Wednesday, 25 March 2015

New Avengers, Volume 2: Infinity Review (Jonathan Hickman, Mike Deodato)


Oh, Jonathan Hickman, New Avengers was supposed to be your good Avengers comic! So what happened? One word: Infinity. Boooooo! 

A long time coming, Black Panther and Namor finally have sex fight each other, Wakanda leading the hostilities against Atlantis for what Namor did during AVX under the influence of the Phoenix Force. Then Thanos invades, looking for the Infinity Gems and… something else… and that takes up the rest of the book. Hickman touches on the world’s colliding storyline from the first book briefly at the end to give it the semblance of connection to the series but this still feels like a jumbled assortment of odds and sods. 

It’s weird how Hickman’s written Black Panther: a loner who hangs out in The Necropolis all day with giant bombs, plotting nation building, like a superhero Unabomber! I don’t know much about the character but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t this nuts before. That’s partly the problem though: I don’t know or care much about Black Panther or Namor so seeing the two fight isn’t satisfying or very interesting. I just thought, these guys are supposed to be super-smart - they’re part of the elite Illuminati, which is what this book really is, not an Avengers comic - but instead they’re having a pissing contest like a pair of Hulks. Hmm...

Then we get to the Infinity stuff which are the side issues in between the main event so if you haven’t read that you might find this collection a bit puzzling. One minute Thanos invades, then Atlantis is surrendering, then Black Bolt’s set off a bomb, there’s talk of someone important who Thanos is here to see, then it’s over and Thanos is defeated. Wha… huh?! I didn’t like Infinity and I liked the side-issues even less. 

Here’s a good example of why this book story is so unengaging: a fleet of Thanos’ ships invades Wakanda led by one his lieutenants, Black Dwarf (who is neither black nor a dwarf). We see Black Panther and Wakandan forces firing guns at Thanos’ troops, we see Thanos’ troops firing back at the Wakandan forces - but what are we seeing and why is it important? Are the Wakandans outnumbered? Where are Black Dwarf’s forces attacking and why? Who’s winning - can we bring the view to look over the battle for some perspective? 

But no, characters fire guns while spouting exposition, Black Panther wrestles Black Dwarf who eventually slinks off defeated. Oh, uh, yay? Hickman is a big picture kinda writer - HUGE battles, alien army invades Wakanda, HUGE guns, tons of destruction!! Ok, moving onto the next big thing... - but the details matter in making what we’re seeing seem significant to the reader. Of course I’m not going to care about this sequence - no care is taken by the writer in crafting a convincing or meaningful battle scene in the first place, it’s just a generic battle!

Nonsense prevails and Infinity plays itself out (and if you don’t know Infinity’s story, lucky you!) as Black Swan (does every other character have “black” as a prefix in their name!?) reminds us that the Illuminati were supposed to figure out how to save Earth from multiple planets crashing together but by then I’d lost all interest. Eh, they probably figure something out in the next book, I don’t need to read that to find out. 

Mike Deodato’s art isn’t bad except for a few pixelated-looking panels and repeated drawings - such is the price of drawing monthly comics. I preferred Steve Epting’s art from the first book but then that’s the story of this volume 2, isn’t it? The first one was so much better! 

Like all cursed events, Infinity disrupted a good series by throwing it wildly off course. Infinity tie-ins litter this volume, giving it this a very uneven reading experience. Bah, yet more disappointing comics from Hickman!

New Avengers, Volume 2: Infinity

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