Infinity: Avengers Above

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We have been waiting for this for a long time, since the beginning of Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity actually, this is it – the Avengers vs. the forces of Thanos to take back the Earth! First, however, they must break through the blockade that surrounds their home, and The Peak, the armed space station the enemy has made their own. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Avengers #23!

The Lion

While the scene felt a bit odd, and makes little sense, other than Wakanda is in Africa, I really dug the splash in page five of Iron Man petting the lion. I’m sure there’s a Wizard of Oz joke in there somewhere, but it’s just an awesome image by artist Leinil Yu and I love it. It’s a really good lion.

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The image accompanies Iron Man and Captain America touching base on current events and how to best deal with Thanos. I like these two characters getting as opposed to how some folks treat them. Hickman gets their relationship right.

The Falcon

Captain America’s blue eyes have to be mentioned as long as we’re talking about the art. Even with his helmet, and space armor over his costume, his blue eyes shining through, verifies his humanity. And his humanity in a sweeping space epic with warring alien races is most important.

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Speaking of space armor, am I the only one who does a double take every time the Falcon appears on panel? His outfit is so outrageous and bizarre, I have to think who is that every time I see this weird hybrid of Stingray, Sauron, and Hawkman. Were we ever properly introduced to this new… visual, or did it just appear?

Casting Call

We are given a ‘Cast’ page in every part of Infinity, but these are just head shots, and in none of these head shots does the Falcon sport his red and white Sauron head. Perhaps the ‘Cast’ page should be given back to the story, and name captions could be used to identify the players within the story? It would definite make identifying the Falcon, as well as the various Imperial Guard members, much easier.

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Maybe this is why those ‘guide to the Marvel Universe’ books are so popular – people want to know who these characters are. Back in the Silver and Bronze Ages of comics, time and space was always taken to show who was who. Why can’t that be done, clearly, today?

Neutered Supermen?

While it’s true we’ve seen a little bit of Thor in action during Infinity, I have to wonder why we’re not seeing more of him. He could take most of this fleet on with himself. And then there’s Hyperion, the Marvel version of some guy DC Comics calls Superman. Why isn’t he tearing up the enemy as well. I would think that the bulk of the battle would be on their hands. Honestly, how well would any space fleet hold up against Thor and Hyperion, not to mention the Avengers and the Imperial Guard?

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Speaking of the Imperial Guard, they were designed to be the Marvel version of DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes. There is a lot of potential power there in just that group, and at their head, is Gladiator, another doppelganger for Superman/Superboy. Gladiator alone could take down the majority of Thanos’ fleet. I’m thinking this is a waste of power, but in Avengers #23, writer Jonathan Hickman has an answer, as we’ll see shortly.

The Right Stuff

Seemingly ignoring the Guardians of the Galaxy’s efforts to sabotage The Peak in issue #8 of their series, or possibly just sloppily retelling it, a small team of Avengers must sneak onto the space station down. Consisting of the Black Widow, Manifold, and Shang-Chi – it is an unlikely team. Why not send in a powerhouse as well, just in case the worst happens? Of course, the worst does happen, and they’re caught by the enemy, led by the monstrous Black Dwarf of Thanos’ Black Order.

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This is not the right team for this mission, good for stealth and sabotage, but not for hand to hand combat with one of the Mad Titan’s elite. Oh, it is a dramatic scene, don’t get me wrong, and seeing Shang-Chi (although I wish a name caption told me it was him) go mano a mano with Black Dwarf was awesome… but come on, wouldn’t it have been smarter to send at least one person with an offensive power set on this mission?

Armchair Generals

As ultimately Bruce Lee cool as Shang Chi and his hands of Kung Fu are, he’s no match for Black Dwarf and this fight was going to eventually end badly. Luckily Manifold goes for help. The ones left at the good guys command ship are the leaders of the attack. The armchair generals – Ronan, Annihilus, Super-Skrull, and Gladiator – any of them a very dangerous and formidable opponent, finally enter the fray and demolish Black Dwarf when manifold brings them in.

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The scene makes me wonder. We’ve seen Gladiator enter the fray a bit in Infinity, but I think these guys should have been more active, ya know? Captain America is out there on the battlefield, right? Ronan and Super-Skrull are bred soldiers, and Annihilus has never been one to stand back and let his minions do his dirty work. Why now? Let us not forget who we are dealing with here. With The Builders gone, and Thanos soon to be gone… perhaps they, together or individually, want Earth for themselves?

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Next, the final issue of Infinity, and the final battle with Thanos!

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