Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Is it a distress signal? A tracking beacon? A reconnaissance transmission? We need strategy maps for every possibility. And that's the softer side. Our real concern, big picture - it may not matter what these things are saying
so much as who they're saying it to."
"Go back and tell the Avengers - they have not done enough. The machine is not complete. To protect a world you must possess the power to destroy a world. Go now - use words they will understand
They have to get bigger."
"Hope for the best, Tony. Plan for the worst."
"If this fleet reaches this system, the next step in human evolution is extinction."
Holy hell, this is enormous! In scale, in scope and in actuality: I calculate 600 pages at least.
It is also beautiful to behold: Jimmy Cheung has a sheen and shine of his own, there are few artists whose neo-classicism is as dark, brooding and foreboding as Mike Deodato; and as for the core visual creator, Leinil Francis Yu, he has exceeded himself. Enhanced by both inkers and colourists, the lighting on the Skrull portraits and the chiselled cheeks and jaw of Ex Nihilo are glorious. So much work has gone into even those brief moments which are so shown to be far from incidental, but wait until you behold what beckons in space.
Did you have your socks on earlier today? I hope you have slippers.
Scientifically sophisticated and philosophically exceptional for any genre in comics, this blistering, outer-space confrontation and Earth-bound conflagration is an exceptional climax to Hickman's run, with the promise of much more to come.
He's been building towards this in AVENGERS VOL 1: AVENGERS WORLD, AVENGERS VOL 2: THE LAST WHITE EVENT AVENGERS VOL 3: INFINITY PRELUDE and NEW AVENGERS VOL 1: EVERYTHING DIES and those titles' fourth and second volumes, respectively, are incorporated here in the right reading order. It is seamlessly choreographed, even though it is a battle on multiple fronts with inextricably linked subplots.
It's also incredibly clever once you puzzle out all the pieces. It's incredibly clever once each strike and counter-strike is thrown in your face. There are some ingenious minds at work here: the fictional tacticians because of the creative minds behind them i.e. writers Hickman with Spencer. And so, here we go:
The biggest permanent assembly of Avengers has been gathered for they know that something is coming.
Meanwhile a covert offshoot, the Illuminati - consisting of the Black Panther, Reed Richards, Iron Man, the Beast, Namor of Atlantis, Black Bolt of the Inhumans and Dr. Stephen Strange - have taken desperate measures to fend off an escalating series of incursions: the intrusion of planet Earth from one parallel universe to another. From up in the sky they descend on a collision course, and there can only be two outcomes: one of those Earths is sacrificed in order to save those universes
or everything dies in both.
The Illuminati are working on it, but this is their dilemma: they want to preserve this Earth that they live on with those they hold dear but, in order to do so, they must destroy another Earth equally as valid as theirs. They must commit global genocide - the obliteration of billions of individual human beings with loved ones of their own - and I'm afraid they have built the weapons to do so. They have already destroyed all but one of the Infinity Gems in the process. And you know who has a history of coveting those Infinity Gems, right?
Meanwhile Black Bolt harbours secrets of his own - a plan he has hatched out with his mad brother Maximus - driving a wedge between him and his wife Medusa. An alien Outrider has been dispatched to steal a secret from Black Bolt's mind, but that one isn't it. Nor is it the existence of the Illuminati. Or, really, the destruction of the Infinity Gems. So what secret will cause Thanos to demand, as Tribute of subservience and surrender, the heads of every Inhuman between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two?
What does that death-obsessed demi-god want?
Now: just as the Avengers uncover a cadre of alien, shape-shifting Skrulls on Earth without a single warrior-class member which makes no sense, they receive verified data that a distant Kree moon has been destroyed. It came via an unprecedented Kree distress signal. The Kree don't do distress or distressed: they do battle. But a force of destruction so massive it blocked out its sun is on the move and every space empire is scrambling. Enemies unite but everything folds in the armada's inexorable wake.
Extrapolating the trajectory of this universal Armageddon, its target is indisputably Earth.
Captain America rallies the Avengers, newly enhanced with beings so meta that one is the universe herself, and, leaving only Iron Man behind, declares that the only hope mankind has is to take the battle to the stars. To join forces with the Shi'Ar Empire, Skrull Empire, the Kree, the Brood, Annihilus and even that creep of a king from Bendis' GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY in order to ensure that the armada doesn't even come close to planet Earth. To head it off before more damage is done. I'm afraid that they lose and lose badly.
And, on the dark, stark starlit moon of Titan, Thanos smiles.
His strategy has worked for the bait has been taken, and the Avengers have just made the most gigantic and appalling tactical error:
"Brothers. sisters. Sharpen your teeth, prepare to consume a great meal. Earth you see
she has no Avengers."
Collects INFINITY #1-6, current NEW AVENGERS #7-12, current AVENGERS #12-23, and INFINITY INFINITE COMIC #1-2 which were never previously printed at all.