INFINITY COUNTDOWN: ADAM WARLOCK #1 / Writer: Gerry Duggan / Artist: Michael Allred / Color Artist: Laura Allred / Letterer: Cory Petit / Release Date: February 7, 2018 / Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s ironic that as information has proliferated and comic fans have gained countless resources to learn about series they’ve never read, comic publishers remain fond of publishing “recap books”—issues that use thin, often transparent stories to disguise a long-winded recap of past events. Though there are superior examples of this style, recap books often land somewhere in the neighborhood of mediocrity. Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock, the opening salvo in Marvel’s buildup to an Infinity Stone event, proves itself an unfortunate example of just such a book.
Picking up immediately after Adam Warlock’s emergence from the Soul Gem in Guardians of the Galaxy 150, Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock spends a few pages on a testosterone clash between Kang and Adam before abandoning that pretense and embarking on an episode of Adam Warlock…This is Your Life! For several pages, under the guise of having to start at the beginning to explain Adam’s place in the upcoming conflict, Kang narrates Adam’s entire history. Then, after showing Adam (but not the readers) the full nature of the threat, Kang strikes a deal with him to hide the Soul and Time Gems before sending Adam to ancient Egypt. Ancient Kang precedes to talk a lot but say very little before packing Adam into hibernation to get him to 2018.
Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock is a difficult comic book to review. There’s no story here. The issue is a combination of two sentiments: “previously in Marvel” and “next in Marvel.” The script is a nonstop exposition dump on Adam Warlock’s origins because, the reader is told, Adam factors heavily into the upcoming Infinity event. But Adam Warlock traditionally factors heavily into Infinity events anyway. In the past when he’s been reintroduced, pertinent information has been provided in-story as needed. I found myself wondering—especially given the decompressed storytelling style in Marvel’s event series—why that same strategy couldn’t have been employed again. The cynical answer I came up with was that Marvel wanted an extra five dollars from their customers this month and by slapping “Infinity Countdown” on this issue they could achieve that.
All that thinking I was doing while I read the issue brings me to my central problem with the book: it’s not engaging. Unfortunately Gerry Duggan’s script for Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock is dialogue heavy—to the point of Adam actually talking to himself during a fight. Adding to the distraction is Michael Allred’s art. Adam Warlock’s face is strangely stylized compared to every other character: perpetually distinctive cheekbones and wide eyes that only grow wider with surprise. I found myself thinking that Kang, often portrayed as a villain, was by far the more relatable and sympathetic of the duo.
These sorts of issues can be done well. Marvel’s been making them in one form or another for a long time, and they’ve produced engaging examples. One of my favorites in this vein is Stryfe’s Strike File—possibly the best thing to come out of the “X-Cutioner’s Song” crossover in the 90s. In that instance the story was barebones and the character recaps were done as computer files. The streamlined style allowed detailed art and rich character profiles. The problem with Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock is that it tries to do too much—Adam’s complete backstory, hints of the new Infinity threat, and a thin but convoluted plot. The excessive dialogue keeps anything in the issue from feeling dynamic, and the art style makes Adam less relatable. As a recap book and event prologue, Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock builds no momentum for the upcoming mini-series; it accomplishes what it sets out to do in the most forgettable way possible.
Verdict: 2 out of 5
Theron Couch is a collection of 1000 monkeys on 1000 typewriters trying to produce Hamlet. From time to time he accidentally types comic book reviews. Theron’s first novel, The Loyalty of Pawns, is available on Amazon and he’s published assorted short stories. Theron maintains a blog with additional comic and book reviews as well as posts on his personal struggle with mental health.