In Marvel Comics current big event, Infinity by Jonathan Hickman, the Avengers are in deep space fighting a losing battle along with the Galactic Council against the mysterious and powerful Builders. Meanwhile the Earth is undefended, and at the mercy of the mad Titan called Thanos, and things are about to get worse. Meet me after the jump for reviews of Avengers #19, Mighty Avengers #1, and Infinity The Hunt #1.
This week has only one ‘official’ chapter of Infinity by Jonathan Hickman, and that’s Avengers #19, with art by Leinil Yu. There are actually a couple first issue jokes pretending to be Infinity tie-ins out this week as well, proving that DC Comics and their 3-D lenticular covers are not alone in gouging money out of fanboys and girls, but I’ll get to those two later.
Defeat and Capture
Avengers #19 takes place in the aftermath of the Battle of the Corridor, where the Galactic Council forces got ambushed and decimated by The Builders. The Avengers also took a toll as well, eight of their number taken prisoner. One might suspect that Marvel’s checklist may be a little off as it appears this issue spoils the events of Captain Marvel #16. That may be wholly accurate however, as many of these events occur parallel to each other as opposed in a linear manner.
Captain Marvel has been damaged, both physically and mentally, during this battle and previous, and reverted to her Binary persona. Even those considerable powers were useless against The Builders. She, along with Hawkeye and some of the newbies in Hickman’s army of Avengers, are captured. It does not appear that The Builders are playing by Geneva Convention rules either.
This is really our first look at The Builders. Other than former villain Ex Nihilo, who now counts himself among the newbie Avengers, we haven’t seen them in actual action. We are quickly reassured that there is no misunderstanding here, The Builders are not only the bad guys, they are bad news.
They consider themselves gods, not in the divine sense, but in the creator sense. They made this universe, or so they claim, and as Captain America points out to the Galactic Council, they have already proven themselves superior, in battle at least. But what is their goal, their endgame?
I’m old school. Usually I am highly suspect of villains turning to heroes. I know, the Avengers are filled to the brim with baddies who have turned good – Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man, Swordsman, hell, even the Hulk (where was he?). And please, no one mention Ares – I still don’t trust him.
That said, I would put Ex Nihilo in the same category as Ares. As a villain in the early issues of Hickman’s Avengers he was dangerous, unpredictable, diabolical, and yes, nihilistic. This is not an easy makeover for me to buy. In this issue and a couple times previous, he has expressed regret and care. He even built a world for the refugees of the Battle of the Corridor, and even doubted his makers. I am not convinced, yet.
The Galactic Council is a loose confederation at best. The Kree and the Skrulls have hated each other for millennia, and the Shi’Ar have no love for either. Then there’s the Spartax. They’re Star-Lord’s people, right? Yes, they must be those jerks based on their actions in this issue. Oh boy. And Annihililus and The Brood are long time baddies in the Marvel Universe. Throw in the Avengers of Earth, and you’ve got quite a house party of hate.
In Avengers #19, the Council has realized what they face, or at least the numbers they face. They cannot win against The Builders in traditional combat at least. The Avengers are also outed as to why they are there – the enemy fleet is going to go right through Earth (if it’s not actually their target). As I mentioned above briefly, Captain America actually has some good dialogue here confronting the Council. Add in Captain Marvel’s screen time, and that’s our Avengers this issue. I hope they survive…
Mighty Avengers #1 came out this week as well, talk about diluting a brand. Written by Al Ewing and illustrated by Greg Land, doing his usual photo referential art gig, Mighty Avengers is not the big guns concept launched by Brian Michael Bendis and Frank Cho years ago, but more of a street level team, fighting C-level costumed baddies. Its supposed concept is these are the Avengers who defend the Earth from Thanos’ forces while the main team is in deep space.
I have talked before about the fallacy of that idea. All of the Avengers are unavailable so this team is hobbled together protect the earth. The logic might not be that faulty however. Apparently, neither Uncanny Avengers nor Avengers A.I. are part of this crossover event, so yeah, the pickings are slim. And apparently the Fantastic Four and X-Men are also busy. At least Proxima Midnight makes a brief appearance here to hold up the Infinity tie-in banner on the front.
There were bits I did like here. I loved the creation of a Marvel Universe equivalent for Paul Gambi, but then again, didn’t Dan Slott also create one recently over in his Spider-Man stories? Speak of the devil, I loved Ewing’s characterization of Otto-Spidey, much more on target than Bendis’ version during Age of Ultron. Monica Rambeau was also on target character-wise, but I really wish she didn’t pick another codename. I admit being intrigued by the mystery Avenger, it’s almost like a Silver Age Legion stunt.
Kindt’s Contest of Champions
I’m a long time fan of Matt Kindt, and when I say long time, I mean it. I was digging on Mephisto and the Empty Box over a decade ago. Matt has done some very cool stuff in comics since then, among them the more recent Mind MGMT and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. His Infinity The Hunt isn’t bad either.
Probably the only thing I don’t like about is that it has very little to do with Infinity except for the ending. Other than that it strikes me almost as a cross between the old 1980s Marvel miniseries Contest of Champions (it even uses its logo in the story) and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, with all the different superhero schools. The Hunt is quite good, I dug it, and thought the Steven Sanders art was pretty cool, blending David Aja with Mike Allred with retro simplicity.
I’m sure I’d like to see more of this, but I’m not sure what I liked more, the contest or the impending involvement with Infinity. I do know I wished Giant-Man was in the book, and not just on the cover. Yeah, I know Hank Pym was starring inside, but really, Hank is cool, but he ain’t as cool as his alter-ego Giant-Man. And if you want to know what my friend and fellow BiffBamPopper J.P. Fallavollita had to say about Infinity The Hunt, check it out here.
There were some good moments in all three comics out this week, but as far as two of these books actually tying in with the main Infinity saga, it’s spreading the definition of event tie-in book a bit thin. I’m down with Avengers and looking forward to more of Infinity The Hunt, Mighty, maybe not so much.