Infinity #2

Now joined by two artists, Jonathan Hickman takes "Infinity" #2 across the cosmos. Jerome Opeña handles the space-faring segments of the issue while Dustin Weaver draws things as they occur closer to home. With twenty-four pages of actual story (plus the requisite, Hickman-favored chapter breaks and infographics) this sweeping epic now envelops the Illuminati, S.W.O.R.D., the Inhumans, the extra-galactic Builders, the faction of X-Men at the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning, the Avengers, the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, Black Panther, Thanos and his Cull Obsidian. Driven to leave no character unrepresented, the cast pictographic page has fifty (fifty!) floating heads.

Some appear in only one panel -- many without dialog -- but Hickman makes the presence known in the beginning and gives readers the pleasure of enjoying a "Where's Waldo?" challenge throughout the space opera that unfolds in "Infinity" #2 as Corvus Glaive comes to Attilan to issue a demand of Black Bolt and the Inhumans. Hickman leaves no doubt about the savagery of Glaive, elevating this new character to Villain of the Week status in less than five pages. That scene is peppered with posturing between Glaive and Medusa, but Glaive shows his hand, forcing everyone to realize he is as serious threat as he claims to be. Hickman adds some personality to other members of the cast, giving Smasher a line that doesn't seem to add up to much in the context of "Infinity" #2, but will certainly pay dividends later. Hickman also reminds readers of the seriousness with which a very human Captain America serves among the Avengers.

With the chapter pages serving as buffers in the action as well as becoming dramatic pauses between scene shifts, Hickman's artists swap war stories. Dustin Weaver handles the Earthbound action, including the dynamic confrontation between Glaive and the Inhumans. Weaver's characters are packed with as much emotion as his scenes are filled with details. Weaver selects moments to back off from detail, letting the expressions of the character expand into the space available. Colorist Justin Ponsor follows Weaver's lead, giving the emotions and the gesticulations of the characters heat and vibrancy. No character in this issue has a more subdued color scheme than Black Bolt, yet Ponsor creates ways to add depth and range to the Inhuman king. Ponsor capably patches the distance between Weaver and Jerome Opeña, who draws the spaceborne conflict with the Builders. Opeña's crosshatching gives the Marvel Universe a grungy, overworked appearance, which nicely molds to the shape of a universe cracking under pressure.

"Infinity" #2 provides enlightenment to the label of Cull Obsidian and the distinction between that moniker and the Black Order that has been applied to the collective of Thanos' generals. Paired with a sharp, six-panel recap of the events of "New Avengers" #9, the revelations in "Infinity" #2 make this installment of Marvel's summer event story a must-read. The recap is a nice touch for readers who can't afford or choose not to be plugged in to the entire crossover aspect of this event. Hickman and crew provide just enough to let readers know what they've missed and to stay up to speed, but the work is really much richer when absorbed completely. A clear message is delivered that will change the course of this series and inform the actions of Thanos as the Marvel NOW! universe faces a multi-pronged threat with ferocious capabilities.

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