INFINITY COUNTDOWN #3 / Writer: Gerry Duggan / Pencilers: Aaron Kuder & Mike Hawthorne / Inkers: Aaron Kuder & Terry Pallot / Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Cory Petit / Release Date; May 2, 2018
One could be forgiven for thinking that Infinity Countdown is simply narrative wheel spinning with no destination. The (everlasting) battle for the Power Stone would support that idea. Thankfully with Infinity Countdown #3 Gerry Duggan not only advances the plot but does so in unexpected and unconventional way.
Infinity Countdown #3 picks up right where the previous issue left off—with Adam Warlock watching Ultron trying to assimilate the Silver Surfer. This pays off in one of the first unexpected plot developments: after spending a great deal of effort defending and protecting the Surfer in the expectation of getting an ally against Ultron, Warlock can only watch as a rejuvenated Silver Surfer abandons the planet Ultron has conquered and leaves Ultron to further disseminate himself across the galaxy. For most of the rest of the issue the narrative follows the Battle on Xitaung which has been raging for the past two issues. The battle proceeds formulaically at first, resembling in a lot of ways the battle in the first two issues: minor victories against insurmountable forces that do little in the grand scheme. At long last, though, the dilemma of the Power Stone is resolved and the battle comes to an end.
As with last issue the art duties on Infinity Countdown #3 are divided with Mike Hawthorne and Terry Pallot handling the Adam Warlock pages. Their style continues to be one that employs heavy shading, especially on characters’ faces. It’s employed more successfully in this issue because it comes before Aaron Kuder’s pages rather than after. Kuder’s softer lines, rounder angles, and lighter shading offer a kind of soft landing from a more intense style rather than last issue’s jump up to the more intense style for the last half dozen or so pages. It helps that the story’s pacing supports this arrangement (and even creates a nice mid-issue cliffhanger).
Infinity Countdown #2 raised stakes and expanded the narrative beyond merely the Guardians of the Galaxy. With Infinity Countdown #3 Gerry Duggan also advances the plot. First with the Adam Warlock storyline, the progression here is a reversal of expectations with Warlock relegated to complete uselessness as Silver Surfer takes matters into his own hands and Ultron seemingly winning the day. It’s also frequently fun to see Warlock, near constant arrogant jackass, be taken down a few pegs.
The really big leaps forward in story, though, happen with the Guardians in the Battle of Xitaung—a fight that seemed destined to never end. If Duggan’s handling of the Warlock storyline upended expectations, his solution to the battle over the Power Stone is almost satirical. The Chitauri are winning. They’ve been winning. The good guys can retreat but they can’t take the stone with them. Duggan’s answer to the riddle he created? Revealing the Power’s Stone’s size to be a glitch in a reality that might be a simulation, shrinking it with thoughts, and sticking it in Drax’s sax to cosmically play the team off.
Going into the halfway point of the series I remained skeptical. With last issue I credited Duggan for resolving lingering Guardians of the Galaxy plotlines to focus on the Infinity Stones and adding Adam Warlock into the mix. But Infinity Countdown #3 promised more of the Battle of Xitaung despite the Guardians’ (eventual) certain victory; it was also likely that Warlock would save Silver Surfer and they’d work together once again. All the fun character bits aside this kind of repetition can make any storyline dull. Duggan’s creative choices—both with the Silver Surfer’s unexpected allegiance and the ultimate solution to the Power Stone problem—kept the issue and the larger storyline from becoming stale going forward.
Infinity Countdown remains a complicated series. The two art teams are a concern depending on their uses down the road; the styles may prove disruptive if their scenes were ever intermingled. I’d also still like to see greater advancement in the story. But so far Infinity Countdown #3 is the best issue of the bunch (Drax wiping out the Chitauri with a Power Stone enhanced saxophone almost earns that honor on its own).
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 Kenny G’s
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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.