Amazon editor, Alex Carr reviews the book leading into Marvel's tentpole event of the year.
Avengers Vol. 3:
Prelude to Infinity reads like a long setup in a series of setups. While Hickman’s relaunch of the Avengers (and New Avengers) has been a must-read title in 2013, it’s mostly
because the book has been busy building toward Infinity, 2014’s big crossover event from Marvel. As he did in S.H.I.E.L.D: Architects of Forever, Hickman wears his Big Ideas cap,
tying finely spun plot threads into head-spinning concepts. Rather than his celebrated work with the Fantastic Four, where similarly meta-questions
are posed against a backdrop of heart and humanity, Avengers, New Avengers, and S.H.I.E.L.D.
are more overtly calculated in their pacing, allowing for the occasional thrill
between chapters of exposition.
In short, Infinity
feels like a long time coming, and Prelude
to Infinity moves the needle just a little closer. The Avengers turn their attention to the
Savage Land, where “hatchlings”—creatures sent from self-proclaimed celestial
architects of natural selection--have grown into young children, and it’s up to
the team to foster and educate them.
Where the book rewards is in its welcome portrayal of Hyperion,
previously a manic version of Superman, who Hickman writes as a man in need of
family. In the Children of the Sun,
Hyperion sees what he once lost and he charges himself with their future—that
is, until the High Evolutionary and a reawakened Terminus appear.
While it’s nostalgic to see these foes again, their
proclamations are so similar to that of previous villains in Hickman’s run (“natural
selection,” “evolution,” the artistry of Nature, etc.) that it feels
overstuffed. The slow burn has begun to
fizzle, especially when Hickman introduces mechanical constructs that resolve
plot points without first clarifying them –so much is spent setting the stage
that the audience is forgotten. Hickman
does, however, write the sprawling Avengers team with aplomb. Spider-Man quips, Spider-Woman rolls her
eyes, while even Thor and Hyperion—two god-like heroes who fly, wear capes, and
bulge at the pecs—are unique in their respective portrayals.
But it’s a necessary read, overarching plot aside, as
colorist Frank Martin sheds light on Mike Deodato’s usually murky artwork,
lending a brightness to Thor, fight scenes, the lush world of the Savage Land,
and the High Evolutionary’s goofy experiments (is that a Triceratops/Sabretooth
tiger blend?). Deodato’s art has never
looked better—costumes and faces are all significantly differentiated among the
heroes and the action is crisp and clear.
Stefano Caselli steps in midway to take over artistic duties and it’s a
in February 2014, and it is there where Hickman’s grand plan will be laid
bare. It’s been a densely plotted
journey so far, sometimes at the expense of individual chapter excitement, but
never short on big ideas.
This review is by Amazon's Alex Carr. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.