Today, Ethan and Spencer are discussing Infinity 6, originally released November 27th, 2013. This issue is part of the Infinity crossover event. Click here for complete Infinity coverage.
Ethan: When I was starting college, I knew – objectively – that I would at some point no longer be a student; I’d graduate, get a job, do the adulthood thing. But at the time, steeped in the day-to-day evasion of and frantic return to schoolwork, hanging out with friends, sleeping as little as possible, the thought if college actually ending rarely crossed my mind. And then BAM it was time to get up to go to the early-morning rehearsal for the graduation ceremony. College was finished, I was moving into a new apartmen and starting a new job. That sense of disconnect – when something long awaited feels as though it happens and is shoved into the past before we have the chance to actually experience – is the same feeling I’ve gotten during most of the turning points in the Infinity event, and the same is true of its finale.
The SWORD station and its surrounding barricade enemy ships bypassed, Captain America’s strike team crash lands near their destination: Thanos and his son. As they head towards the target, Iron Man and the Illuminati face-off against Supergiant and the her mind-controlled puppet, Black Bolt. Bolt’s mad brother Maximus shows up with Lockjaw just in time to teleport Supergiant and the fully armed planet-killer bomb to a different, not-Earth-so-who-really-cares planet where the bomb does its thing and destroys the alien planet and Supergiant both. Back on Earth, Cap’s team of heavy hitters meet their match against Thanos, Corvus Glaive, and Proxima Midnight. Just as Thanos and his posse are kicking the last bits of tar out of the heroes, Ebony Maw plays his hand by releasing Thanos’s son, Thane. Thane accepts his bloody destiny by unleashing his powers on his father, sealing him in an amber block of living death.
If your reaction to all this is “Welp! I guess that’s that!” then we are on the same page. I know I’m biased by this point since we’ve spent so much time talking about our attempts and failures to really connect with this storyline, but I honestly think this issure really is just more of the same. Here’s the pinnacle, here’s the showdown, here’s the big finish: the big bomb neatly vanishes to Anywhere Else before it blows up, and Thanos’s son kills his dad, just like Hickman told us he would back when we first met Thane.
Here’s the thing: both of those actions are completely reasonable in the context of the story. Manifold’s been ‘porting things and people around the whole time, and if you can’t stop a huge explosion, the next best idea is to make it happen somewhere else. Totally makes sense. And a Super-Big Bad like Thanos is going leave a Super-Big power vacuum, so it’s a nice little quirk that his pacifist son ends up being the one to fill his shoes, all because he wanted to do the right thing by saving the heroes and putting Thanos out of commission. A flavor of Greek tragedy, that: to save lives in a crucial moment, you have to accept that lives will be lost in the future, you can’t escape your destiny, etc etc. The same is true of the way the Builders were defeated: Hickman had built them up as such a terrifyingly unstoppable force, it was going to take one hell of a Deus poking its head out of the Machina to save the day, and how apropos that their destroyer would also be the focus of their worship, Captain Universe.
Disclaimer: I’ve enjoyed plenty of conversations, fight scenes, and beautiful art along the way. In the small moments, the down-time, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s when we’ve confronted the biggest, most consequential, most threatening points in time that this series seemed to want to tie everything up in a bow within 2-3 pages. As if to say, “Wanna see a trick? I can pull off my thumb! Annnd there it’s back on again! Magic!” Each one has included some nicely packaged pseudo-coincidence that makes it kind of neat, but it’s not what I would call dramatic, or moving. Given that there’s some terrific storytelling to be found in superhero comics, I don’t think it would have been too much to ask for a more time spent on the resolution of each of these victories, and perhaps less time putting all of the pieces in place for predictable, flashy irony.
But hey! At least we got more rocket cameos.
Spencer, I suspect I’m preaching to the choir here when it comes to being bemused at the turns this arc has taken (and how over-use of the teleportation concept is evidence of the moral decay of our society), but what did you think of the epilogue? What do you think the Illuminati is planning to do with their life-size Thanos action figure? Would you be willing to take a vacation on Praxis-2 “Annihilation World” if it meant that you got to be on a reality show about it?
Spencer: Reality shows don’t really appeal to me anyway, and one set on Annihilation World would likely be one of those varieties that kills off the losing contestants, so I think I’ll be taking a pass on that vacation. That new Ex Nihili planet with the giant tree looks like a pleasant place to spend a week, though, even if it is a tad Avatar-ish.
Anyway, Ethan, I’ll get to the epilogue in a bit. First, I just want to say that I agree with most of what you had to say about this issue, but despite all that, I just really, really enjoyed this one. Part of why I’m so pleased with it is because of how tightly it focuses on the Avengers/Illuminati; the other intergalactic forces get their moment to shine and their stories resolved in the epilogue, but our heroes from Earth are the focus of most of the action, and some of the more minor Avengers are allowed to carry the battle exposition in a way that only the two Captains have prior to this point:
There are plenty of other little moments that make this issue feel genuine, such as Black Widow playing mission commander on the Peak, the painfully-passive Doctor Strange finally taking a stand, and Namor shielding Beast from Black Bolt’s voice; there hasn’t been a lot of space for small character beats like this throughout Infinity, and they do wonders to make this giant story feel even just the tiniest bit more grounded.
The action itself is probably the biggest draw of this issue. Infinity has featured a lot of massive space battles, but — besides a few stand-out scenes — very little in the way of hand-to-hand. This issue fixes that by devoting the bulk of its space to the final brawl between the Cull Obsidian and the Avengers, and its one for the record books. The expanded page count allows room to watch the battle unfold in detail, and I literally cannot remember the last time I saw a fight this bombastic in an American comic. Pencillers Jim Cheung and Dustin Weaver — plus the rest of their art team — deserve much credit for bringing these fights to life, whether its creating the spectacle of Hyperion blowing Corvus Glaive to bits with his heat vision or simply allowing us to feel the weight behind Thor’s hits.
Still, perhaps the biggest boon for these fight scenes is the fact that the Cull Obsidian are such well-developed antagonists. Thanks to the Cull’s distinct personalities and power-sets, the match-ups never feel boring; instead, the inventive abilities make things more engaging.
Sure, Thanos smacking Hulk across the page is shocking and exciting, but Proxima Midnight’s gravity spear and Corvus’ atom-splitting Glaive are threats we’ve never seen Hulk face before, which I find much more interesting than just watching Hulk duke it out with somebody physically stronger than him.
Likewise, the personalities of the Cull provide insight into the kind of people Thanos associates with, be it sadists like Glaive or Midnight or simply someone like Supergiant, someone who was discarded and broken and in need of help, but instead received only Thanos. Then there’s Ebony Maw, who is easily the most interesting of these villains to me.
Maw is the weakest of the Cull Obsidian, yet he’s the only one who escapes this fight unscathed, and it’s only because he’s manipulative and cunning. He sees in Thane somebody not only more powerful than his current boss, but also someone much easier to control; Thane is the perfect weapon for Maw, so why wouldn’t he betray Thanos? In an issue filled with epic brawls among some of the most powerful sluggers in the Marvel universe, it’s intriguing that the character who comes out ahead of everyone does so through nothing but his own cunning.
Of course, with all this space spent on fight scenes and resolving the threat of Thanos, there’s really no room to further explore the upcoming end of the universe that put much of Infinity — especially the Builders story — into motion. I can see why that would be a major failing, but since that plot began in New Avengers, perhaps it’s better left explored there. What I like about how Infinity ended — here’s that epilogue you mentioned, Ethan — is how it left the rest of the Marvel universe. While the immediate threats of Infinity — Thanos and the Builders — have been eliminated, the universe has still been changed in ways that will affect stories for a long time to come, but these changes aren’t the kind that will disrupt what other writers are doing in their books. We aren’t skipping ahead a year, nobody died, and most of the major upheaval is in space; what a refreshing way to end a major crossover!
I’m not saying Infinity was perfect; I’ve done more than my fair share of griping about the event. I do think there are aspects it fumbled but also aspects it excelled in, and I feel like this issue focused more on Infinity‘s strengths, allowing the series to go out with a bang. When I think back to Infinity, I hope I remember the thrill of this issue, and not the glut of spaceship battles or redundant tie-ins.
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Man, it’s always weird to see Cap leading a team like Hulk, Hyperion and Thor in a slug-fest. Like how does his strength even register in that room? And really, he gets in one goog thwack with the shield and then he’s basically useless. (Though, to be fair, everyone else also proves useless, and Thane has to sorta save the day.)
I think Cap just tags along as a field commander, but the fact that his shield is unbreakable Vibranium makes him at least somewhat useful–he was able to deflect Midnight’s spear, surprising even her.
But yeah, I was pleased to see Hyperion included among the Avengers’ heaviest hitters and allowed a chance to strut his stuff.
Hyperion is still so strange to me. I’m looking forward to Avengers not being the center of the Marvel Universe for a while so Hickman can get back to those kinds of issues that would explore him a little more (or Smasher or any of the non-huge characters: like I still don’t know anything about Sunspot or Cannonball).
I’m just looking forward to Nick Spencer’s upcoming Avengers series (“Avengers World”, I believe?) that’s supposed to bump Hickman’s Avengers down from bi-monthly to monthly and is said to be specifically set up to help explore some of the more minor Avengers characters who haven’t gotten a chance to shine yet, especially since Spencer co-wrote some of the most character based issues of Hickman’s Avengers (such as 12 and 13, the Hyperion spotlight).
I hope Hickman does some more issues like that as well, of course, since he’s definitely capable of it, but I’m not holding my breath.
I feel like there’s a lot left on the table here with Doctor Strange. We get a little bit more of it in New Avengers, but it’s interesting to note that Ebony Maw’s whole deal is taking control of the most powerful person in the room, and Strange was his first target. I know we’re playing with Inhumans next, but I’d be willing to wager that some Serious Magical Shit is being seeded right now.
I am rereading this whole series, from the Prelude in Avengers 14-17 and New Avengers 8 through to the end. I’ve now read through all of Chapter 3, so about half of this. These are my notes.
Major note – I’ve enjoyed this as a collection a TON more than reading them one at a time. However, there seem to be a load of unresolved plot threads in this. Way too much hand waving for me. Oh well, here is the prelude and the first half of Infinity. My notes to myself, maybe others. It might suck, it might refresh some things.
Avengers 14: Problems all over the world that the Avengers solve. AIM wakes something up. (SPOILER: It’s a robot that is super powerful)
Avengers 15: The Avengers save Perth. Captain Universe is (still) very confusing and talking like a senile Yoda. AIM’s powerful robot approaches Perth.
Avengers 16: I missed a joke the first read through. Starbrand: “The facility’s A.I. will also achieve sentience in roughly 3,200 hours. There is a 17% chance that it will be suicidal.” That’s funny right there. Captain Universe uses Manifold to translate, “Get bigger,” in words the Avengers will understand. He says, “Get bigger.” Starbrand is super-powerful, a weird Hulk out that. . . umm, accomplishes nothing, the AIM super-robot beats up all the Avengers. Hey, a lot happened! It wasn’t very interesting, but there was a lot of it.
New Avengers 8: No idea what Max, Black Bolt and Medusa were all about. I seriously am missing something about the Inhumans (and I have no interest in the Inhuman event coming up). The New Avengers are worried (duh),Wakanda attacked (and whupped) Atlantis, and Earth is invaded by Thanos’ evil peoples.
Avengers 17: AIM got their super-robot back (was this thing ever seen again?), Ex Nihilo and Abyss joined The Avengers. Not much happened.
Infinity 1: Best value of this series, $4.99 for a ton of stuff. Thanos gets the Agullo tribute. The Spaceknights lose and a world dies. I was surprised by this. Builders suck, but “Let it be as if they never were,” is a cool line as they destroy a civilization. Skrulls are hiding (peacefully?) on Earth. Space is in a panic, everything is going to die, The Avengers go to space to save the day. Thanos plans on attacking the Avenger-free world.
Avengers 18: Skrulls died a bunch and united. They teamed up with The Spartax Empire, The Kree, Ronan and the Accusers, The Shi’Ar Imperial Guard, The Brood, The Annhihilation Wave, and others (including Earth’s Avengers). The good guys ambush the bad guys, but. . . It’s a trap!
(Was Sunspot’s question to Spider-Woman about having something to eat an inside joke?)
New Avengers 9: Thanos wants the missing infinity gem and his tribute (we later find out to get his son). Black Dwarf gets to fight Black Panther. Proxima Midnight meets an already defeated Namor, who betrays Wakanda (WITH A SMIRK!). Strange is no match for the Ebony Maw (which was pretty shitty). Max is excited by the discord.
Infinity 2: Other than Attilan, NY, and Wakanda, Earth pretty much lost to Thanos. A tribute is demanded of Attilan. In the wake of the trap, even though m(b)illions died, Smasher is in love. An Ex Nihilii killed himself, which caused the death of a world, which was a victory. . . The narrator said so. I don’t know why. Oh, yeah. Thanos is looking for his son.
Avengers 19: Some Avengers are captured. Creepy full-figured Ex-Nihili caresses, then takes Captain Marvel. The Builders are confused by the friends we have. J-Son is an idiot. This issue talked a lot.
New Avengers 10: Black Bolt bluffs his team, who go looking for Thanos’ kid. Thanos is mad at Black Dwarf for losing. Namor is bitter. Seriously though, he has a point. How did the Illuminati not know that Atlantis was completely destroyed or that Namor and Black Panther are stabbing each other in the back as fast and as often as possible? Dr. Strange found the hidden Inhuman city, The Ebony Maw decides to leave him alive (huh?) and doesn’t believe him about the incursions (like Dr. Strange would lie about that) and Wakanda sees about 8 million of Thanos’ ships above them.
Infinity 3: The Builders killed 40 million with drones on Ringworld (copyright?). Worlds surrendered. The Kree surrendered! Spartax surrendered. The rest will fight and Cap has a plan! The plan worked and they took over some ships and blew the bad guys up. Starbrand had more power. There is fighting on Earth as Thanos goes for his tribute. “No,” says Black Bolt. That was cool.
Avengers 20: The Captured Avengers, old and new, are rescued. The Avengers have won some battles, so they strategize with the others. Ex Nihilo and Abyss talk to the other Golden Ex Nihilo guys and find out their Abyssi aren’t there any more. Captain decides to surrender (kind of). This issue was boring and confusing.
That was The Prelude and the first half of Infinity. I hope to reread the rest this weekend.
Well, now I’m going to speak my mind in regards to Infinity #6. It was overly predictable and disappointing. Besides the art, there was only two scenes that I enjoyed. When Hulk had a smile on his face as he rebounded from Thanos’ punch and when he held the weight/force of a star.
This whole last issue could have been truly epic. But it fell flat. Hulk transforming back into Banner in the middle of the conflict made no sense at all, despite having Proxima Midnight ripping her weapon out of him. In a life or death altercation like that, Banner should have remained transformed.
I know for a fact that this wouldn’t have occurred if it was the Green Scar incarnation, who would have powered through and continued to fight on. But this I put the blame on the Marvel Editors/Executives, Mark Waid and Jonathan Hickman for not knowing how utilize planet-busting powerhouses like Hulk, Thor and Hyperion. All share the blame here for the Hulk and everything else that transpired in this final issue.
Don’t get me wrong. I did like that Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight and Ebony Maw got some time to shine these past six issues and in the Avengers & New Avengers tie-ins. Nonetheless, this finale and this event as a whole could have been a lot better.
And what irks me the most is that some Thanos’ fans, who think that the Mad Titan should be utterly unstoppable, complain about him being defeated by Thane via plot device. Well, they complained about the mere thought of the combined might of Thor, Hulk and Hyperion engaging Thanos and laying him out in a grand, epic fight. That wasn’t good enough for some of them. But to others, like myself, it would have been A LOT better than what we received.
It would have still given Thane a chance to get the last blow in while giving the big guns like Hulk, Thor and Hyperion a chance to shine. At least when the Justice League fought Darkseid in Johns’ New52 series each of the characters had a moment to shine, with each capable of holding their own against him. And I don’t know about the rest of you, but Hulk & Thor should have definitely done just as much damage to the Mad Titan as Black Bolt did, if not more considering they’re physically more formidable and harder to beat down than BB who was just screaming the entire fight.
Now it seems like Thane is set to replace Thanos, becoming a far greater threat than his father ever was. Not my words, but Hickman’s. That’s going to be tough for Thane to pull off. I mean, Thanos become Omniverse Supreme in ‘Marvel: The End’, was virtually omnipotent when he obtained the Infinity Gems, and was a universal threat when he held the Cosmic Cube.
So how is Thane going to compare to all that Thanos has done?
The involvement of Thanos was another wasted opportunity. So much could have been done here. I mean, Marvel has totally forgotten the Mad Titan’s rich history and character development.
I loved what Starlin and Giffen were doing with Thanos. He moved on with his life and further developed as a character. It was a shame that all that came to an end during the “Thanos Imperative” event. The only real part of Jason Aaron’s terrible ‘Thanos Rising’ that I liked was when Thanos ignored Death at the end of the final issue.
That’s how I believe Thanos should have stayed. He should have moved past his love/obsession with Death and continued to develop as a character. And I’m enjoying ‘Infinity’ because of Thanos’ involvement. Now let me explain as to why I am.
It seems that Thanos has moved on. He seems intent on killing his son not for Mistress Death, but instead for his own satisfaction rather than appeasing her. In some ways, it could be argued that Thanos has/wants to become his own definition of Death and be worshipped in order to defy/spite his former mistress/love.
The problem is that Marvel isn’t going more in depth with this angle and the character’s growth in the last decade or so. It would make a lot more sense if they would have shown us why Thanos has seemingly reverted to being a genocidal space tyrant.
For example, in his brief conversation with his son Thane in Infinity #5, it would have been better if it went down like this.
Thane: Why are you doing this?
Thanos: Because you keep me awake at night. The very thought of you, out there, extisting enrages me. You represent the being I once was… of a servitude that I no longer honor. And soon that will end.
I love Thanos. He’s my favorite Marvel villain. It’s just that recently he hasn’t been written as well as he should.
I believe he should be powerful, capable of taking on a fighting mad Hulk, Thor and Hyperion all at once and managing to match them/hold his own for quite a spell. But I also believe he should be extremely cunning and intelligent. That’s what makes him a threat. Not his power, but his intellect and cunning.
But ever since ‘Thanos Imperative’ he’s been severely lacking those qualities that I loved about him. And ‘Infinity’ finale didn’t bring out the Thanos that I know, love and respect.
There’s also another angle I could see besides Thanos wanting to become his own definition of Death and spite his former love.
I think it would have been interesting if Thanos’ desire to kill Thane was out of a father’s mercy. Now let me explain.
Thanos would be determined to kill all of his offspring not out of fear that they’d seek to end him, but that they would become like himself. He fears that they would be manipulated by Death and become like him or something far worse. They would endure all the horror that Thanos himself went through his entire life. That’s why he was determined to kill all of his children. Not out of bloodlust, not out of fear or sport, but out of mercy. The mercy of a father.
Why couldn’t Marvel and Hickman have done something like this with Infinity? I mean, Thanos coming to seek the Infinity Gems and to kill his son with little or no reason as to why? Doesn’t sound like the Thanos I know. There’s usually more to it than that when the Mad Titan is concerned.