“Infinity” is an interesting assembly of Marvel material for a free sampler on Free Comic Book Day. It features pieces of Marvel books from the distant past to the near future. The thread to tie it all together is Thanos — only a year too late to be pertinent due to “The Avengers” movie, but it’s intriguing nonetheless. Oddly, the book has a near total absence of recognizable Marvel faces. For something aimed at luring in new readers, much of this material will be far too obscure for them to instantly understand. It could make them dig harder but this feels far from the mark for an introduction to the Marvel Universe.
The issue opens with a 10-page tease from “Infinity,” an upcoming Marvel event from Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung. It’s a well-crafted sequence of pages, feeling like Guillermo del Toro doing Marvel space opera, but it falls flat in the context of Free Comic Book Day. On only two pages do recognizable Marvel characters appear, and one of those pages is just a giant headshot of Thanos. No active Marvel characters appear beyond standing around as possible victims for the event. As a tease for “Infinity,” it is sound and refreshingly feels like something new, but as a free sampler to lure in a swing audience, it doesn’t seem to represent what Marvel does best at all.
The follow up is a five-page story of Thanos and the Destroyer dueling physically and metaphysically on an unnamed planet. This story from Scott Edelman and Mike Zeck originally appeared in “Logan’s Run” #6 way back in 1977, in case you were wondering why you missed it. Again, this is quite a good tale but it doesn’t feel like the kind of story that will drive the next generation of possible comic readers into the Wednesday shuffle. The heart of the tale is a philosophical treaty and the leads aren’t exactly heavy-hitting, iconic trendsetters.
The final four pages are devoted to a sneak peek at “Avengers: Endless Wartime” from Warren Ellis and Mike McKone. Although it’s short, this might actually be the best part of the issue, as it’s got some superbly punchy writing as four major characters are revealed in Avengers Tower. Ellis writes a great back and forth between Steve Rogers and Jarvis that unpacks each character quite neatly. The next page brings a very nice bit of business for Hawkeye over the phone and the entry of Captain Marvel is simple and pleasing. McKone’s work is clean and conveys the characters and their dialogue well.
“Infinity” is a mixed bag. It’s full of good stuff, and it will probably whet the whistles of regular fanboys, but it doesn’t seem to fulfill the Free Comic Book Day manifesto, which should be to lure in new readers. The first two sections are completely baffling as to their inclusion, and the fact the first and last sections are only teases for larger things later down the line doesn’t give readers a full sense of what comics can do — unless what comics does well is constantly leave cliffhangers. This is a fun read but it isn’t definitive, rather something new readers might thumb through out of curiosity.