Avengers #22

While "Infinity" is all about cosmic alien threats and worlds at war seen from a high level, writer Jonathan Hickman has made effective use of the tie-ins to show the human side of the story from the ground, figuratively speaking. "Avengers" #22 is a good example, giving readers a kind of behind-the-scenes look at some of the key characters who are the faces of one side of the war, namely The Avengers themselves. Hickman reminds readers that he hasn't forgotten which comic he's writing, and artists Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan make these characters look every bit the part of Earth Mightiest Heroes, even those who only recently became associated with The Avengers.

There's not much in the way of action, as the issue is an interlude of sorts that chronicles The Avengers as they move from war in deep space with the seemingly vanquished Builders back to the home front on their way to confront Thanos. Such a story might seem like filler as part of an arc that takes six main issues and ten tie-ins to tell, but it's actually a welcome addendum that gives "Infinity" a much-needed human connection that's been lacking from the main series. This issue kicks things off, in fact, with a little bit of human connection between Sam Guthrie and Izzy Dare, and while it's nothing planet-shattering, that's just fine because there have been plenty of planets shattered already.

Yes, there are lots of characters standing around and talking, as is often the case during this kind of intermission. But it's not out-of-place irreverent banter or melodramatic exchanges; it's exactly what it should be: the Avengers and their allies plotting out their next move even as they share their doubts over the coming battle. Hickman uses the latter half of the issue to show that, despite the seemingly-impossible victory these heroes had just achieved, there are solid and legitimate reasons for uncertainty as they head straight into the heart of another confrontation. In doing so, Hickman builds up the kind of tension that hasn't really been present amidst the massive events of the main story, and makes a more convincing case to pick up the next issue that the central title does.

Yu's pencils look rich and textured as inked by Alanguilan; facial close-ups are finely detailed; the heroes are handsome and the villains, and The Avengers villainous allies, are fearsomely ugly. The detail isn't as apparent on anything seen from afar, but the artists still manage to make a fleet of warships look plenty threatening, on one particularly impressive-looking full page illustration. Colorists Sunny Gho and David Curiel do their part to set the mood; darker hues throughout most of the second half of the issue echo the somber mood in between battles, while brighter tones enhance the moment between Sam and Izzy.

"Infinity" has been an unusual event in the sense that the tie-in issues have been just as enjoyable as the main story, if not more so. "Avengers" #22 certainly typifies this, and does its job to enhance and even improve on the overall event.

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