Ceej Says… Comic of the Week (14th August 2013)

In yet another week with a huge amount of extremely impressive titles hitting the shelves, there was one book I read that stood above the rest of the field. So, without any further ado, I give you… my comic of the week!

Infinity #1 (Marvel Comics)

Cover by Adam Kubert. Click to enlarge.

Cover by Adam Kubert.
Click to enlarge.

Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jim Cheung

It would have been easy for Marvel’s latest crossover event to be lost in the shuffle.  I mean, Age of Ultron only just finished and Battle of the Atom is looming large on the horizon, so comic fans could understandably be getting a little fed up of the seemingly endless parade of crossovers, with “event fatigue” a more serious threat than ever before.

Thankfully though, Infinity kicked off this past Wednesday in grand style with a supersized 64-page issue that helped lay the groundwork for what should be an absolutely epic cosmic event.  And if we’re talking epic, then we clearly have the right man at the helm, as Jonathan Hickman has built a career on excelling in these types of situations.  Hickman sets out his stall perfectly here, breaking down all the main protagonists and bringing those of us who haven’t been following his work on Marvel Now’s Avengers titles up to speed, telling us pretty much everything we need to know.

A quick glimpse at the ‘cast’ page of this comic pretty much says all that needs to be said, with no less than 51 key characters all fixing to play some sort of role in the saga to come.  But somehow, in spite of the dizzying array of faces, some new, some old, the book never feels overcrowded as Hickman manages to flit back and forth between different galaxies with apparent ease.  It’s also a testament to the man’s writing that – in spite of the almost overwhelming necessity for exposition – the issue never seems to drag at all, and always keeps moving forward at a comfortably brisk pace.

Okay, so the writing is undeniably fantastic, but what about the artwork?  Well thankfully, Jim Cheung more than holds up his end of the storytelling partnership by treating us to beautifully detailed worlds, striking characters, frantic action set-pieces, and – lest we forget – the most memorable grin in the Marvel Universe.

Okay, elephant in the room, this crossover revolves pretty heavily around a certain Mad Titan, so it’s always going to be scored a little higher from myself as a result.  Sue me.  But to be fair, Thanos actually takes a bit of a back seat in this opening salvo, at least in terms of ‘camera time’.  While he’s undeniably front-and-centre in the story takes, there is so much else to like about this comic that my Thanos bias barely had to come into play at all.  Yes, Cheung does bring him to life in a couple of goosebumps-raising panels, but he also does a stunning job on pretty much everyone else, from Captain America and Hawkeye to the slithering, menacing Outrider assassin.  Sadly however (if you can call it that) he won’t be back again until issue six, with Dustin Weaver and Jerome Opena picking up the artistic duties on issues two to five.

So overall, what we have here is a stunningly illustrated, beautifully written and – most importantly – incredibly intriguing opening chapter of Marvel’s latest crossover.  Hickman’s poetic writing style and sense of grandeur marries up perfectly with the cosmic scope of the event, and in spite of me not being much of an Avengers fan, I think I’m going to be devouring as much of this as I can possibly get my hands on.

“Event fatigue” be damned.  Infinity is the real deal.

Rating: 9/10.

Honourable Mentions:  Batman #23 (DC Comics) kicked Zero Year up a notch, delivering an extremely creative take on the formative years of the Dark Knight, and featuring an absolutely stunning Rafael Albuquerque-illustrated backup story.  Also, East of West #5 (Image Comics) continued my ongoing love affair with Jonathan Hickman as the series hit its stride again with a powerful, emotional issue.

And that’s all for this week.  Let me know what you guys liked most this week, and I’ll see you all again here next week.  Same Ceej time, same Ceej channel!

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