Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Infinity Crusade, Volume 1 by Jim Starlin

Many of you will recall the first two parts of the “Infinity Trilogy”—Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War—from a little while back here at Luke Reviews. It is finally time to wrap up this trilogy with Infinity Crusade, which is collected in two volumes due to the tale’s length. This will wrap up the background reading to get up to speed with the “cosmic comics” of Marvel, letting us jump on to the new stories being put out now, which will start up sooner rather than later with all three books of Annihilation.

The end of Infinity War was a definite cliff-hanger, where we finally learn what happened to the cosmic containment devices that the Magus was using. It is hinted at that, in opposition to the Magus, Adam Warlock’s male bad side, a then-unnamed female good side had stopped him. Infinity Crusade picks up with that idea, as we learn of this mysterious female good side of Warlock, calling herself the Goddess. She begins by casting Adam Warlock out of this dimension, and then scooping up the most religious-minded heroes and taking them away to a world of her own creating, Paradise Omega. From here, the tale splits three ways, as we follow the machinations of the Goddess and her quest to rid the universe of all evil no matter the cost, the heroes left behind who are trying to discover the kidnapper, and Adam Warlock, who is working behind the scenes to return to the universe and stop his good side.

More than either of the first two books, Infinity Crusade is much more obviously philosophical, with questions of faith thrown everywhere. One character questions the benefit of “too much faith,” while the main goal of the entire series is to stop someone whose goal is too extreme. The proposed “perfect” ruler would be very much one with equal good and bad, making the Goddess just as dangerous as the Magus. These underpinnings are certainly interesting fair.

The downside to this book comes in two prongs. First, as this story was initially told in three intermingling sources, much time is spent recounting minor details that the reader who reads the whole saga knows intimately already. Much more than either of the other volumes in the trilogy, this one has this excessive recounting that is unnecessary. The other down side is that, in the entirety of the first volume, there is almost no action. The entire first half is mostly people standing around talking, going over the same things repeatedly. The tale of Warlock was the most interesting, but with the quick approach of the wrap-up of his solo act and joining with the group, even his tale is starting to slow. While the build-up appears to be coming to an end, both of the other two books manage to integrate action and story-telling in a wonderful way, while this one flounders, and ends up doing little to nothing.

I have high hopes for the second volume, where it seems like things will come to a head, and which will make this first volume a necessary precursor, but I couldn’t help but feel that this prelude could have been so much more.


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