done and it has to do with easily the most significant event in the book (the one at the very beginning) and even has to do with loyalties and motivations of one of the most influential members of the Council. It's all brushed aside somewhat casually for expediency's sake without anyone even asking any follow-up. It's not a HUGE departure, and they definitely make reference to dealing with it later, but it seems like it's a potentially dire situation that's on the back burner.
One of the things that bothers me about a lot of large-scale superhero events (and something that actually crosses into other genres as well) is when a story is nothing but failure and hopelessness on the parts of the heroes until suddenly, miraculously even, everything turns on either a deus ex machina or for even flimsier reasons, and that's not what we're getting in this series. We're only halfway through the main series, but this issue represents a big tonal shift, and while everything is far from solved, there's definitely a glimmer of hope. This is a book that seamlessly mixes its action and its exposition/dialog and an issue that feels much, much longer than it actually is, and I mean that in the most positive way I can. There's so much amazing content crammed into these pages that this feels like it should be oversized, but it's not, and that reason alone is enough to pick up Infinity. Second printings of earlier issues are beginning, so this is a great time to catch up if you were worried about ANOTHER major Marvel event this year.