Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity event at Marvel Comics continues this week in two crossover tie-in stories. In Captain Marvel #15, the Avengers in deep space try to recover from the disastrous Battle of the Corridor, while in New Avengers #9, the heroes left on Earth brace themselves for the assault of Thanos. Read my thoughts, after the jump.
The Battle of the Corridor
The mysterious alien race called The Builders is laying waste to planets across the galaxy, so a coalition of space empires – the Kree, the Shi’Ar, the Spartax, the Brood, what’s left of the Skrulls, plus eighteen Avengers from Earth, both veterans and newbies – determine to stop them. Their plan involved ambushing the enemy near a black hole.
It is a simple plan really, dating back to Roman times and earlier, from the old West to the deserts of North Africa. Basically one traps an enemy between a rock and a hard place. The tragic defeat known as the Battle of the Corridor turned on the galactic coalition forces when several Builder ships uncloaked, sealing the Galactic Council in its own trap, and crushing their ambush.
In Avengers #18, the Battle of the Corridor is given only brief pages. Here in Captain Marvel #15, writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Jen Van Meter take over the narrative and gives it a personal spin in Carol Danvers’ point of view, and hers is a unique perspective. DeConnick and Van Meter provide details the casual reader might not be aware of reading Infinity and Avengers.
Post Traumatic Super-Stress
Carol is suffering serious psychic damage from a battle with her namesake’s archenemy Yon-Rogg, possibly most of her memories and emotions are gone, and that’s not even taking into account post-traumatic stress. She saves New York from this maniac before going off into deep space with the Avengers. She perseveres. The one thing Carol Danvers has always been, in all of her identities, is tough.
“Kiss Today Goodbye,” the first of a two-part story telling the tale of Carol and the Battle of the Corridor features art by Patrick Olliffe, who gives the action a more superheroic vibe rather than the space opera we have experienced thus far in Infinity. I like it. When I buy a superhero comic, I want superheroes.
As I mentioned, Captain Marvel was injured in her battle with Yon-Rogg. The DeConnick and Van Meter narrative not only gives us the character moments missing from previous Infinity installments, we see Carol’s point of view that she, and the heroes, are just going through the motions. She’s faking it and it feels forced, she says. They are all doing what is expected, yes, but are their hearts in it? Perhaps the writers are commenting on participating in yet another crossover event?
That said, I liked Captain Marvel #15. Kelly Sue DeConnick continues to produce one of the better books on the shelves, and this issue delivers more Avengers action than we have seen thus far, so I’m happy. And I’ll be back next issue as this one ends on an intriguing cliffhanger. Go, Kelly Sue!
While the battle rages and the good guys fall in deep space, Thanos plots to take advantage of a supposedly defenseless Earth, a world without Avengers. New Avengers #9 gives us an insight into what Thanos’ plans are as his forces invade.
I know this might be blasphemy but I have never really gotten Thanos. No disrespect meant to the genius of Jim Starlin, but I have always felt that the mad god of Titan was a low rent Darkseid whose story cycle has been played out. And no, I haven’t missed the irony that Darkseid has similarly come to his story’s end multiple times as well.
My partner Ray on The GAR! Podcast tried to explain the lure of the character to me recently, citing experiencing the character at a certain age and the emo movement for Thanos’ popularity. I guess I never really considered Thanos an Avengers villain to begin with, and as far as I’m concerned – if Adam Warlock and the original Captain Marvel are dead, he’s already dated Death, killed half the universe, and the Infinity Gauntlet has been dismantled – does the character really have a point to exist any longer?
The Black Order
Maybe Hickman’s Infinity will change my mind. I admittedly do like DC Comics’ counterpart to Thanos, Darkseid, better. And one thing that Hickman seems to be doing here is making Thanos more Darkseid-like. Here and in Infinity #1, we are introduced to The Black Order, underlings, henchmen if you will, doing the bidding of Thanos. It’s a concept similar to Darkseid’s Elite, except sans the unerring loyalty.
I like the Black Order. At least they have names and personalities, as opposed to The Builders. But as the title of this event implies, this isn’t really about the mysterious invading race, it’s about Thanos. Hickman puts more into their characterization than he has the Avengers so far in Infinity. If only he would channel this energy into the classic Avengers team, I’d be very satisfied.
Objectives and Objections
The X-Men make a four-page appearance as two of the Black Order seek the Illuminati member who holds the last existing Infinity Gem, targeting the Beast assuredly in this case. That’s what Thanos is after, the last gem, so his underlings are going after the Illuminati. Doctor Strange’s predicament seems rather dire, and I loved Iron Man and Reed Richards defending New York – but shouldn’t they have been on the deep space team?
I didn’t really care for how Namor is handled here, but I get it, and I love that he maneuvers Proxima Midnight to attack Wakanda. Speaking of Wakanda, my biggest disappointment was that we did not get to see the fight between the Black Panther and Black Dwarf. Shades of Brian Michael Bendis! Hickman gives us the set up but the best part happens off panel! I am not happy, especially considering that Jonathan Hickman writes the best Panther since Reggie Hudlin.
Not the Avengers
And while I have complained previously of Hickman not having Avengers in his Avengers stories, New Avengers isn’t strictly an Avengers title. Infinity and crossover events aside, the stars of this book are the loose grouping called the Illuminati. While technically most are members, and the stories are intersecting, they ain’t the Avengers. Their agenda is slightly more sinister. And as long as we’re talking sinister, what is Black Bolt up to… with Maximus the Mad? That can’t be good. Maximus the Mad – man, I get Jack Kirby chills just typing that…
Quite honestly, that distrust and forced cooperation has been what I have enjoyed most about Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers. The characters are bound by responsibility, but don’t necessarily like nor trust each other. Inside and outside of major comics events, I recommend this book.
And I have to take a moment to praise the art of Mike Deodato. I was not a fan early on in his career but now he blows me away on a regular basis. His work on New Avengers, and especially this issue, is phenomenal. Equal props as well to color artist Frank Martin. Beautiful visuals.
There you go, two readable and fairly enjoyable chapters in this season’s big event. The heroes are going through the motions, it’s true, but despite any complaints, I am engaged, and have hope for what comes next. Infinity continues next week, and who knows what that will bring…