The stories of the Marvel Comics Universe are crafted to go on forever, which makes "Infinity" a fitting name for the publisher's latest mega event.
Writer Jonathan Hickman, who reteams with frequent collaborators Dustin Weaver and Jerome Opeña on the series after a first chapter by Jim Cheung, joined Executive Editor Tom Brevoort for a "Next Big Thing" press call on the about to hit series spinning out of Hickman's own "Avengers" work.
Brevoort got the ball rolling by explaining the book's high concept: a war on two fronts. The Avengers head into space to fight a coming threat to earth while Thanos uses the opportunity to attack the seemingly defenseless planet looking for what the editor would only call "That which Thanos desires...these two arms of the story will intersect and dovetail before the event is over."
The call also discussed the "Avengers" series tie-ins which are a bit more central to the action as they're written by Hickman and because "the scope is so big." "There are events in the core 'Infinity' series that will be greatly expanded on in the 'Avengers' and 'New Avengers' tie-ins...it's not wrong to say they are virtually as important as the core book," Brevoort said, noting that the cover design and trade dress for those monthly series will look almost exactly like the core series.
The tie-ins will unfold in "real time" with the "Infinity" series. "It's possible we solicited a six-issue mini series and are shipping a 16-issue one," Hickman joked.
The writer spoke to his artists, saying that Weaver and Opeña are "equally adept at world building...the fantastic stuff I have in my head is always better when it's realized by those two guys." Weaver will draw the earth-bound action in issues #2 through 5 of the series while Opeña draws the space action. Hickman also said that he was happy to have Cheung as a contributor as he's been asking Marvel to work with the artist for years. After his work on the first issue, Cheung will contribute to #6, which he is drawing now. Meanwhile, Mike Deodato will continue to draw "New Avengers" while Leinil Yu will draw the space battles of "Avengers." "I've give him stuff that's as hard as I've had anyone draw for me, and he's just crushed it."
"Before I was doing 'Infinity' I was always going to do a story called 'Avengers Universe' at the same time in the regular books," Hickman said, noting that those plans are what will form the basis for the space half of "Infinity." It follows directly from the revelation of the cosmic entities called The Builders in "Avengers."
As far as characters who will be taking a bigger role in this series outside the core Avengers heroes most fans know well, the editor said Starbrand and Nightmask as well as the new characters like Ex Nihilo and Abyss will take a big part of this story. Brevoort added that this series will put the Inhumans on a different platform. Overall, he views this as a way that will really unleash the potential of the "galactic" half of the Marvel U. "This is about as big a story in terms of scale as has ever been done in the Marvel Universe."
Like recent events, the release of the series will be quick as all issues will ship between August to November of this year with the core series shipping two issues a month during September and October. "This will have the kind of sweep you'd expect from a 'Fear Itself' or 'Siege' or 'Secret Invasion' [in terms of monthly tie-ins]," Brevoort said, noting that the majority of tie-ins will take place in the Avengers titles both because "we have a lot of Avengers books" and the team takes such a central role in the event, but there will also be tie-ins in other books including certain monthlies in the X-Men line.
With Thanos as the big villain being set up in "Thanos Rising," this event won't be digging too much into his past. "'Infinity' is not going to be backwards looking with Thanos so much as forwards looking," Brevoort said with Hickman adding, "We don't do any kind of introspective look back at all in regards to Thanos."
Brevoort noted that Thanos has not always been after only the Infinity Gems of the Infinity Gauntlet even as the original '90s event that held the latter's name. Here, he will be removed from solely a quest for those very significant items in the Marvel U. "This is not the fourth or fifth part of that cycle," he said. "While there's obviously a thematic resonance in that it's called 'Infinity,' that doesn't have so much to do with the Infinity Gauntlet per se...certainly, the fact that the Infinity Gems when last anyone knew about them were in the hands of the New Avengers who kind of broke them is not something that's going to be untouched upon in the course of 'Infinity." Hickman added that he's actually writing pages about these ideas today, so they'll be involved if not central to the story.
Hickman said that he's introducing "generals" for Thanos designed by Opeña because a story of this scope with so many characters needed more players on the field as well as just adding some new ideas to the mix creatively.
The participants admitted that the appearance of Thanos in the "Avengers" movie sparked interest amongst editorial and the Marvel creatives in the character, but their plans for him in "Infinity" – while capable of bringing in some newer fans curious about the villain – will be independent of the Marvel Studios game plan moving forward. "We keep in touch with each other, and we're aware of it all, but we're really guided by the stories we want to tell," Brevoort said.
The writer repeated his oft-noted idea that this story is really only the end of the first act in his overall "Avengers" plan. He called his final scheme for the franchise "The biggest thing I can do" to which Brevoort stressed had no hyperbole as the full extent of the plan was just revealed to Editorial at this week's Marvel creative summit.
Finally, the call was asked about the involvement of X-Men characters in the event. With "Battle of the Atom" coming up as well, there will be less of a role for the mutants in the action of "Infinity," but they will be appearing. "We have no problem letting guys like Wolverine and Captain America being in eight or nine books and leaving it up to our readers or the Handbook guys figure out how it all works out after the fact," Brevoort said.
The call wrapped with Brevoort revealing that the initial "Infinity" prelude from Free Comic Book Day will soon be loaded onto the Marvel Comics App for readers to catch up if they missed the story in May.