It is truly a testament to the amazing skills of pacing that this event, in only five issues, feels like it could have been two events, and that’s not a negative. Obviously, there’s been help from side issues filling in story beats, but even Infinity, on its own, has felt massively expansive, yet somehow also personal, like everyone has an equal stake in it regardless of their position. Jonathan Hickman’s superhero space opera is nearly complete, but before the curtain is called, there’s still the matter of Earth and Thanos’ legions. We also finally get an answer as to why, exactly, Thanos is so intent on murdering his son, and while the answer may be expected, it is still satisfying. The reveal, and now awakening, of Thane has been one of the slower burns in this series, so I’m extremely intrigued to see the role he’ll be playing not only in the final issue but in the future of the Marvel Universe. We’ve seen very little of him, but he’s been written with such an economy that he feels more fleshed out than he has any right to.
Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver’s art still seamlessly blend from one scene to the next while still being able to strike their own tones and tenors, thanks to Justin Ponsor’s work as colorist across the entire issue. I’ve said it before, but having two (or more) line artists on one title CAN work as long as the styles compliment each other and aren’t just arbitrarily switched between, both of which happen here. The action is mostly snapshots, against striking the tone of a war documentary taking a retrospective look at the battles, and this lends it an air of gravitas that the series uses to great effect, making every battle, even the ones we only caught glimpses of, seem grand and important. There’s also an amazing early scene with the Hulk that I won’t spoil here, but that makes me absolutely love the characters’ seeming rebirth in the Marvel U.
It’s not really a spoiler, but I’ll block it out anyway. To those curious, it has to do with the events of last issue and is a very minor quibble. The Builders seem like they’re falling a little too easily here. From last issue’s absolutely incredible reveal of their mortality, it seems that they were functioning more as legends than anything else as they now fall in droves. I get the importance of morale and psychology in a war setting, but this takes that to a very, very literal place where now that it’s been demonstrated that Builders can die, they do so with incredible ease. It’s not quite “stopping them with the power of hope within the human heart,” levels of metaphysics, but it’s a little closer than I’d like in a series that has had very concrete, steady explanations for things.
The above (again, minor) complaint certainly doesn’t reach deus ex machina levels, and for that I’m glad, it’s just a slight sticking point. This issue is a completely worthy chapter in what has been Marvel’s best event in a long, long time. Even if you’ve been reticent to read “big superhero events,” this one should be given its day in court. This issue, in particular, strikes a great balance between downtime and incredible developments in terms of plot and even some characters. If they can stick the landing, I think Hickman and company will have created something truly special with this event.