Review: AVENGERS #18

Written By Jonathan Hickman
Art By Leinil Francis Yu
Release Date: August 21st, 2013

AVEN2012018-DC11-LRInfinity races forward as the Avengers and their allies face off against the Builders in the first major battle of all out intergalactic war. If there was any doubt as to the size and scope of Infinity, Jonathan Hickman does his best this issue to prove that this story is going to be one of the biggest and most epic stories ever told in the medium.

We live in an era of comic books where universe altering crossover events are par for the course. With these events we are always given tie in books that the creators and editors always assure don’t need to be read in order to enjoy the story. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, this is not the case with Infinity, as Avengers and New Avengers will be playing a vital role in the overall story. Jonathan Hickman has been on record as saying that his two Avengers titles help turn a 6 part event into a 16 part event. If you haven’t been reading Avengers and/or New Avengers you may find this a bit annoying, but by the time you put down Avengers #18 you will be sold. On a related note, some may have not noticed, but the importance of these two books to the story is readily apparent by how Marvel is handling the covers. While most of the tie-ins have an Infinity banner to show it is a tie-in, the covers themselves are in a different style compared to the main title. Meanwhile the covers of Avengers and New Avengers are made up to look exactly like the covers to the Infinity mini-series. I’m not %100 certain, but it does seem as if Hickman and editor Tom Brevoort want people to make the connection and figure that the two main Avengers titles are direct continuations of the main series.

The issue starts off from the perspective of a Skrull Warlord who has had a run in with the Builders and is looking to gain a seat on the Galactic Council. As seen in recent issues of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Galactic Council are essentially a United Nations style group with representatives from the leadership of each of the major alien races of the Marvel Universe. Hickman uses these characters to illustrate just how desperate the situation involving the Builders is. Long time Marvel fans will get the chills as sworn enemies decide to work together to save all of existence. As Gladiator of the Shi’ar, the Brood Queen, J-Son King of Spartax, Ronan The Accuser and the Kree Supreme Intelligence are coming together to try and formulate a plan, the Avengers are mostly relegated to the background. Hawkeye even quips about Captain America sitting back and taking orders. Despite the Avengers being background players early on, there are great nuggets of characterization, like the exchange between Hawkeye and Captain America mentioned above, or Black Widow asking Spider-Woman about working with the Skrulls. These moments make sure that the reader doesn’t forget that they are reading an issue of Avengers. What this all accomplishes is showing the reader that this threat is much bigger than Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. There really is a sense that this threat may be too much to overcome, and this sense carries over to the the “Battle of the Corridor” where Hickman and Yu deliver a space battle of epic proportions. The battle may only take up half of an issue but it contains everything you would want in a deep space battle, including plans and counter plans, surprises, an armada of big ships, and a whole lot of characters packed onto a page. In the best possible ways, I was reminded a lot of Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’ amazing work during the Sinestro Corps War several years back. While showing off the scale of the battle, Hickman also humanizes it a bit by bringing the Avengers back to the forefront of the story, and we see much of the battle play out from their perspective.

The art by Yu, Alanguilan and Gho lives up to both the script that Hickman provides, and the work Jimmy Cheung turned out in the first issue of Infinity proper. Yu has had a long career in comics, but he just keeps getting better and better while maintaining his unique look and style. He has quietly, but surely, become one of the premiere artists in the industry. His style screams big and bold, and it fits perfectly with a story that consists of a huge battle on the edge of a black hole. I also have to say that it was a nice touch to see Yu drawing Skrulls again. One of my favorite part of Secret Invasion was his rendition of the green shape shifting alien species, and five years later he can still draw the heck out of them. In another nice touch, Yu has been doing covers for Avengers during the Prelude to Infinity arc, so having him come and do the interiors felt seamless and provided a nice symmetry for readers.

I have a feeling that throughout the Infinity event I will be using the word “epic” a lot, because the story Hickman is telling is nothing short of well, epic! Considering that this issue is only the 2nd part of what will ultimately be a 16 part story, I am amazed at how quickly the stakes are raised, and how important this issue feels to the ongoing narrative that is the Marvel Universe. My only worry is whether or not the story can keep at this relentless pace until the end, but my worry might just be unfounded as Hickman has yet to let me down.

Overall Infinity is shaping up to be one of the biggest comic book events ever, and if these early issues of the event are any indication, it may just end up being the BEST comic book event ever. Infinity #1 got me excited for the next few months, and Avengers #18 went to show that my excitement was well warranted. If you like superhero comics there is no excuse not to be reading this epic story from one of comics’ greatest minds.

Verdict: 9.5/10

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