We’ve reached that point in the year where it’s all about wrapping up and making way for the new–perhaps even time for lying to ourselves for “resolutions” and whatnot as well. It’s also the time of year when I think I should have more free time than I do, but family, friends, and holiday craziness always seem to get the best of me. This year is no exception, so today’s column will be on the brief side. Maybe.
Last week, I looked at a big ole cash grabbing, corporate synergizin’ web-slinging’ Spider-Geddon, a Spider-Verse crossover that left me feeling kind of ‘meh.’ Today, we’re going to look at another big Marvel crossover event I’ve been following, and by following, I mean letting issues pile up in the comic box until it was done and ready for reading–Infinity Wars! I’ll come back to Spider-Geddon later, as I feel one miniseries was done really well (spoiler alert), and one simply existed to grab mah cash.
Some background: Infinity Wars, written by Gerry Duggan and brought to life by Mike Deodato, Jr. on art and Frank Martin on colors, planted seeds way back with Duggan and Aaron Kuder’s 2017 Guardians of the Galaxy series. That run lasted for 17 issues and spanned from issue 1-150 (Marvel’s number is weird. It actually went 1-12, then issues 146-150).
The series did a great job doing what few of the Marvel books currently do in my humble opinion, it movie-fied the Guardians characters in such a way that they were still true to their comic origins, but if anyone was coming in cold from the movies, they would instantly recognize Peter Quill and Drax not only by appearance, but characterization as well. There was even that great Chris Samnee fill-in issue where Quill goes through space to “time travel” via radio waves in order to recapture his favorite cassette recording from the day John Lennon died. It’s great character driven stuff in a series that laid the groundwork for the search for the newly regenerated infinity stones with a lot of fun, action, and heart.
Then that series folded and we got Infinity Countdown, and Infinity Countdown: Prime, and Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock and a bunch of other stuff by Duggan and a bevy of quality artists like Kuder, Mike Allred, Mike Deodato Jr., and Mike Hawthorne. Countdown wrapped up threads from the Guardian series but also felt like it was just moving pieces into place, so I lost a bit of interest when Infinity Wars came out.
A quick side note: if everything, from Guardians to Infinity Countdown to Infinity Countdown: Daredevil and Darkhawk and Infinity Wars came out under one banner as one continuous series, or maybe one main series (let’s call it Infinity) and one subseries (Infinity Presents) for the one-shots, people would be talking about how great this is. By breaking it up into one regular style series (Guardians), one prequel series (Countdown), one event series (Wars), and one hundred one-shots, it just makes it difficult and tedious to follow.
It’s all quality stuff but it’s lost to the event stylings of comic bookery.
So let’s dive into the main series, which of course, starts with Infinity Wars: Prime, even though Prime is an Autobot not a flarging number. Correction, it is Infinity Wars Prime #1, but whatever.
The issue picks up the thread of Loki plotting his own schemes to acquire the infinity stones by reading in Omnipotence City Library. He’s wondering why he’s never the hero of the story. Maybe this will be his chance. He meets up with Flowa, one of the Asgardian librarians or “tomekeepers,” who helps Loki to understand how multiple universes can have all these similar characters but all end up the same way. Loki convinces Flowa to join him as his scribe to help him meet the various and sundry gods to help him on his quest. Now, before I get too far, do I know what Omnipotence City is? Nope. Do I know if Flowa is an established character? Nope. Do I need to? Nope. Duggan does such a great job of writing a story that invites new readers by being accessible enough AAAAAaand rewards long time readers with allusions and references and deep canonical dives simultaneously. If you’ve seen the movies, you can dive right into to Infinity Wars and not miss a beat. If you’ve been reading since the days of the Infinity Gauntlet, you can join right along and have just as much fun.
I tend to fall in and out of the cosmic side of Marvel every few years. I loved Silver Surfer in the run up to the original Infinity Gauntlet, but then lost interest and dropped off. I read the Abnett and Lanning Guardians of the Galaxy series and Drax and Nova and the other associated books (well after their release) until they mixed in with the Inhumans and I lost interest. I gave Bendis’s Guardians a shot, but couldn’t get into it. Then, the recent Slott/Allred run of Surfer and Duggan Guardians brought me back into the fold. The point is, there’s a lot of cosmic history I know and a lot I don’t. That’s ok in this book. The background I have helps, the background I’m lacking doesn’t factor in enough to ruin the story. Even just movie background is enough to know that when Thanos shows up, everybody’s in trouble.
Then, he gets stabbed through the chest and decapitated. Woah.
Loki is on the board, and Thanos is not at this point. I forgot to mention that Dr. Strange and Adam Warlock are looking for ways to collect and contain the potential damage from the Infinity stones.
Then, we get to Infinity Wars #1, where Strange brings together the various holders of the Infinity stones to form a new Infinity Watch. It’s especially fun to see Turk, the street level hood from the Daredevil universe who brings along other street level hoods like Bullseye and the Spot, interacting with all the Marvel heroes. “What’s a Thanos?” they wonder. This is where utilizing Mike Deodato for this series pays off. I don’t know if I would have chosen him because his style is so realistic, and this story is such a fantastical-in-nature storyline, but when the characters used to interacting with the real world show up in cars, they look like real people in real cars.
It sells the, for lack of a better term, reality of the story so that you can feel the impact–like when Star Lord gets impaled and killed by Gamora at the end of the first issue. Woah.
In the next issue, we see Dr. Strange bring Starlord back from the dead. We also see Thanos brought back from the dead, but not really. He’s more of a voice in Gamora’s head circa the soul-stone, I imagine. He’s acting as advisor as Gamora manages to take control of the rest of the stones. She lets the heroes think they’ve stopped her, and then brutally uses the power stone to take control of the rest of the gems. Oh, and she cuts off Adam Warlock’s head this time. It’s ok, she admits. “You’ll come back, anyway, you always do” Gamora says as Warlock’s headless body already begins to cocoon. It’s a really brutal scene and shows what Gamora is capable of. Just then, Loki shows up to play the Mephisto role for Gamora.
Thanks to Loki’s intervention, Gamora is convinced that someone else is pulling her strings (a soul-eater inside the soul stone, btw), so she doesn’t destroy the heroes, just move them into the stones. At this point, she gets her own version of the Thanos ‘snap’ and folds the universe in half–only instead of destroying the universe, she combines people. Same result as Thanos’s original plan–the universe, known hereafter as Warp World, has half the people, just without the death part. Also, you get mashups of all your favorite characters! How cool is that?
In addition to the ones described in the picture (the descriptions are hilariously delivered by Duggan via Loki), Wolvie/Emma are “Diamond Patch;” Hulk and Ant-Man are the strongest and smallest one there is; Ms. Marvel and Kang are Ms. Kang; Drax is joined together with a jazz musician!!! There’s so much fun to be had here. This is one of the main factors that separates Infinity Wars from Spider-Geddon: not only is there a solid story by a consistent, top notch creative team, but they’re leaving behind threads that I want to explore. I don’t care about Spider-man slogging about with Morlun for three issues, but I’m going to hit up the comic shop for some of these awesome Infinity Warps combinations. Here’s a whole universe left behind from this event that’s worth revisiting, whereas Spider-Geddon took off the board players like Spider-man Noir for the sake of a blah story.
Soon enough, the Infinity Wars story devolves into the combined (and freshly separated heroes) facing off against a Soul-Eater Demon named Devondra in the soul stone. The various heroes from multiple facets of the Marvel Universe: the Avengers, the Guardians, the Champions, the street-level heroes, the cosmic heroes, the bad guys–they all join together to help overcome the beast and leave everyone wanting more.
Flowra gets to write her book. Loki gets to be kind of a good guy. Even the combined Warp World gets to stick around by story’s end. Phlya and Moondragon are brought back onto the board, and the stones are separated and sent off to surely be discovered and brought back again in a few years for the next big crossover.
There’s also an epilogue issue that’s yet to come to help sort out the loose ends and set up whatever’s next.
Still, there’s more than enough to make this story feel worthwhile and entertaining up until the end. There’s enough big, crazy action and enough small, entertaining moments to keep this story effective on all fronts. The ideas and unusual character combinations (sometimes literally) keep the readers on their toes throughout this worthy event storyline.
Final Grade: A
Duggan and Deodato, Jr. do a great job telling an entertaining and accessible tale. The ramifications from this story feel like they’ll have a great impact on quite a few of the main players like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Adam Warlock. Meanwhile the bit players like Hulk and Ant Man and Spidey can go back to their universes unaffected. It was nice to have them around, but I don’t need Ms. Marvel lamenting about the time she was fused with Kang for years to come. It can be a fun footnote and forgotten. Plus, now we have the crazy Warp World to revisit as a result of this story, too, just in case Ms. Kang wants to make another appearance. Most important to me was that the characters all felt right, and the story mixed just enough humor and gravitas to be one worth revisiting from time to time. It doesn’t feel like it’s just a cash grab; this was a satisfying experience. I definitely want to sit down with the whole run starting with Duggan’s Guardians work when I have the time. Even by itself, Infinity Wars is definitely worth a pickup. It’s a worthy resolution to check out in the new year.
If you’d like to give these series a try, but don’t know where to go, try the comic shop locator.
If you’d like to leave a comment, I’d be delighted to hear from you–unless you’re spam! Don’t be spam!
Until next time, my friends,
My blogs will be the ones slaughtered by Gamora and brought back by Dr. Strange and then fused with another blog until we find a way to resolve the whole mess and set up the next blog! Happy new year!!!