[SPOILER WARNING: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR "INFINITY" #2, AVAILABLE NOW]
Earth and its heroes may be the focal point of the Marvel Universe, but it's still part of a larger intergalactic community of planets and stellar empires. So when disaster strikes in a far corner of the cosmos there's a good chance Earth could be impacted, and events on Earth can have repercussions that ripple out light years across the galaxy. The current Marvel event series, "Infinity" is a perfect example of this. In the debut issue of the series a massive force of Avengers headed out into space to intercept the planet destroying armada of the enigmatic alien race known as the Builders, but in doing so, they accidentally opened the door for an invasion of Earth by the forces of the intergalactic mass murderer known as Thanos.
In issue #2 of the "Infinity" miniseries by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Dustin Weaver the two fronts of this intergalactic war heated up as the Avengers and their allies in Shi'ar Imperial Guard confronted a Builders' attack force and discovered a horrifying weapon in the aliens' arsenal, and Thanos made a demand of the Earth-based Inhumans. In today's installment of THE INFINITE WAR REPORT, we'll examine those events and more, as Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, who also edits "Infinity," joins us for some insight and commentary into "Infinity" #2.
CBR News: Tom, let's kick off by talking about Thanos' assault team that launched an attack on the Peak, the headquarters of S.W.O.R.D. We saw in "Infinity" #1 that Thanos had a man inside S.W.O.R.D. I'm curious, though, how big is his infiltration of that organization?
Tom Brevoort: I don't think S.W.O.R.D. is riddled with Thanos operatives and thralls. Nor does it really need to be. You've got somebody there, who as we saw in "Infinity" #1, essentially passed some information along. It's certainly easier for Thanos' guys to get into the Peak if somebody opens the door, but they're also entirely capable of finding a way in through brute force if that became necessary.
So it's not like what the Skrulls did to S.H.I.E.L.D. in "Secret Invasion?"
Right. He's got at least one, possibly even two, agents inside the organization, but it's not as if the infrastructure of S.W.O.R.D. has been completely compromised by Thanos' agents.
Are these agents assaulting the Peak human? Or are they human looking aliens like say the people of Spartax or the pink skinned Kree?
I would presume that everybody that is within Thanos' ranks are from other worlds. Exactly what worlds these guys are from is not specified here. They could be pink-skinned Kree or from dozens of other worlds. Ultimately, if you took X-rays their internal physiology might be very different than a human being's, but they can pass for human.
It's not impossible that there are humans within Thanos' ranks, but I wouldn't expect that there would be very many at all and they'd probably be holdovers from other adventures in the past. We haven't really seen that anywhere else. So my instinct is to say that these guys are probably otherworldly, but if tomorrow a story came along that showed one of them was actually Joe Schlabotnik from Hackensack [Laughs] and how he got involved with Thanos, that wouldn't be completely beyond the pale.
Thanos' infiltration of S.W.O.R.D. begs the question of what other organizations might he have followers in, say the Kree military or the Shi'ar Imperial Guard? Can you comment on that at all? Is that a good question to be asking right now?
It's a fair question, and it's not unreasonable that he might have sympathetic people within the big galactic powers of the universe. I don't know how relevant they might be to the specific objectives he has right now, which are very Earth-centric, but having seen that he has followers in S.W.O.R.D. it's not unreasonable that he might have agents in whatever the equivalent of S.W.O.R.D. is in the Shi'ar Empire, among the Kree, what's left off the warlord tribes of the Skrulls, the Spartax, or any number of other worlds. That's a definite possibility.
The soldiers that attack the Peak and the ones that later accompany Corvus Glaive to his meeting with the Inhumans appear to be pretty fanatical. I know Thanos' organization is made up of some pretty diverse followers, but how loyal and dangerous are the fanatics in the organization? And what is about Thanos that inspires such fanaticism?
I think Thanos has always been a fairly magnetic and forceful personality. Plus there's the fact that he claims to be so closely allied or in service to Death, and he's appeared to have gone to his final reward on multiple occasions only to come back from it. So he's often described as the Mad Titan but he's more akin to a God of Asgard. I suspect that some of his followers view him almost as a deity; the closest thing you're going to find to a god among the cosmos.
So yes, I think Thanos' troops are very nihilistic and battle hardened and most of them are ready to lay their lives down in Thanos' service. Certainly nobody that was in that scene in the Inhuman Royal Court hesitated when the command came to not just to die, but to die in order to prove the point that those in the service of Thanos can't be threatened with death because they embrace it. Death is their credo! So they're a very different sort of a problem for the Inhumans and the heroes of Earth to grapple with.
In this issue's sort of recap of the events of "New Avengers" #9 we discover that Corvus Glaive and Supergiant's attack on the Jean Grey School is finished and was successful, but didn't we just see the opening of that battle in "New Avengers" #9? Will we see the rest of it elsewhere?
I believe that most of what we were going to see of that battle was in "New Avengers" #9. Things get a little hazy for me, because at this point I'm a couple of issues ahead of you. [Laughs] So it starts to become a little fluid in my mind as to what was in issue #9 versus what was in #10 and #11 and so forth.
So I believe we saw a good chunk of that conflict in "New Avengers" #9. We may see a little more of it during "Infinity: The Hunt," but I'm not sure exactly how much will be seen there.
When Corvus meets with the Inhuman Royal Family he's very condescending and disrespectful. Is this just because of his ugly disposition or is it a strategic move to force them to get emotional and not think things through? Or is it both?
I think it's fairly consistent to the way he approached the previous world he visited to collect a tribute from in "Infinity" #1. So I think it has a lot more to do with who Corvus is rather than it being a specific strategic move. It may have strategic elements, but I don't think he comes across that way specifically as a matter of strategy so much as that's who the guy is.
The tribute that Corvus demands of the Inhumans is the heads of their young. We of course find out what he's really after later in the issue, but I wanted to ask how this compares to the tribute Corvus asked for in issue #1? Did he ask for the young from that planet as well?
Yes he did. I know it can be tough to tell with crazy looking aliens, and that's somewhat deliberate in this instance, but yes indeed.
So are these "tributes" Thanos' way of culling anyone who might grow up and try to get revenge against him and his forces?
We'll get a little deeper into what these are about in the next couple issues of "Infinity." Also a good picture of what's going on is painted in Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi's recently completed "Thanos Rising" limited series.
Let's move away from Earth for a little bit and into the developments in outer space. First, we have a battle between the forces of the Builders and the Avengers and their allies, the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. It's a battle which Gladiator, the leader of the Shi'ar people, gets involved with. How tough is it for a guy like Gladiator to sit a battle out? And it seems like with this battle he's committing himself to leading his troops from the front line. Is that true?
I think that's all true. It's very similar to around the time of "Fear Itself" where Cap was the head of the Avengers who were sort of the substitute force in the absence of S.H.I.E.L.D., which meant he had to act as sort of a general coordinating forces rather than being a soldier on the front lines.
I don't think Gladiator ever aspired to be the ruler of the Shi'ar. I don't know that it's always a role that completely suits him, and certainly he's going to be more comfortable and in much more familiar territory on the front lines physically battling the enemies of the realm, as he's done for so many hundreds of years, than he is sitting back and ordering other people to do that while he sits and waits. So even though it comes against an omnipresent force and in a terrible situation I expect it's a welcome moment for him.
This section also reveals that the Builders' agents, known as the Gardeners, have the capability of being turned into horrific weapons of mass destruction and some of them are not happy about it. Ex Nihilo is a Gardener that fights with the Avengers because of his disgust and outrage at the destruction the Builders are causing. So is Ex Nihilo's point of view shared by other Gardeners?
We'll see more about that specifically in "Avengers" #20.
Let's move on to the final scene of "Infinity" #2 where Black Bolt summons the rest of the Illuminati. The implants the Illuminati have are warning and communication devices, but do they also transport other members to their location as well? Did Black Bolt teleport his fellow heroes to this pocket dimension? Or did they arrive on their own?
The implants are more of a way of saying, "Meet me here at this location." They're not really that different than the old Avengers I.D. Cards or things along those lines. The devices can’t be used to teleport others to a location against their will. They can send out a signal though that basically says, "Illuminati stuff is up. Meet me here."
So the Illuminati members arrived at the pocket dimension by their own accord, and really that pocket dimension is the sphere we previously saw in "New Avengers #8." So to get there you just really need to walk through the door.
After the Illuminati have arrived we see a character eavesdropping on them. Is that Maximus?
That is Maximus.
Can you talk at all about Maximus' motivations for eavesdropping on his brother and his larger motivations in "Infinity?" Would you say he's a wild card in all of this?
I think he's definitely a wild card, which is why I'm not going to say very much about his motivations or what might be going through his mind. He'll continue to be a player on the chessboard of "Infinity" through the remainder of the series.
Then on the final page of this issue, we have the big revelation that Thanos has come to Earth to kill his son. Is this a character we met in "Thanos Rising" or any of the other previous stories in his continuity? Or is this a new previously unrevealed character?
I almost don't want to say too much because it sort of eliminates possibilities, but I might as well be straightforward: what Black Bolt is talking about is a character that we have not seen as of yet-- or maybe we have. [Laughs] We probably haven't, though.
[Laughs] Are you able to talk at all about Thanos' motivation for wanting to kill this son? Is it comparable to the ancient Greek Myths about the Titans where Cronus ate his children so they couldn't harm him later? Or is it more complex than that?
Again, I'd direct people to Jason and Simone's "Thanos Rising" for the best examination of how Thanos has gone about siring and dealing with offspring in the past, and potentially why. Also we'll get into that more deeply in "Infinity" proper as the story moves forward.
Let's wrap up by talking about the art on this issue. Dustin Weaver's pencils are pretty amazing, but the other great thing about them is they feel tonally similar to the work done by the other artists on "Infinity" and its "Avengers" and "New Avengers" tie-ins. How important was it for you to maintain that consistent feel through all those books?
I think the artists we have on each of the books are somewhat different, but the fact that we've been passing references and pages between all of the artists as this has been going on has allowed it to be the same or similar.
Mike Deodato pulled a lot of reference from the work that Dustin, [Weaver] Jerome [Opena], and Leinil [Yu] had done on their issues for "New Avengers" #9, for instance. So much so that there were moments that he illustrated that were based on pages that the other guys had done, but his pages saw print first.
So I think it's very much the fact that there are a lot of scenes and sequences in common from one guy to the next. So if one person sets up an environment, scene, or place the others are able to pick up on that. That helps maintain a certain amount of consistency even though Leinil draws like Leinil, and what he does isn't exactly what Deo does, or what Dustin does, or what Jerome does. But the fact that there's a commonality among the reference as it goes on and it's not all being necessarily designed or set constructed by any one of them means that they all have some kind of hand in the game.
Would you say the most important thing in a story like "Infinity" where you're juggling multiple artists is communication?
I don't know if it's always the most important. Talent is the most important, but certainly on something like this where the main "Infinity" book and "Avengers" and "New Avengers" are so tightly interwoven having that communication and that free flowing not just conversation, but the actual art, moving back and forth definitely helps.
It also really motivates all of those guys because none of them want to be the fifth best artist on the project. [Laughs] So as new pages come in and they get sent around people get motivated to double down and work hard to really out do what the other guys are doing.
Finally, can you leave us with any hints or teases for next week's "Avengers" #19, the next major chapter of "Infinity?"
The aftermath of the Battle of the corridor, and the fracturing of the Galactic Council.
Avengers #19 is on sale September 11.