INFINITY COUNTDOWN #4 / Writer: Gerry Duggan / Pencilers: Aaron Kuder & Mike Hawthorne / Inkers: Aaron Kuder, Terry Pallot & José Maran Jr. / Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Cory Petit / Publisher: Marvel / June 6, 2018
I always hope to be surprised by my books—comics or otherwise. The Infinity Countdown story arc hasn’t really done that. Part of the problem may be that it spent three issues waging a war on a planet (and one of those cleaning up a Guardians of the Galaxy plotline). Meanwhile, the Adam Warlock plot sputters along at a pace of five pages an issue. In short, the series was going nowhere creatively. How ironic, then, that Infinity Countdown #4’s action had to go to Knowhere to deliver its best character pieces and first real surprises in the mini-series?
The issue opens with Nova, boosted by the Power Stone, dropping the Guardians off at Knowhere. He leaves the stone with Peter Quill before going off in search of his brother. The Nova Corps demands custody of the Power Stone, but Drax the Destroyer ignores everyone to take off with it on his own. Quill is summoned to examine what looks like the Reality Stone but doesn’t behave like it—a result of it belonging to another universe. The rest of the issue focuses on Saiph and Ultron’s attempt to seed the cosmos with himself. Silver Surfer has returned, bringing the Lifebringer with him. The question, will the Lifebringer do what Surfer has asked and consume the planet?
Gerry Duggan, by stepping away from the constant fighting of the previous issues, returns to his writing strengths: interpersonal relationships and character driven humor. The Guardians on Knowhere provide the latter. The smartest joke in several issues is when Gamora concocts a scenario with Richard–after they find all the Infinity Stones they’ll travel back in time to that exact moment with the stones in their position. Of course, the temporal ploy doesn’t work because this is only the fourth issue. Groot continues to be a font of humor, especially as he comments on the Nova Corps’ corruption before throwing a Corpsman down the hall. Drax taking the stone is the most extreme example yet of his “I don’t give a —-” attitude. This issue is steadily pleasant and funny in a way that past issues haven’t been. It’s lighthearted. It’s who these characters are: brave and strong but fully aware of the absurdity of the universe and its people.
Infinity Countdown #4 isn’t all lighthearted fare, though. Taking care of the interpersonal relationship aspects I wrote of earlier are Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock, and Lifebringer. Surfer wants Lifebringer to eat Saiph, thus ending the Ultron threat. But if Lifebringer eats even one planet it means the return of Galactus and his hunger. Duggan weaves a complex web of moral questions. What’s the bigger threat to the galaxy—Ultron or Galactus? Does anyone have the right to unleash Galactus even if it may save lives? And what of Lifebringer? Does he truly have a choice or are he and Galactus forces of nature that are two sides of the same cosmic coin? Duggan even reproaches arrogance as, near the end of the issue, Adam Warlock celebrates their actions while Surfer mourns. As has happened so often in these Infinity events, Warlock proves arrogance to be his biggest failing. This sequence of events does raise the question, though, of whether Duggan using Lifebringer in this way requires him to pay it off later in the story.
Like previous issues, Infinity Countdown #4 is handled by two art teams. In a previous review, I asserted that the styles of Aaron Kuder and Mike Hawthorne were so different that it would be jarring if the pages were ever intermingled. This issue tests that to an extent—Hawthorne’s pages bookend Kuder’s—and in another surprise I found it not jarring at all. The heavy shading from Hawthorne’s inkers, Terry Pallot and José Marzan Jr., continue to prove a distraction–as it did on Lifebringer throughout the book–but Hawthorne’s lines seem to have softened and rounded slightly, making them less of a transition from Kuder’s work.
As good as Infinity Countdown #4 is, it carries a flaw of having virtually nothing happen. There is a storyline—Surfer’s request to Lifebringer to solve the Ultron problem. Mostly, though, the issue feels like a collection of vignettes, and in an event mini-series like Infinity Countdown, an issue where very little happens is akin to holding one’s breath in expectation well beyond the point of ease.
Criticism aside, this issue follows up nicely on the previous one in reminding readers that there are big stakes in play, and this isn’t just a renamed Guardians of the Galaxy series. The series continues to improve issue to issue, but because it’s a mini-series, I’m left wondering why it wasn’t better plotted from the start to maintain momentum. Ultimately, though, Duggan delivered another winner in Infinity Countdown #4—one full of surprises both funny and horrible.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Stupefied Adam Warlocks
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| Infinity Countdown Adam Warlock | Infinity Countdown Prime | Infinity Countdown #1 | Infinity Countdown #2 | Infinity Countdown #3 | Infinity Countdown: Daredevil #1 | Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1 | Infinity Countdown: Captain Marvel #1 |
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.