When DC Comics' "52" ended, I expected that (like so many events from DC and Marvel) we'd see a number of series and mini-series spin off of the year-long series. I was a little surprised to see that after the high sales numbers for "52" that one of the two ongoing series to appear in its wake, "Infinity Inc.", seems to be dropping readers by the handful every week. Curiosity getting the better of me, with the arrival of new artist Pete Woods starting with issue #8, I thought it would be worth looking at the series and seeing what I could find.
It sounds horrible, but after reading just two issues I could almost instantly see what the problem with the book was. Perhaps more importantly, I knew how it was going in entirely the wrong way to try and fix the problem. A friend of mine referred to "Infinity Inc." as a super-powered therapy session, and I think he was right on the money. This is a group of characters who all have some serious issues with themselves and the world around them. The first page of both issues has a line-up of the main characters' faces with their names underneath, and I almost hate to say that I was hoping we'd get their psychological diagnosis under their names.
The problem is, "Infinity Inc." bears virtually no connection to the incarnation of the team as seen in "52". While the team was admittedly disbanded by the end of the series, in that comic we had a group of teenagers and young adults who had all gained superpowers through Lex Luthor's "Everyman Project" that became a celebrity superhero team. Here, it's a group of moody messed up people trying to come to grips with themselves with superheroics feeling almost like an afterthought. Those who jumped in for what they'd seen in "52" would certainly be taken a little aback by this very different comic, and I can see some readers deciding that it wasn't for them.
At the same time, though, #8 and 9 kick off a different era for the book, and not just in terms of a new artist coming on board the book. Now, the characters all have matching costumes and codenames, a new member in the form of Lex Luthor's old bodyguard Mercy, and head out on a mission given by Steel for them to investigate killings in rural Montana. Saying that this feels out of left field is an understatement; it would be like the characters of "Friends" halfway through their second season suddenly joining the Marines and sent on covert missions in the Middle East. I don't have an issue with "Infinity Inc." having the characters become heroes, but this seems like the wrong way to go about it; black and white uniforms with glowing infinity symbols and having Natasha start calling herself "Vaporlock" seems to be almost a betrayal of everything that happened in the book to date. It's more than a little wrongheaded, and I can't help but wonder if these were directives coming down from on-high to make "Infinity Inc." a more traditional superhero comic.
It's too bad, because I think there was some real potential in the earlier, not-good-selling version of the comic. I can see why it wouldn't connect with a large audience; it was very different sort of book, investigating the idea of superheroes from a different angle than we normally get. Seeing Woods' art wasted here is also a bit of a mystery; he's a great artist with clean, slick lines and having him placed on a book that seems doomed for cancellation seems like almost a punishment, or perhaps just stalling until his new project is ready to begin.
Most of all? I feel bad for anyone who read the first seven issues of "Infinity Inc." and enjoyed it. This is most certainly not what they signed up for.