There have been a lot of little plot points that have either been unanswered or seemingly brushed aside and one of the biggest is what, exactly, Maximus’ device is actually for. That may have been the most burning, unanswered question in this series for me. Well, Jonathan Hickman has answered that question, and it’s one helluvan answer. We also get our first glance at Thane, the son of Thanos and one of the main reasons that Thanos decided to come to Earth after the Avengers left. While all this is going on, Thor is sent to negotiate the terms of surrender with the Builders, because when you think diplomat, you think the drunkest, rowdiest Avenger. So yes, there is definitely something else going on. The writing in this book remains absolutely top-notch, balancing great characterization with absolutely top-notch action. A complaint I’ve seen is that the characters aren’t really developing, but I’ve never thought an event like this is for “development” as much as it is “solidifying.” Despite the vast, far-reaching cast, every character is written as they should be and it’s especially great seeing Captain America’s mind used tactically from somewhere besides the front line. It’s like when creators remember that Spider-Man has a genius-level intellect or that Batman is an amazing detective: something not everyone does, but everyone should.
Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver’s art is, as always, top-notch and with Justin Ponsor coloring both, the tone and styles meld to the point that I hardly noticed the shift. Maintaining pace and tone is absolutely critical for an issue and that is certainly the case here. But more than maintaining, the art is clean and eye-catching, when action occurs (which, again, is not terribly often), it has a bone-shaking impact, particularly as Black Bolt and Thanos square off, and the dialog scenes are well blocked, with the characters’ body language communicating as much as their words. Something that doesn’t often get praised enough are truly great backgrounds. It’s one of the most frequently cut corners, but that is never the case here and it gives every panel a great sense of place and context.
A very specific character’s fate is left very, very vague, seemingly intentionally so, but it also seems like a somewhat blatant misdirect. I could be wrong about this, and I actually hope I am, but it stuck out to me. We’re still not sure exactly WHY Thanos wants his son dead so badly as it seems to transcend his normal lust for killing. It’s fine that not everything has been explicitly spelled out, but even a hint or inkling would be nice.
Infinity remains an absolutely top-notch event book, one that’s easy to pick up on its own, but becomes richer the more side-titles you read. The core book stands perfectly, though, and should be an example to all future “event” books. This issue also retains a trend that I’ve very much enjoyed in that the tide begins to turn against the antagonist gradually, so the book’s finale seems less pulled from out of nowhere or reliant on a deus ex machina to snap its fingers and make everything okay again. The pacing is amazing, the plotlines are skillfully juggled, and the characters are riveting. Add to that the sharp, intense art and you’ve got one great issue of a spectacular event.