This post is for several reasons. It’s been too long since I’ve talked about my writing here, so here’s a quick update. Secondly, I finally read Infinity last night. Since it’s a bit late for a review, I’ll just share my thoughts. Let’s talk about my writing first, because there isn’t a whole lot to say. With Infinity on the other hand, well …
As I’ve said before, I usually write for a month and then take a month or so off as a break. February wasn’t much of a month off though, as my room was being renovated for the bulk of it. Days after I moved back in, there was a death in the family and a funeral half way across the country. It was only days ago when I returned … with a cold. I don’t quite feel ready to start writing again, and considering next month is the first camp nano month, I might just wait until then.
On the bright side, I’m gearing up for the final major edit of the first book I’m trying to get published. As a warm up, I can edit some more of the short stories I wrote in January and send a few out. There’s also a local workshop coming up that I hope to participate in. That’s it for the writing update. I’ll probably start reading this month’s novel tomorrow.
Infinity was this year’s major Avengers event, well … one of two. Written by Hickman, it had Earth’s heroes teaming up with the Shi’ar, Skrulls and the Kree against an ancient race known as the builders. I picked up all six issues while out of province for a total of $15. Better yet, they accidentally included two copies of issue 1 (first printing). On the downside, it sucks. Before I get started, keep in mind I didn’t read any of the build-up issues, and the only tie-ins I touched were written by Kelly Sue DeConnick.
I’m not sure how many friends I’ll make by saying this, but having read every Avengers event since House of M, Infinity may actually be the worst. And that’s coming from someone who loved Hickman’s Fantastic Four run. More than any of these other events, it failed to remain self-contained, it refused to focus on any of the characters, and it just felt like a sequence of things happening.
The only character that gets any real focus is Thane, a newly revealed son of Thanos whose death powers are revealed by the inhuman gasses. Before that, he tried to be a healer to avoid his destiny. He initially doesn’t like his death powers, but his character development is a bit … ambiguous. That’s all we really know about him as a character. You can’t do that with an event’s central character. You need to be clearer and delve deeper.
The event also praises the avengers way too much. After they help save a world, it’s declared an Avengers World. Are you serious? It’s silly how Captain America leads multiple galactic empires in war against the builders. Sure, he may be one of Earth’s best leaders, but you’re telling me he’s the best military tactician in the universe? That’s quite the stretch. We don’t even see any of his battle tactics – we just see single panels of him leading forces against the enemy, with a cold emotionless narration about how they’re retaking the universe. At least in War of Kings, Havok wasn’t the overall leader, he just lead a relatively small strike team and used ambushes and hit and run tactics. We know that, and he wasn’t even a central character in the event.
The worst part though, is that Infinity has no build-up. We never see what the builders are capable of. We’re only told that they’re powerful, yet the only time we see one in a fight, he’s killed with a single blow from Thor’s hammer. Considering there’s only a handful of the main builders, that doesn’t make them feel like a threat. Maybe we saw more of them in the tie-ins, but that would just mean the event isn’t the least bit self-contained. There’s a whole side story of the Kree surrendering to the builders, bit in the very next issue, a builder is killed and the Kree rejoin the fight.
For comparison, let’s look at every other Avengers event since House of M. HOM, while kind of an X-Men event, focused mostly on the Avengers. The bulk of the character focus was on Wolverine, the underground Avengers, and Magneto’s descendants. Scarlet Witch had a lot of characterization, as did the alternate universe Magneto and his love for her. The event had problems sure, namely its slow pace and near lack of action scenes, but it felt self-contained.
Civil War is probably the most polarizing Avengers event in history. It has a lot of problems. It failed to define the terms of registration and felt very one sided. It also made Iron Man look a villain, but the Captain America side worked. It wasn’t quite self-contained as several scenes led directly into Spider-Man’s tie-ins … which led to One More Day. Still, it kept focus on Captain America and Iron man, the leaders of either side. Spider-Man also has some decent character moments in the event itself.
World War Hulk was simple and fun. It skipped trying to be political or deep and just had fun showing the Hulk raging on the Illuminati group. It also kept a good focus on the Hulk and those who wronged him. It’s not amazing, but I can’t think of any serious complaints.
Secret Invasion is the weakest event so far, with its incredibly slow pace and disappointing climax. That said, it still had a decent focus on Iron Man as he struggles with whether he’s a Skrull or not, and the lead up to the event was kind of genius. As a trade paperback, it’s decent enough to at least read.
Siege was ok. It was fairly short, had some good action, and kept a strong focus on Thor and the Dark Avengers. Not much else to say.
Fear Itself … boy was this event a mess and I kind of hate it. Including all the tie-ins and cleanup comics, this event has more than 200 issues and it shows in the main series. Whole battles are skimmed over in single panels. It was hard to keep track of all the deaths and returning characters. Nearly every character in the Marvel Universe was somehow involved. That said, issue 6 is really good. It takes its time to focus on Thor as he considers his destiny with the Serpent, while Captain America has some decent character work as well. Also, the moment Captain America picks up Thor’s hammer is plain epic. The Uncanny X-Men tie-ins where they fought the Juggernaut were brilliant also.
I said enough about Avengers vs. X-Men when it finished. Long story short, it has lots of continuity problems, mischaracterization and took too long to reach act 2. They also killed off Xavier with barely any panel time in the main event. On the bright side, when it took its time to focus on Cyclops or Hope, it was very good. Also, the climax felt as though it meant something. While it may be my X-Men bias talking, it’s the best of all these Avengers events yet arguably the worst of the X-Men events in the same timeframe. It’s either that or SCHISM, and that depends on how you feel about the Hellfire kids. I know of at least one fellow blogger who despises them.
I won’t bother discussing Age of Ultron, because it’s more of an alternate universe story than an event. Personally, I enjoyed it but I know there are those who hated it.
Infinity has the same problems as Fear Itself, but with none of the upsides. Other than the final confrontation with Thanos on Earth, there isn’t a single fight scene we see play out in the main event. There aren’t any character moments for the avengers as we barely even see them half the time. It’s hard to care about a story that’s glossed over so much. It’s hard to care about a character who’s obviously a plot device and has such a compressed introduction. With every single other Avengers event, I at least had some sort of emotional reaction with its conclusion. With Infinity, my first thought was to continue unpacking and sorting my DVDs.
Yeah, Infinity was just a bad story. Fear Itself really is the best comparison, because they both kinda suffer the same problem. They both have a bit of a “so what?” factor to them. A story needs to justify its own existence. FI and Infinity never really did that. They were both just Big Dumb Action. And honestly, even the average action movie has some theme or excuse for being made. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what the theme was of Infinity. “No matter how hard you try, you are ultimately powerless to resist the dangers of the world, and you must hope for others more powerful than you to take mercy and save you”? Because that’s seriously how it comes across. Every single threat is resolved by some godlike being waving their hand. The Builder threat is resolved with Captain Universe waking up and instantly destroying them. Thanos’ fleet is mostly destroyed by Starbrand. Supergiant and the planet-killer bomb are defeated by Lockjaw teleporting them away (Canis Ex Machina, as one person described it). And Thanos himself was defeated by Thane. The Avengers – the actual heroes of the story, the guys we’re supposed to be rooting for – are never able to actually accomplish anything more than tread water.
What it comes down to is that this story didn’t matter. At all. Absolutely nothing about it actually matters. The Builders are defeated, but the New Avengers prologue issue flat-out says the Builders are a minor threat and never really mattered. So if this big event doesn’t actually matter, why the hell were we supposed to read it?
Oh, and for the record, Avengers and New Avengers are both generally considered “necessary reading” for Infinity. The story is told through the three books. Not that the other two books make any of it actually matter any more.
That only makes it worse. If the main Infinity story can’t be told in the mini-series called “Infinity”, then why bother having the “Infinity” mini-series to begin with? And nothing in the mini-series makes me want to touch its “necessary” tie-ins.
Because Marvel wanted a Summer Event. From what I understand, Hickman didn’t even particularly want to do it as an event, but editorial pretty much ordered him to do it. Of course, once the choice was taken away, he should’ve done a better job to make it a good story.
Instead, one of the main defences I’ve seen of it, in regards to the “it didn’t matter” criticism, is that we have to consider it in terms of its place in Hickman’s overall run once he finishes. Which doesn’t particularly impress me as a defence.
If that’s the case, than he’s not the only one who’s been forced by Marvel to participate in an event. Peter David was pretty much forced to be a part of X-Cutioner’s Song. The ironic thing is that his issues were the best in that otherwise mediocre crossover.
It also makes me wonder if Age of Ultron somehow wasn’t enough, because that happened in the early part of summer and had a few tie-ins.
But yeah, being forced to do an event may explain part of why it was so pointless, but it still doesn’t excuse being the worst Avengers event in the last decade.
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