Even before Infinity became a thing, Jonathan Hickman had a good thing going with New Avengers. The book was, in addition to juggling extra-dimensional Incursions and the fate of the Infinity Gems, dealing with the fallout of Namor drowning Wakanda while in possession of the Phoenix Force, and dealings were not going well. So as much as I’ve been enjoying Infinity, there was SOME trepidation about this amazing B-plot being relegated to the back-burner, and even forgotten. Jonathan Hickman, in this issue, lets readers know that he doesn’t intend to forget a single moment. The Cull Obsidian, Thanos’ elite five lieutenants, descend upon Earth searching for the one unbroken Infinity Gem: the Gem of Time. While Black Dwarf assails Wakanda with a small army, the Ebony Maw immobilizes and attempts to control Dr. Strange. Meanwhile Supergiant and Corvus Glaive attack the Jean Grey School and Proxima Midnight delivers an ultimatum to Namor. These seemingly disparate threads all certainly serve a greater whole and they call come together in a shocking way by the end of the issue. And don’t think Hickman’s left Black Bolt out of the fun because he has what might be the most important role to fulfill. Like so many issues before, these characters could all feel like they got short-shrift, like they’re being passed over for the sake of plot expediency, but Hickman balances everything perfectly, pacing the book immaculately and never letting the grandiose scope get away from him.
Mike Deodato remains steadfast on art and brings an absolutely amazing vision and tone to the title. He brings a truly unified and fascinating look to the book, whether that be through action or interaction. Deodato uses very earthy colors and keeps the entire look of the book very subdued and grounded, which is why it’s so amazing that it looks as great as it does in a book involving intergalactic invaders. It keeps the book feeling appropriately dark, though never feeling entirely grim. The only real action takes place on the ground in Wakanda and, briefly, in the skies over New York, but it all looks fantastic. Deodato captures the fluid, deadly grace of the Panthers as well as the overwhelming power of the defenses Tony Stark and Reed Richards provide.
I have no complaints about this issue. Even if you haven’t been following New Avengers, but are interested in Infinity, you can jump onto this title.
Hickman is officially three-for-three on his Infinity titles. There’s absolutely nothing to dislike here between his incredible pacing and characterization with Deodato’s pitch-perfect panels. Over the last several years, since the very first Annihilation books, Marvel has refocused on their cosmic characters and settings, but they’ve been writing them like more grounded books: characters first, and this issue is one of the best examples of that. The problem with so many cosmic comics, and cosmic media in general, is that it feels detached or removed from real events or consequences, but that’s no longer the case. This issue illustrated that characterization is a number one priority for this upcoming event. Even if you’re sick of Marvel’s giant, world-shattering events, even if this event reverts back to the status quo and doesn’t really change anything, it’s well constructed enough that the titles are, so far, very much worth picking up.