Previously in Infinity: In space, the Infinity war is over. The tattered Galactic Council, led by the upstart Avengers of Earth have defeated the fearsome Builders. They used strategy, inspiration, brute force, and blind luck to make it happen and the subjugated worlds have noticed. One by one the growing fleet won back the worlds, who then named themselves Avengers Worlds. The question still remains, was saving Earth the right thing to do? There is a growing belief that the survival of Earth will cause the end of all life in our universe. This nagging doubt will not deter the Avengers; Earth is in danger and it is the first Avengers World. Meanwhile, on Earth Ebony Maw has captured Thane, the Terrigen altered son of Thanos. With his primary goal of killing the last of his progeny almost accomplished, the Mad Titan and his Cull Obsidian (Black Order) set their sights on their secondary objective… the destruction of Earth. The New Avengers (Illuminati) are in a catch-22. They recently learned of the belief that Earth’s survival will cause the end of all life, but it’s their world and it is under attack. If that isn’t bad enough Thanos has gained control of Black Panther’s Necropolis and now possesses the bombs they use to stop incursions. Just the weapon Thanos needs to destroy Earth. Can even the combined forces of all of the Avengers make any difference at this point, and based on other information, should they? Infinity rages on!
Thunderbolts #18 by Charles Soule and Jefte Palo brings us back from our Infinity Intermission. As we remember Ross (Red Hulk) has offered to complete missions for the members who participated in his selected missions and Punisher won the first pick. His choice was to find and kill the Paguro Family of gangsters. It seems that they are the behind the scenes facilitators for all the other families. Their efforts are rewarded with money, protection, and discretion from their “clients”. The Thunderbolts (except for Deadpool, who went for pizza) have infiltrated their stronghold, which due to the invasion is full of criminals seeking haven. The Nobili family of disgraced cowards are also there and have been altered by the Terrigen Mists. They are also destroying the other families. In the melee the Paguros made their escape. They are heading to one of their many safe houses in the city, you guessed it, a pizza place. BLAM! Problem solved, by a seemingly prophetic Deadpool. I was reading this series prior to Infinity and I will continue to do so now that their involvement is over. I love the writing of Charles Soule. He seems to understand the dichotomy of the characters and their personalities. It is quite obvious that each has his or her own agenda and Soule expertly handles the characters and their interactions, and these are no ordinary characters! Regardless of the end of Infinity, you should be reading Thunderbolts.
Secret Avengers #11 by Ed Brisson and Luke Ross continues the story of Agent Sarah Garza…Inhuman Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., who in her first day of Inhumanity is asked to step out from behind her computer and fight alongside Nick Fury and The Iron Patriot against an alien invasion. That part went well, she saved the day, until the emergence of another Inhuman. Gavriel Achter didn’t have the mental faculties to handle his transformation and new-found telekinetic powers. He saw himself as a protector even though his tantrum was killing people. Fortunately for our heroes his brain couldn’t handle the strain and he kept blacking out giving them the time they needed to stop him. Fury made the call to put him down, which Sarah agreed had to be done, but it also made her realize that this life, these decisions, were not for her. She just wanted to go back to her life as a tech op. Luke Ross provides very detailed art as always. It’s dark, gritty, by highly stylized and is perfect for this mix of tech and otherwise invisible powers like telekinesis. The artwork is as fast-moving as the story, and works very well with the pace of Brisson’s writing. We may see Sarah Garza again someday, but it will likely take a great trauma to get her to accept the hero life.
Avengers #23 by Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu finally gets us back to the main story line on Earth. This long-awaited issue starts with a conversation between Captain America and Iron Man. Hickman writes it like they are long-lost brothers. He really understands the relationship between the two men despite past disagreements they care only for Earth and the Avengers, all other past issues are inconsequential. Cap says his team will break the orbiting blockade at The Peak, while Iron Man’s group will deal with recovering the weapons at the Necropolis in Wakanda. At The Peak the Avengers and their allies await word from a group that had been sent to infiltrate the commandeered space station. The word comes and the fleet engages. Despite the lack of casualties among the main characters to date, it becomes apparent that the battle for Earth will not end without some deaths. Superguardian, of the Imperial Guard, falls in the assault. Manifold jumps into the Peak with Black Widow and Shang Chi to scuttle the stations defenses. Captains America and Marvel prepare to join the fray. As the Star Spangled Avengers leaves there is a small panel in which Cap looks back over his shoulder and says to Ronan (Kree), Kl’rt (Skrull), and Gladiator (Shi’Ar), “You didn’t have to…what I mean is… I want to thank all of you for this.” A small panel in the grand scheme of this epic war, but still chilling considering the histories between these races. In the mean time Black Dwarf has found the infiltrating Avengers and things look bleak for the trio. Manifold teleports back for help but the Captains have already left. In a true “wahoo moment” he returns to the battle on the Peak with the only available fighters left, Ronan, Kl’rt, Annihilus, and Gladiator…awesome! Even more awesome is the battle between these Imperials and Thanos’ incredulous General, which ended in the only way it could have. Ronan, The Kree Accuser declares, “and You… have been judged!” delivering the killing blow to Black Dwarf. With the Peak recovered, The Imperial Allies vow to chase down the pirate fleet freeing up the Avengers to confront Thanos and take back their planet.
Avengers #23 is another example of the brilliant story that has unfolded over the last two months. I have had very few criticisms about this cross-over. The writing has been emotionally charged, and brilliantly juggled throughout the books involved. The art, especially from Yu, Weaver, Deodato, and Opena has been truly excellent. But right now I have a criticism, and it is one that could easily have been avoided. I’m referring The schedule of the books. This event was epic in scope and perfectly paced. Every week you could count on at least one episode from the main story line weaving its way through The Avengers, New Avengers, and Infinity books and a tie-in or two. Until the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago we got only Mighty Avengers, and last week we got…NOTHING! Talk about screeching to a halt! There were weeks early on where we had two of the main titles in a week. The schedule should have been smoothed out to make sure that the reader was kept engrossed and on the edge of their seats waiting for the next installment. These are not your father’s comic book collectors, they don’t systematically seek out ever missing issue. This is the time of the short attention span, and the immediate gratification generation. You have to know this and cater to their needs. That being said, welcome back Infinity! These three books brought it right back for me, and hopefully many other readers. Now keep the pace rolling for a couple more weeks and finish strong. A story is only as great as the ending!