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Infinity - A comic story with no end
on 3 March 2014
Let's start by being clear: this review is in respect of the Infinity book, all 600+pages, priced at around £45. I bought this because I mistakenly thought Jim Cheung had drawn more of it than he actually had. However, it was heralded by Marvel as being the latest epic so I thought I would give it a go.
If you have been around for as long as I have you will recall the original Kree-Skrull War depicted in the original Avengers run. This story line saw Earth sitting at the beach head of a war between these two intergalactic empires and the Avengers (and Rick Jones) being all that stood between us and annihilation. Great story, great art and for its time groundbreaking. Fast forward forty years and someone says, "let's do that same story again but on a bigger scale and featuring more characters....after all, more is better". And that is the problem with Infinity; there are simply too many characters to follow and each is diminished by the sheer scale of the story. Captain America is used as the link between each scenario but it seems unrealistic and contrived. Thor is reduced to being a support role and has no majesty or grandeur about him at all. In fact the whole comic lacks grandeur or cohesion. Why does Thanos, the mad god, need to surround himself with nihilists who worship death and why do all the worlds so readily fall into line, following the heroes from a backwater, even if, as is explained, their chances of survival appear to be rated better than others?
I'm not an academic but even I can see the story has an undertone of political dogma reflecting the current world view espoused by America - liberating other countries, other worlds is to be commended as long as those who you are liberating want this.
But before I get too heavily in to analysing the undertones of this let's remember its a comic. So is it any good?
I grew up on the work of Kirby and lee and I like my comics to be bigger than life, grand and fantastic. Sadly, there is nothing in this comic that really matches the spectacle of Kirby's vision. Not a single panel where one can look at it and think, that's what I would really like to see on the big screen. That just blows you away. That is not to say there is no good art in there it's just so varied in quality and finish and the constant change of artists makes it hard to follow.
However, that pales into insignificance by comparison with the story which seems contrived, disjointed and over all incomprehensible. The villains of the piece are not recognized characters in the Marvel Universe, as far as I know, but appear to have been created as a further omnipotent race of creatures who spawned all life throughout the cosmos. Their back story makes little sense and their defeat is neither clear nor believable. One minute they appear to possess a fleet of ships so great it fills the page and the next they are defeated by uprisings on various planets, with no proper explanation of why they do not eradicate those who have risen up against them. Then there is the Thanos sub-plot which only makes sense if you have read "Thanos Rising" . Unfortunately, this is just a rehash of what's gone before and the end left me puzzled as to what has been going on. This is Marvel Universe 616 wasn't it?
The book is nicely produced and the colours are great to look at with some great art in there, amongst a lot of sub-standard stuff. But in reality unless you are the type of person who likes to leave your comic books on the coffee-table to impress visitors and then claim they simply don't understand sequential art then I would not recommend this tome to anyone except the real die-hard fans, aged under thirty who won't remember the original classic on which it appears to be based.