- June 23, 2021
Infinite Frontier & Comic Book Reviews 6/23
The Hellfire makes its rocky way towards its end with three more issues, just as DC starts and interesting path with its Infinite Frontier miniseries. DC is finally giving us what we want, a more open DC Universe. If only it didn’t feel so disingenuous, as the major characters and their titles limp a bit in its dust.
It’s amazing how one company can be so inconsistent week after week, and week to week. I wish I could be a fly on the wall when they came up with the great Infinite Frontier, and the lacking Detective Comics and Superman issues this week.
Infinite Frontier #1
Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Xermanico
Coloring by: Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Lettering by: Tom Napolitano
Infinite Frontier #0 didn’t exactly light the world on fire. There were so many characters that were nothing more than guest appearances for a superhero collage. After that, they were lost to the annals of Batman comics.
Infinite Frontier #1 is a step in the right direction. It makes the universe feel big again, as if characters exist outside the Trinity and the Justice League. It’s just not in the way I expected, despite the fact that DC has been telling us this is how it will be for a while now.
The multiverse is cracked wide open, wanting to live up to the name Infinite Frontier. Bringing back Justice Incarnate and putting it in a book with the Totality is a fun way to make the world feel big. Despite all of these characters, the creative team doesn’t allow the book to feel bloated just yet. This is a plus for a first issue of a series that will eventually lead into an event. While I’m all tuckered out on events after Death Metal (*ugh*), I could use a well-planned and steady build up before we get another.
The best way they do this is by taking the time to actually put the spotlight on normal people. Normal people are caught up in these events all the time, yet we rarely see their perspective. How terrifying it must be to see omnipotent gods fighting your world’s greatest heroes, beset by a red sky.
Now, how amazing is it to know the multiverse is real, and only some people know it? In terms of other books, DC isn’t fleshing out this idea enough. It’s told so well in Infinite Frontier #1, that it’s almost to this book’s detriment that its the only place to see regular people grappling with the multiverse. Almost.
Another thing Infinite Frontier does, is keep pretty much every A-lister outside of the Flash, out of the book. Even the one Batman here isn’t our main universe Batman, or a even likeable one. At the same time, every piece of the DC Universe feels represented, save for magic. I don’t expect that exemption to stay that way for long, but it’s great that nearly every corner of the DCU has a member either on the Totality or Justice Incarnate.
This book really has its own identity right off the bat (pun-intended) and feels fresher for it. I’m so happy to see Calvin Ellis’s President Superman on the cover, and placed to play a big part in the book. The same goes for Alan Scott Green Lantern, and his two kids. This new miniseries seems poised to actually live up its name in an exciting way.
Bring on, the Infinite Frontier.
Hellfire Gala #10-12
Written by: Benjamin Percy, Al Ewing, Si Spurner
Art by: Scot Eaton, Valerio Schiti, Bob Quinn
Inking/Coloring by: Oren Junior, Matthew Wilson, Marte Gracia, Java Tartaglia
Lettering by: VC’s Cory Petit, Arian Maher, Clayton Cowles
Design by: Tom Muller
These last few chapters have felt the least like they were part of an event. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad, they’ll actually all pretty good. It simply makes the Hellfire Gala feel pretty disjointed. It feels as if this X-Men event is more defined by moments than actually story.
The first defining moment has to be the sheer fashion and characters on display. Then the next was the terraforming of Mars. And now lastly, we have the reunification of Magneto with is adopted daughter, Wanda Maximoff.
The best and worst thing about the Hellfire Gala is that we get to see heroes from across the Marvel universe just hanging out. There’s no big bad to fight, and no world ending threat to get in the way. Everyone can just get together and talk. This is no more clear than in these last three issues. When everyone is talking about different things like they actually would at a party, it becomes difficult to appropriately pace the issues and plan them out.
While I enjoy the small moments, in fact I love them, I wouldn’t expect others too. This will be an event people either absolutely love or hate. I for one, love seeing how characters react to the X-Men standing alongside their old villains. They’re questioning what it means to forgive evil, and if that’s actually just standing alongside it. And I love seeing Captain America be happy that the mutants are pushing their solar system into the future, but sad that humans and mutants couldn’t do it together.
But few things will be as impactful and beloved as Magneto wanting to reconcile with his daughter. It’s the parent’s responsibility to reach out to make amends with the child, not the other way around. It’s a small, character driven moment, that feels fit for a soap opera, and it’s right at home with the X-Men.
The Hellfire Gala exemplifies what people don’t want to admit the X-Men do best. They do character drama, melodrama even. They it so well and succinctly that sometimes it gets in the way of what we expect. This is going to be one of my favorite X-Men events when it ends next week (I believe), but I would understand and be unsurprised to hear that other people find it middling.
Guardians of the Galaxy #15
Written by: Al Ewing
Art by: Juan Frigeri
Coloring by: Federico Blee
Lettering by: VC’s Cory Petit
When I picked up Guardians of the Galaxy this week, I did not expect a tie-in to the Hellfire Gala, and really good one at that. With the new status quo of both the X-Men and the Guardians of the Galaxy, we have old heroes and once-upon-a-time villains working together. With Dr. Doom and Super-Skrull on the Guardians, Nova is understandably peeved.
Does working with these villains, even for the good of the galaxy, justify walking side-by-side with evil? Richard Rider, Nova, doesn’t know the answer, and doesn’t like that he has to ask. As a fan of both sides of Marvel, it becomes a small but emotional fight when Nova decides to attack Magneto.
Magneto was a villain who killed innocent people, but at least his cause and his intention were far better than the villains on the Guardians. But that doesn’t stop Nova from reaching his breaking point. He attacks Magneto, makes an ass out of himself, and finds himself absolutely lost.
The creative team here does something special with two characters who barely know each other. They try to find solace and understanding with old feelings and old ideologies. Do people change, and if they do, how accountable do we still hold them? There’s no complete answer, but it’s a satisfying question and conversation that brings two once-diametrically opposed men together after coming them to blows.
This is an especially small issue with a big end reveal, but the creative team continues to pack so much into every panel. I can never recommend this series enough.
Detective Comics #1038
Written by: Mariko Tamaki
Penciled by: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inking by: Viktor Bogdanovic, Daniel Henriques
Coloring by: Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by: Aditya Bidkar
Batman had to make an appearance this week. We escaped last week without mentioning one of his books, but not this week. The first thing I notice about this book is that Dan Mora isn’t doing the art, just like last issue. It’s a good thing that Tamaki is putting her story into motion, particularly with the new villain, Worth.
It feels timely to not only have Batman de-moneyed, but to throw him against a psychotic billionaire with no thought to those around him. Last issue he blew up a police station with bazookas, and this issue, he blew up the sewers and a whole building. He cares for nothing, and he has all the privilege to get away with it.
I honestly love Worth as a villain for Batman. He wants to avenge his daughter, but his methods and stupidity keep that from happening.
But the art is not its best. I’ve seen each person on the art team work on better looking books, so I don’t why this issue feels so… stale. It’s almost as if it wasn’t properly colored, and the designs weren’t finished. Dan Mora’s absence is felt, and I really want to know why he’s disappeared from this book. To be honest, he was its biggest selling point.
The one plus to it, is that we get Batman with small, circle, owl eyes, which is cool when its consistent. So, if you’ve liked the story so far, you’ll like where this book is going. If you came here for the art, here’s hoping you learn to like the story, or this is an era of Detective Comics many people skip.
Written by: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art by: Scott Godlewski
Coloring by: Gabe Eltreb
Lettering by: Dave Sharpe
One would think that after a detour into Batman, Superman would be the way clean the palette.
I don’t know how the creative team that gave us a banger like Future State: House of El, could be so boring here. Back in Future State, and the beginning of Infinite Fronter, Superman hit home by thriving on the fraying connection between Clark and his son, Jon. It did what the best Superman stories do, tell the story of normal people through the guise of a man with superpowers.
I don’t why that stopped happening. What we get is a continuation of the last issue with this boring alien species, on their boring looking planet, being saved the second Jon learns how to use his ultraviolet vision. This issue and this story feels as empty and barren as its setting. It’s almost as if one writer couldn’t do two entertaining Superman stories at one time between the main title and Action Comics.
Actually, it’s almost as if this series is ending for a new one with a different creative team. This feels like a holdover, and it feels disrespectful that it would waste our time with a nothing story. This week, Calvin Ellis is the real Superman we need in Infinite Frontier #1.
The Infinite Frontier Entertains and the Hellfire Gala Astonishes
I feel like I go through an Identity Crisis (heh? I’ll see myself out) every time I conclude my reviews. This week wasn’t bad. I read more good books than bad, so why I do I feel so down on this week?
I saved the worst for last. Never save the worst for last kids, that’ll ruin the day for you. This week, the worst was Superman, and considering how amazing his variant cover was, that really blows. He deserved better, and we deserved better than the stuff that’s supposed to hold us over until Tom Taylor’s run starts.
At least we got President Superman to save the day. At least we have that to keep us excited for the future. I could say the same about the Hellfire Gala and the X-Men, but that would be more redundant. The X-Men are killing it, and they have been for a while now.