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This week (11 September 2013) at the House of Ideas, yet another Avengers title is launched in Mighty Avengers #1, “Infinity” gets tied-into with Avengers #19 and Infinity: The Hunt #1 (kinda) and the crossover we didn’t have to have continues in X-Men #5. This is Graphic Bits.
Following Uncanny Avengers, Avengers, New Avengers, Young Avengers, Secret Avengers, Avengers Assemble and Avengers A.I., we need another Avengers book like a hole in the head. Of course, the “Infinity” event is an excuse to rope another team of heroes into the mix, and who better than the Heroes for Hire? Semi-retired Avenger Luke Cage is hanging out with the new Power Man, Spectrum (Monica Rambeau) and The White Tiger, before the Superior Spider-man wrist slaps them all for being mercenaries. With the Avengers in space, only this mismatched group can save New York. While it’s great to see Luke Cage front and centre, with sadly only a text message from Alias star Jessica Jones, it’s hard to get too excited about a series that has been crammed in sideways to fit to confines of this very specific event. Superior Spider-man’s presence is interesting, but surely someone has to work out that it’s not the same guy now. Greg Land’s art is lovely, albeit almost too good for the street-level look and feel they are going for here. This series will undoubtedly be more interesting when this tie-in is over.
It is now virtually impossible to extract any individual issue of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers from the overarching story that he has been building for the better part of the last two years. What remains impressive in this Infinity tie-in is Hickman’s ability to rapidly bring people up to date, wrapping in the events of Avengers Assemble and Captain Marvel for new readers. There’s plenty of action, tension and double-crosses from all 27 of the characters listed in the introductory pages (!), although we ponder why J’son of Spartax is so against the “backwater” humans. Didn’t he shack up with one to a make Star Lord baby back in the 1970s? Either way, coupled with Leinil Yu’s stunningly epic and dare we say sensual artwork, Infinity hasn’t missed a beat since it has kicked into high gear. It all builds up to a hell of a cliffhanger, leading to another big issue next week in which we assume something will happen with the Inhumans. Of all of the events that are running this month, this one eclipses the others by miles.
Despite the comments above, as good as Infinity has been, there’s always going to be a few weak links and cheap crossovers. Case in point is Infinity: The Hunt, ostensibly a ‘Contest of Champions’ series that ties into Infinity. Unfortunately, this first outing does neither of those things terribly well. The basic premise sees Kindt pitching the top students from the various Marvel academies filled with mutants, Avengers, Wakandans and Atlantians against each other. As a result, most of the issue reads like a ‘secret files’ special, presenting page after page of capsule origin stories and stats. There’s very little in the way of actual combat, and the Infinity tie-in is a page or so of a vague crash-landing at the very end of the book. It’s all setting them up for a game that is now being played “for reals” Sanders delivers some capable art, and a numbered cutaway of the Avengers Academy is a particularly nice visual entry to this world. Yet this is ultimately an uninspiring and disposable first issue to a mini-series that seems unlikely to be essential to the bigger events of the Marvel universe.
The other big event this month is “X-Men: Battle of the Atom“, crossing over All-New X-Men, X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men. The beauty of the series is that you don’t need to have read any other books in the ongoing series to enjoy the crossover, but the flip-side is that this is a story that could have just as easily been told in a standalone mini-series. As X-Men of three separate eras chase each other around looking for sanctuary, there are echoes of Avengers Vs. X-Men. For fans of Wood’s ongoing story, this tie-in suffers for pushing that all-female cast into the background for the moment, as is the case with the other books. Regardless, it’s still a high energy story that has been escalating at just the right pace, and with the introduction of the Uncanny X-Men into the fold next month, it’s a powder keg waiting to go off. There’s still a great deal to enjoy, including the art from David Lopez that is especially fun around the escapades of the younger Scott and Jean. A fun diversion, but it will be good to get back to Wood’s main story in issue #7.
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