All of the Jonathan Hickman’s various Avengers plot threads start to weave together in “Infinity” #5, and as always Jerome OpeÃ±a and Dustin Weaver bring their usual celestial splendor to galactic warfare, planetary incursions, and all things grand and cosmic. In fact, there’s enough intergalactic grandeur in this issue to give Galactus a bad case of interstellar indigestion.
All of this infinite epic-ness that makes this and every issue of “Infinity” such a spectacle, though, is also what makes it so distant and soulless. It’s a comic stuffed full of high-level concepts like countless otherworldly armadas battling all-powerful nihilistic forces and inter-dimensional rifts that result in entire planets being destroyed. The scale is so immense that battles won and lives lost have little emotional impact. It’s difficult to relate to anything that happens on this level because so much of it has to be left unseen and therefore implied, and much of what is seen is armada vs. armada or army vs. army, not character vs. character. Worlds die, but there’s no human connection to any of it; it’s like watching the Death Star destroy Alderaan, but there’s not anyone around to care.
As far as cosmic epics go, there are plenty of planets, spaceships and dimensions to make it work on a macro level, but on a micro level, the story is clumsy and unwieldy. The game-changing moment from last issue that inspires a universal-wide revolt this issue looks great and it’s cool to see the good guys start kicking butt, but there’s really no explanation as to how such a singular event would turn the tide on such a scale so quickly. It’s as though Hickman frequently chooses to ignore the small things so he can just move forward with the bigger, cooler stuff. Little things seem to slip by editorial, as well; a line about Thanos chasing death is used in the story-so-far segment on the first page, and repeated almost word-for-word by a character later on.
The story works a lot better when Hickman focuses on individual characters that aren’t commanding a fleet of spaceships or leading a legion of alien soldiers into interplanetary battle. Thanos himself remains as imposing and threatening as ever, and his last remaining son Thane is an interesting chip off the old pruney purple block as he wrestles with his life’s mission coming into conflict with his destiny as an Inhuman, not to mention the pending confrontation with his old man.
“Infinity” #5 is a great comic for those looking for pure, unfiltered, cosmic space adventure, and nothing but. Such an adventure, though, without sufficient characterization to support it and provide a human connection is like a one-note guitar solo, or a one-ingredient recipe. A cup of sugar might be sweet, but as part of a batch of chocolate chip cookies, it’s much better. This is epic space opera that’s paired with Cliff’s Notes characterization, and because of this comes across much shallower than it should.