The other day I gave my review of the Marvel crossover event that just finished up this week: Infinity. They always try to have big implications from the crossover events, but Infinity is a little different. Because it was a natural point in the joint Avengers plots of writer Jonathan Hickman. So there are some larger implications, some impact on the larger Marvel Universe.
But as someone who was, and will continue, reading Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers, there are other implications. Unanswered questions, continuing plot line. Places that things are leading to. So, I will look at where things are going in Avengers, New Avengers, and then the larger Marvel Universe. Spoilers to come, comics fans!
So, what Infinity did for Avengers is interesting. As I’ve mentioned, the Builders were coming from the very first issue, earlier this year. Ex Nihilo, Abyss, and Aleph were there, judging the Earth, rebuilding. Their first, main act was shooting bombs at the Earth to change it, to make it sentient.
But now, we’ve seen where these villains-turned-Avengers came from. We’ve seen the source of the Superflow, the source of the White Event, and the Nightmask and Starbrand. So while these characters may get more integrated into the team, or have to face new and unexpected challenges, they are, at the moment, fully introduced.
So in many ways, Infinity actually tied up and concluded the First Act of Avengers, I feel like. Some ongoing plot threads exist, some things have been hinted at, but for now, the first really major threat for which the team was pulled together has been defeated.
What threads do they have to continue? For one thing, there are still Origin Bomb impact sites which have not been dealt with. For instance, the Hand ninjas in Japan have one. Also, AIM has done quite a bit of meddling – for one thing, they have the Origin Bomb defense mechanism (big scary robot), and they came and took the Avengers’ DNA. That’s going to be bad, I’m sure.
And there are some large-scale things hanging out there. The Galactic Empires are rebuilding, and thinking of war, of conquest. The Skrull, the Kree, the Annihilation Wave. These are the sorts of large threats that you have the Avengers for, and so any one of these things could come back. But will they be attacking Earth? Or will there be a call from other worlds, for the Universe’s Greatest Heroes to come save them?
That’s what I’m excited for. To get back to Avengers business as normal. I want to see the Machine again, the cast page with the symbols for the characters – I want to see the addition of all of the new Avengers. Of Starbrand and Nightmask, Ex Nihilo and Abyss. I want to see what large threat they face next, but I’m happy to enjoy the ride to get there. Nothing so large is looming for them right now, so we get to build to it again, and I trust Jonathan Hickman to get us there.
However, an easy time from here is not what can be expected for the Illuminati in New Avengers. Things are not looking good. Right before Thanos showed up, Iron Man and Mr. Fantastic were talking. Talking about how they can start to expect several Incursions a month. At an increasing rate. That they maybe have three months before it’s too much to handle.
And they went, and they tasked someone with helping them deal with the Incursions… somehow. They don’t say who, but it’s interesting, because who could it be? Many of the best choices are already Illuminati, so not them. Many of the rest are already busy, are Avengers, or otherwise related. Maximus the Mad was busy building other things for Black Bolt. Bruce Banner is in space. They already told Dr. Doom to not be involved. Who could they have asked? Hank Pym? Forge? What other geniuses and builders are there they could have turned to, and for what purpose?
Beyond this, there’s so much on their plates, so many plot threads that have been started and not played out. Iron Man found the Living Tribunal dead on a moon. The Time Infinity Gem is still missing, very noticeably absent. Iron Man is building a Dyson Sphere.
They have Thanos in Amber.
And they close out Infinity with an epilogue in New Avengers 12. So much is set up in this. For one thing, the Black Swan talks to them about the fact that this was such a small, insignificant threat. The Builders not only are not the cause of the Incursions, and not only aren’t enough of a solution to it (they are only in about 5000 universes, so even if they destroy 5000 Earths… out of infinite…), they don’t even know what is causing them. They just know Earth is a problem and are trying to wipe it out. So no progress there.
So Dr. Strange takes things into his own hands. He has been preparing to turn to extreme measures, if necessary. But at this point, he is realizing that “if necessary” is going to happen. That Galactic Extinction events are happening because of this, from the actions of the Builders. That the time for drastic measures has come. And so, he turns to dark sources. For knowledge, to find out what is causing this? Or for ways to break a world? We’ll have to see, and I think this is our next and immediate plot-line.
However, beyond these giant problems, there are the tough decisions, and the things that these characters are going through will be with them even after the Incursions have stopped. (Unless, of course, they destroy the Marvel Universe.) Namor has lost most of Atlantis, destroyed by Wakanda. Black Bolt has lost Attilan, his kingdom, his wives, and his throne. Destroyed by himself. And Black Panther has lost his place in Wakanda, has been shoved aside and outcast.
They seem to be having all of these characters pay heavy prices. Next seems to be Dr. Strange, who is about to pay dearly for what he is doing, I imagine. After that, we have Beast, Iron Man, and Mr. Fantastic. What costs will they have to pay, what relationships broken, what loss? Will they fall out with the X-Men, Avengers, and Fantastic Four, respectively? I think so, and that journey can end up being nearly as interesting as this whole end-of-the-universe business.
So, the larger Marvel Universe is interacting immediately with the end of Infinity by transitioning into “Inhumanity,” a direct result of Black Bolt, and the Terrigen Bomb he used to turn all of the secret Inhumans on Earth and give them their full potential powers. All of them, all at once.
And so, they are crossing this into a number of titles, and I’ve looked at a couple. This is being used, at the moment at least, to introduce a lot of new characters, to add to a variety of comics. To usher in new heroes and new villains, super-people in peril, scientific experiments, the works.
In reading the Battle of the Atom, an X-Men event which ended recently, I noticed something. They’ve hit a wall with the X-Men. 50 years, and they haven’t gotten anywhere closer to Xavier’s Dream. Well, a little bit, with the existence of the Uncanny Avengers, but that team didn’t crossover into either of these events – they instead stand alone.
And they even showed the future of the X-Men in the Battle of the Atom. They have written themselves into a box, losing some ground to create new characters. Something the X-Men are known for, New Mutants. The “New” X-Men comic these days? All New X-Men is about the original X-Men, not about new characters. There’s some new-mutants collecting going on in both Uncanny X-Men and Wolverine & The X-Men, but the plot has stagnated a bit.
I feel like Inhumanity is a way forward for this, a way to introduce a large number of new characters, to explore them, find out which ones the fans like, which ones are fun to write, which ones to continue. Because I’m not necessarily a fan of the comics find these new characters – but once they’ve had some life breathed into them, they can be fun. Like with comedy, you have to try out a lot of jokes to find out which ones people laugh at. You create a lot of characters to find out who sticks.
There is an actual Inhumanity comic coming, and it’s being written by Matt Fraction. Here’s a writer that Holly and I have really been enjoying, with the Hawkeye comic (check out Holly’s review here). So I may give this a try to see where he’s going with this title, to see if these are origin stories, or if they’ve really got a plan for these characters!