INFINITY COUNTDOWN #2 / Writer: Gerry Duggan / Pencilers: Aaron Kuder & Mike Hawthorne / Inkers: Aaron Kuder & Terry Pallot / Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Cory Petit / Release Date: April 18, 2018 / Publisher: Marvel
“Groot is victorious—just as Groot foretold!” In a way this sums up my feelings about Infinity Countdown #2. I continually failed to trust that Gerry Duggan would develop the larger story of the Infinity Stones (though in my defense I think he took his sweet time). After three issues, though, the story is at last starting to feel as large as it needs to be.
Who’s that hammering on an anvil for a shadowy master on the first page? I have no idea. But he’s doing a great job foreshadowing. Moving on…The lingering Groot storyline is tied up within the first several pages and cast aside almost as an afterthought. The Guardians arrive at the Power Stone’s location on practically the next page. The fight for the Power Stone continues without resolution but is often broken up into small, personal chunks (such as very pregnant Nova Commander Eve Bakian going into labor mid-battle). Separating Infinity Countdown #2 from its predecessor is that this second issue ties into the larger Infinity Stone story beyond just the Guardians of the Galaxy; Adam Warlock reappears with tragically out-of-date information only to discover that it’s not Magus he seeks…but Ultron.
I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a pregnant member of the Nova Corps in action. I always assumed they had a more robust maternity leave plan. But Eve Bakian’s story is a perfect example of the mini– character dramas that Gerry Duggan sprinkles throughout this issue.
Where the previous issue felt like a view from airplane height, Infinity Countdown #2 feels more like an embedded reporter’s view. The reader is there with Scott Lang’s unlikely idea, with Richard Ryder’s unexpected discovery, and with Rocket’s…well, whatever that was. This issue is mostly a fight for the Power Stone, but it also manages to be about people. The great tragedy is Adam Warlock’s narration at the end—a counterpoint that asserts everything the reader just experienced is meaningless.
In a larger sense, Infinity Countdown #2 feels like a ship in the process of being righted. The two prequel issues were hit or miss. Infinity Countdown #1 read like another issue of Guardians of the Galaxy. But with two big story developments this issue feels like the actual beginning of the main event.
Gerry Duggan ties up the last Guardians of the Galaxy thread not connected to the Infinity Stones. This resolution feels rushed (how many issues were devoted to solving the Groot/Gardener problem, after all?).
But it’s also like a written breath of fresh air—a sigh of relief and a “finally” in comic book dialogue form. Adam Warlock’s return to the fray further cements the issue’s “event” feeling. The sequence is relatively uneventful (the first two pages recap his deal with Kang) but they represent the miniseries’ expansion beyond the Guardians. Adam is connected to two different stones via the Kang deal, which essentially puts three in play.
Four issues into this special event “mini-series” (because it’s definitely a small-“e” event) Duggan seems to have finally found a balance of telling a small story within an issue while also advancing the larger overall narrative. While this is a welcome aspect to Infinity Countdown #2 it continues to make the overall Infinity Stones story feel haphazard—as though it was expanded at the eleventh hour when it wasn’t really designed to be as large as it now is.
Telling this issue’s story along with Gerry Duggan is, for the first time, a divided art team. While who drew what not specified, I would guess that Aaron Kuder handled all the pages dealing with the Guardians while Mike Hawthorne and Terry Pallot handled the Adam Warlock pages. The transition between artists is most jarring on Warlock’s face. For the whole issue the reader has grown accustomed to Kuder’s consistent facial style, which is at odds with Hawthorne’s pencils and Pallot’s inks when they draw Warlock’s more heavily lined and heavily shaded face. And past the difference in style, Warlock is somewhat inconsistent from panel to panel. My first thought was that the artists were attempting an homage or recreation of Mike Allred’s Adam from Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock, but the excess shading on close-ups suggests otherwise. Ultimately the inconsistency on Adam Warlock stands out primarily because Kuder’s characters are depicted so consistently.
What works very well where Adam Warlock is concerned, though, is Cory Petit’s lettering. Duggan’s script has no one narrating until Adam Warlock begins near the end of the issue, and the narration starts over panels of the Guardians fighting for the Power Stone. Petit connects the first box to the oversized lightning bolt from Warlock’s costume—giving away the identity two pages early if the reader is really paying attention. Then, of Warlock’s three colors to choose as a background he uses black, which will draw the eye because the pages of this issue—and indeed of most cosmic series—are full of rich, almost luminescent color. This may feel like a small stylistic choice, but it creates a kind of visual thunderclap with those first narration boxes appearing when none had come before.
Rating these issues continues to be hard. Do I judge solely on a single issue’s merits? Or, do I also judge its connection to the developing story? The first three I’ve come down squarely on the former. I probably shouldn’t change rules mid-game. However, this is the first Infinity Countdown issue that I’ve felt has actually advanced the larger plot that’s been hinted at; indeed, Infinity Countdown #2 is the first issue to make me believe there might be something real behind this curtain while still being an engaging issue. So I’m going with a bit of both.
Verdict: 4 out 5 Ultron Receptionists
Reading Infinity Countdown but missed our past reviews? Never fear! Plenty of humor and horror in the links below. And subscribe to doyouevencomicbook.com alerts so you won’t miss any upcoming Infinity Countdown reviews.
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.