Hickman’s Fantastic Four did things a little bit differently, having its big climax as the centerpiece of the run rather than the finale. And as I’ve mentioned before, his Avengers run maintained a similar structure. Hickman planned on having his big bombastic centerpiece crossover for a while, intertwining the conflicts of the Avengers with that of the Illuminati. But this was the Avengers, the new hottest property at Marvel, and editorial wanted an event. And so, we got an event.
‘Infinity’ is structured a bit weirdly. It’s technically a 6-issue event miniseries with the Avengers and New Avengers titles tying in, but the tie-ins are absolutely necessary, as the whole thing will basically be incomplete if you just try to read the miniseries. This is a symptom of Infinity’s original intent — in his first plan, there wouldn’t be a miniseries and the two ongoings would have just crossed over. What it effectively leads to is three Avengers titles intertwining for the duration of the event, and the entirety of this Complete Collection. There’s a LOT of content here — it took me a whole afternoon to read the entire collection because of just how beefy this volume is.
But it was absolutely worth it. Infinity is a story of the Avengers’ greatest triumph, and how it was actually their greatest defeat. It’s both the ultimate success of the team created in the first arc of Avengers, and the justification of the existence of the group formed in the first arc of New Avengers. The entire event is focused around the conflict everyone sees and the hidden conflict underneath it. It’s a story of duality and duplicity, of how everyone ends up losing in the end. It’s remarkably well paced and well structured, as every moment feeds into the greater story being told — there are no unnecessary scenes, no fat to trim. It’s 16 issues and 500 pages, and I can’t imagine it being any shorter.
What helps this collection even more is the complete lack of delineation between issues. There’s no way to tell where one issue ends and the next begins, even by art changes — several of the issues have multiple artists just by themselves, so unless you use the wiki to figure out exactly when each issue ends, it feels like one complete singular package. Each issue has multiple chapter breaks, full pages with title cards to note when a scene and tonal shift is happening. But since each issue has several of these, it really adds to the effect of the collection being one large story, rather than 16 separate issues held together. It’s a really great reading experience — I didn’t want to put the book down the entire time I was reading it, and I’ve read Infinity several times before!
While I do think it’d be a little more satisfying to have a collection that says “INFINITY” on the shelf, these Hickman Avengers Complete Collections are nice as a set. This is the first collection that doesn’t have a little extra story after the cover gallery, but it’s fine because there’s so much content before then. All the creators in this collection are firing on all cylinders, and it’s an incredibly enjoyable experience from start to finish.
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