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Friday, August 16, 2013

Infinity and Beyond


Another busy week, so I still haven't read most of my comics for this week. But I read the important one out of Marvel this week; the first issue of Infinity, by Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung.

Oh man, another event/crossover. Okay, but this one is supposed to be good! It's the first in a six-issue series that is basically the culmination of the events that Hickman has set up in the recent issues of Avengers and New Avengers. Both titles are tied together but with separate plot lines. Avengers sets the world's greatest heroes against threats that no one of them could handle alone, yadda yadda. Except in Hickman's iteration, Captain America and Iron Man aim to "go big" by picking up many new members, such as the mutants Cannonball and Sunspot, Shang Chi, the alternate universe version of Hyperion, Captain Universe, and others (full roster shown to the right). They have been dealing with the emergence of a race of "Builders" that have sent their emissaries to Mars to re-shape the Earth like gods. Builders are an ancient race that evolve races around the universe to their whims and shape events in their worlds. The Avengers have been dealing with containing their attempts to do so on Earth, first off by subduing the, for lack of a better term, leader of the process, the being named Ex Nihilo.
In New Avengers, Hickman once again assemble the Illuminati, a group of heroes formed during the Civil War event way back in 2005. With a few membership changes, this consists of Tony Stark, Black Panther, Beast, Namor, Mister Fantastic, Black Bolt, and Doctor Strange; a collection of the smartest humans and mutants, as well as the leaders of the nations of Wakanda, Atlantis, and the Inhumans. They have been dealing with rips in space/time that cause alternate realities to basically collide alternate Earths with one another. This series hasn't moved as swiftly as the core Avengers book, so the point of this plot is lost on me (or I just forgot, which is always possible).

As I said above, Infinity is supposed to be the culmination of all of this. We are shown right off the bat a race of mysterious beings traveling the galaxy slaying and enslaving worlds while talking about "tributes". These beings are shown talking to another "mysterious" master of theirs about said tributes. We then cut to a team of Avengers taking down a group of Skrulls disguised as slum dwellers on Earth. They didn't really fight back and seemed like they were scared of something more than just the Avengers knocking on their door. Sure enough, Agent Abigail Brand of the Earth-based galactic-monitoring task force S.W.O.R.D. contacts the Avengers to tell them of a Kree distress call warning of a wave of destruction Earthbound. The Builders are aiming to come and complete their mission in person it seems. With this revelation, Captain America assembles the Avengers to blast into space and take them on before they can reach the Earth.

But.

There are spies among them. Outriders, creatures engineered to be the deadliest assassins and information thieves in the galaxy, have infiltrated the S.W.O.R.D. orbital headquarters, as well as the Inhuman city of Attilan, where one such creature steals the knowledge of Black Bolt's Illuminati ties, as well as the fact that they know of the whereabouts of the legendary Infinity Gems (classic Marvel artifacts that warp time and space when combined into the Infinity Gauntlet). These spies return to their master with a message:

Guess who! Thanos, the Mad Titan, is now aware of an undefended Earth. It seems like it is time to strike with his own army while the Avengers are elsewhere.

So that is the first issue. The event looks to deal with a galactic war on two fronts; the Avengers against the Builders, and the Earth against Thanos. There will be many tie-in issues across many Marvel books, with Avengers and New Avengers tying in more closely to the core mini-series, since all three are written by Hickman. Since it is Hickman, we can expect big things. I read his run on Fantastic Four and FF, and while they weren't so much adventure romps that the family has been known for most of the time, it focused on events that unfolded over the course of his whole run instead of between smaller arcs. Hickman writes stories with depth and breadth to match. You may not know what the story is, or what exactly is even happening right away, but you can feel the epic forming. Events are usually played out with the intended gravitas of such things, and I expect Infinity to be no different. I trust Hickman to deliver an Earth-shattering story with long-felt effects. It only feels like much since it is only two-ish months after Brian Bendis' Age of Ultron event, which was long-delayed and longer than it should have been. Hopefully, Infinity will be the event of 2013 that AoU wanted to be.

Other things. I started replaying Final Fantasy XII. For some reason I really like playing it. I think it's the gameplay. I like the freedom of your party and I am trying to give my party actual roles instead of just going to the strongest weapons and armor like the last time I played it. The story is a bag of over-played tropes, and is basically Star Wars in a fantasy realm. It is less annoying this time around though. Also, I am aiming to get the Zodiac Spear, the strongest weapon in the game, to give to my main damage dealing character Basch. I have also started a Pathfinder role-playing campaign with some of my friends. I am playing a halfling rogue named Ebon. We spent five hours making our characters (since half of us hadn't done this before, aka me), and a half hour on the actual campaign, which consisted of one of our party members setting a bush on fire to light his cigarette. That bush was hiding a group of cobolds that was our first encounter. I'm excited to get back into table top role-playing.

And my hand is getting tired from typing. So good night er'rybody.

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