Infinity has been a brilliant read so far. To this point, Infinity has been the most intelligent and complex Marvel big event that we have ever had. Hickman is weaving a complex tapestry full of interesting plotlines and characters. Now, Hickman often gets lost in the maze of his own plotting as the story progresses. Therefore, it will be interesting to see if this big event becomes bogged down or unfocused as it progresses. Let’s go ahead and check out Infinity #2.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Jerome Opena & Dustin Weaver
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Thanos’ troops taking over The P.E.A.K. Agent Brand and a few S.W.O.R.D. agents seek shelter in part of the P.E.A.K. that is like a safe room. Brand is informed that Thanos’ troops have not bothered to ry and access any of their information on their computer database. Instead, all they have done is to take control of the automated targeting system. Brand realizes that the troops are trying to bring the rest of Thanos’ army to their location. Suddenly, we see the rest of Thanos’ warships appear outside of the P.E.A.K.
“The Gauntlet” We see Corvus marching into the Throne Room in Attilan along with several of his soldiers. Corvus demands to speak with the King of the Inhumans. Corvus introduces himself and explains the purpose of the Cull Obsidian and that he serves Thanos. Medusa tells Corvus that many have come to Attilan making demands and they have all died. Corvus says that Thanos’ troops are not afraid of death. Corvus tells his troops to show this fact to the Inhumans. Thanos’ troops pull out their knives and slit their throats and collapse to the ground dead. Black Bolt is pissed. Medusa is horrified. Corvus then says he is here for a tribute. The tribute is the sacrifice of all of the Inhumans between the ages of 16 and 22. If the tribute is made then Thanos will spare the rest of the Inhumans. Corvus says that Black Bolt can choose between the death of a few Inhumans or the death of all of the Inhumans. Corvus says that Black Bolt has one day to choose. Corvus then drops the mic and exits the scene.
“A War In The Heavens” We cut to our Avengers in space running like scalded dogs from the Builders’ army of Alephs. Gladiator is pissed and is tired of running. He decides to lead the remaining forces of the Galactic Empires in a strike against the Builders’ army. Ex Nihilio and Mentor watch our heroes fighting the Builders’ army. Ex Nihilio says that the Builders are gods and cannot be defeated. Mentor says that things have changed and that there are now powerful humans like the Avengers who no longer need the old gods like the Builders. That they now have new gods. We see Gladiator standing triumphantly over the decimated army fo the Builders. Mentor is pleased that the heroes have won.
Ex Nihilio cautions against celebrating and points out another Ex Nihilio landing on a nearby planet. We cut to the planet and see an Ex Nihilio named Jerran Ko talking to an Aleph. Jerran Ko says that when he dies he will be gone forever. That in death their makers have created a mockery of everything that the Ex Nihilio have stood for. The Adelph tells Jerran Ko to carry out their master’s orders. Jerran Ko says that he remembers when the symbol on his chest meant life. Jerran Ko says that those were better days. Jerran Ko then explodes into a massive cloud of black smoke.
We cut back to Ex Nihilo and Mentor. Ex Nihilo is horrified and says that something impossible has just happened. He tells Mentor to call all the heroes back to the ship immediately. That something unthinkable has just happened. The heroes return to the ship. A voice narrates that they already knew that the Builders could destroy an entire world. That they thought this was the worst that the Builders could do. But, that in defeat the Builders did something much more sinister. Starting at the death point of the Ex Nihili’s suicide, an ever-extending sphere of decay expanded across the world. It was sickness, spoil and decay at a slow pace. We see some of our heroes like Thor and Hyperion rescuing some of the inhabitants of the planet from the expanding decay. The refugees of the planet watched as the ones left behind became vessels for disease and death. The voice narrates “This was worth than death. This was our first victory.”
“A Convenient Lie” We cut to Attilan where we see Black Bolt entering the machine that takes him to the pocket dimension where he can talk. Black Bolt then activates the gem in his hand. Suddenly, Lockjaw teleports the other members of the Illuminati to Attilan before the Black Bolt. The Illuminati ask why Black Bolt has called them here while the entire world is under attack.
Black Bolt explains that this is a pocket reality where all sound is reduced to one pitch. Therefore, Black Bolt is able to talk. Black Bolt tells them about Thanos’ Tribute that he has demanded from the Inhumans. Black Bolt says that he will be delivering his answer to Thanos in person.
Black Bolt says that he brought everyone here to give them this device. Black Bolt holds up a small metal device and hands it to Reed. Black Bolt says that the device has all the records of the hidden archives of the Inhumans Kings and Queens of the past. In there the Illuminati will find what Thanos is looking for. Black Bolt says that the tribute is a convenient lie by Thanos to cover up the truth. Thanos does not desire the death of every Inhuman between 16-22. Thanos desires the death of one particular person: His son. End of issue.
The Good: Infinity #2 was another fascinating read. Hickman continues to assert himself as Marvel’s answer to Grant Morrison. Now, they are not completely interchangeable. Hickman is able to deliver a more linear story and does not seem as divisive as Morrison is with comic book readers. However, both writers bring such rich, detailed and multi-layered stories to the table that mesmerize the reader and engage their minds in ways that most other superhero comics do not. I admit that I continue to view Infinity as Hickman’s attempt to give Marvel their own Final Crisis styled stories. I see many similarities between Morrison’s Final Crisis and Hickman’s Infinity. At least, I do at this point. I will certainly return to this topic upon the conclusion of Infinity and conduct a comparison between the two big events.
However, returning back to the issue at hand, Hickman continues to unfold an engrossing read with Infinity #2. This is another issue that engages the reader’s mind. The scale of this story is perfect for a proper big event. The scale feels massive and grand befitting of a big event that the reader genuinely knows is truly special rather than a cheap cash grab that employs familiar and rehashed tropes and gimmicks. Some prior Marvel big events under Bendis suffered from feeling small and pedestrian. For lacking that feeling of being anything special. That is most definitely not the case with Infinity. In fact, after two issues, Infinity has demonstrated the potential of being Marvel’s greatest big event since they began doing them with Secret Wars.
What is most enjoyable about Infinity #2 is the wordsmithing that Hickman delivers in crafting such a technically beautiful story. Hickman’s use of language is fantastic. His ability to weave poetry into prose is something that reminds me the most of Morrison’s work. There are passages in Infinity #2 that are simply gorgeous to read. The reader can appreciate the structure of the sentences and use of words like a person can appreciate the brushstrokes, composition and color palette of a painting. The reader can tell that Hickman is operating on a different level. There is so much subtext to the story. Everything has a deeper meaning. The richness of Hickman’s language is an absolute delight. What is also appreciated is the level of intelligence to the story. Hickman wants to challenge the reader’s mind. This is not passive entertainment. This is not a concoction of gimmicky covers, tricks, and violence. This is a story that demands that the reader work and the reward is a start more intelligent than most superhero comics currently on the market.
As always, Hickman’s plotting is stunning. While his pacing is always frustrating, there is no denying his ability to construct multiple complex plotlines that form an intricate spider-web of a story. Hickman gives the reader a densely multi-layered story for the reader to chew on and digest. If the reader does not want to engage their mind and simply wants to ingest a classic Sci-Fi styled action story then there is plenty to be entertained within the action-packed scenes and grand settings that Hickman delivers. However, if the reader wants to begin to peel back the various layers of this story and begin to descend down the rabbit hole trying to examine the imagery, symbolism, and themes that Hickman is playing with then that is available as well. And once the reader does that Infinity takes on a life so much more fascinating than the simple action story that is presented in this issue.
Much like Morrison, Hickman is able to handle the classic Kirby cosmic themes and concepts like few other writers. Now, I have no idea at all if Hickman is a Kirby fan like Morrison has professed to be. But, there is no doubt that Hickman feels right at home walking in Kirby’s shoes and dealing with the same Kirby styled mind-bending concepts. It is fantastic to see a talented writer like Hickman embrace the Kirby concepts and not simply ape them but actually play with them in a modern fashion to create something new and exciting. The Kirby cosmic concepts are the heart and soul of the Marvel Universe and Hickman is doing a fine job making them even more vital to Marvel’s continuity in this age of Marvel NOW.
Infinity #2 provides the reader with gobs of drama. Hickman ratchets up the tension to a fever pitch with the scene in Attilan where Corvus meets with the Inhuman Royal Court. This scene pulls the reader to the edge of their seat. The delicacy and attention to detail that Hickman delivers is what makes this scene such a delight to read. Of course, there is also plenty of action. Action fans will not be disappointed. This big event does include a massive galactic war and Hickman lets us have some fast-paced action to enjoy in this issue. This helps to make Infinity #2 a balanced issue.
Hickman ended Infinity #2 with an excellent hook ending. The stunner that Thanos’ claim for a tribute was nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up the fact that he had a child was one hell of a way to end an issue. I am fascinated by the plot swerve and cannot wait to learn where Hickman goes with this plotline.
Infinity #2 delivers some solid artwork. I’ll admit that I am not particularly a fan of Opena’s artwork at all. So the reader’s mileage may vary concerning the art in this issue.
The Bad: Infinity #2 suffers from all the usual defects of any Hickman penned issue. The pacing is slow. Readers who prefer rapidly-paced issues will surely be annoyed with this issue. Hickman doles out the plot progression under a measured hand and at a calculated pace. Therefore, there is not a considerable amount of plot progression to be found within the pages of Infinity #2.
Overall: Infinity #2 is another intelligent read. Hickman is an impressive wordsmith who is up there with the likes of Grant Morrison. There are few comic book writers writing for Marvel or DC that I would place in that category. Of course, Infinity is not for everyone. Readers who prefer linear reads that are easy to consume and veer more to cotton candy for the brain will probably not be enamored with Hickman’s big event. Also, this is not a big event that can be enjoyed by only reading the core Infinity mini-series. Both Avengers and New Avengers are required reading. However, if you enjoy a big event with an epic scope and a grand scale along with a story that is complex and truly engages the reader’s mind then Infinity is certainly worth giving a try.