Marvel Comics annual sojourn into the wide world of event comics starts up on May 4's Free Comic Book Day with "FCBD: Infinity." But until recently, the specifics beyond that one-shot preview issue by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Jim Cheung. Now fans know that August sees the launch of the full, six-issue "Infinity" even by Hickman and artists Cheung, Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver – a story that sees the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy taking on threats in space and on earth including the Mad Titan Thanos.
"It's big. Roughly 18 issues worth of story if you include the ['Avengers'] and ['New Avengers'] tie-ins," Hickman explained today during an open Q&A at Marvel.com. The writer was joined by Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso and SVP Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. "'Infinifty' delivers on our promise that it's called the Marvel "Universe" for a reason. No series has narrowed the gap between Earthbound and cosmic heroes more than this," Alonso said.
"It's a battle waged on two fronts, as the Avengers head off into space to deal with a looming cosmic threat, only to have Thanos strike at an undefended Earth during their absence," Brevoort explained of the series' core pitch. But over the course of the chat, the trip filled in many more details about the book including who would be drawing what, how many tie-ins would be published and which heroes and villains would be taking part in the story.
"The central idea was Jonathan's," Brevoort said of the series' origin. "It was a pitch for a big summer story to run in the 'Avengers' titles that grew and expanded out from there...Jim is doing issues #1 and #6. Jerome and Dustin are divding #2-5 in a way that will hopefully make story sense when you see it." Hickman soon clarified, saying, "Jim is doing the book ends. Jerome is covering space. Dustin has earth."
As far as the shipping schedule, Brevoort promised, "Six issues over four months, between August and November. So one in Aug, two in Sept and Oct, one in Nov." He went on to say of the tie-ins: "Both 'Avengers' and 'New Avengers' will be doing full-fledged tie-ins throughout the duration of 'Infinity.' So that's six issues of 'Avengers,' #18-23, and four issues of 'New Avengers,' #9-12. On top of that, there'll be an assortment of tie-ins in other titles across the Marvel line, books as diverse as 'Scarlet Spider' and 'Thunderbolts' and 'Wolverine & The X-Men' and 'Captain Marvel'...There'll definitely be more tie-ins than there are for 'Age Of Ultron.' It'll be more in line with 'Fear Itself' or something of that size in terms of tie-in issues."
The executive editor added, "Also, can I reveal that Leinil Yu is drwing the six AVENGERS tie-in issues, starting with #18? And there's some Atlantean-related goings-on in 'New Avengers' #7 even before we get to 'Infinity.'"
Brevoort dug deeper into the core story, saying, "Out in space, the threat that's headed this way is the Builders, the oldest race in the universe, whom we've seeded in earlier issues of 'Avengers.' They're tearing their way through the great civilizations of the universe, so expect to see the Kree, the Skrulls, the Shi'ar, etc...Thanos himself has five new key lieutenants, the Cull Obsidian, who are like the five fingers on his massive hand. He points, they do. Each one is a fascinating new character in their own right....'Avengers' will follow the Avengers on their mission into space, and 'New Avengers' will be dealing with the Illuminati team on Earth. But while it seems like two stories, it's all really one massive story with many arms and many parts...Maybe even some Spaceknights."
Hickman noted, "On Earth: The Illuminati are big. The Inhumans have a big coming out party. In Space: All your favorites. The return of the Skrull Empire. The Imperial Guard. The Kree. The Shi'ar. The Second Annhilation Wave. The Brood. The Spartax. And then there are the bad guys."
Some expected players in the saga were Lee and Kirby's Inhumans of whom Brevoort said, "And as we've mentioned elsewhere, there's a big role for the Inhumans to play in all of this, given the fact that their civilization strattles the line between being space-born and native to Earth...The Inhumans are great characters, and for all that they've been around for decades, we feel like we've only just scratched the surface of them. Big Inhumans plans down the line, growing out of 'Infinity.' With Black Bolt in 'New Avengers' and Medusa in 'FF,' they've been getting more play recently than in a long time. Expect to see more of that." He added, "Medusa will be in 'Infinity,' but it's too early to determine whether there'll be a full-on 'FF' tie-in story."
As for the Builders, Hickman promised that despite some early appearances in his Marvel NOW! "Avengers" run, "You don't need to know anything. We'll set it up for you. But, if you have been reading, you know that they are one of the oldest races in the Universe and they've been up to shenanigans for millions of years…and it's finally coming home to roost." Brevoort added, "They're the oldest race in the universe, they seeded life and tended it like a garden over the millennia, creating several cosmic systems to manage its growth. The Garden, comprised of Ex Nihilo, Abyss and Aleph, from AVENGERS #1-3, was one of their systems. The tip of the iceberg. This is Daddy coming home."
Overall, they promised the event would hold significance to Hickman's run and to the Marvel U as a whole. "[This is] definitely just a part of the story along the way, albeit a big part. Jonathan's got two years of stuff mapped out even beyond 'Infinity," Brevoort said while the writer added, "In terms of the longer story I'm doing, yes, consider 'Infinity' as the end of act one. 'Infinity' is massive, but the aftermath is going to be something else." The editor also noted, "'Age Of Ultron' is before 'Infinity,' but it doesn't lead directly into it. It does, however, lead into a bunch of other cool stuff, some of which will happen after 'Infinity!'"
As for other heroes from the Marvel U that may show up along the way, the trip promised appearances from Silver Surfer, the X-Men and the cast from the New Universe who have just reappeared. In fact, Hickman said most of the cast of his "Avengers" comics will play a significant role. "Smasher will be all over 'Infinity'. She's got the connection to the Imperial Guard, so she'll be crucial," Brevoort said with Hickman adding, "Big Smasher moments in the Imperial Guard and Space sections of 'Infinity.'"
Alonso noted that Marvel was "still discussing Adam Warlock" but he seemed enthusiastic about the character's future in the modern Marvel U.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on "Infinity" as it becomes available.