Considering that Marvel's latest big "event" story, "Infinity," is spun directly out of the pages of "Avengers" I'd have expected the two books to form a tightly woven, cohesive epic. With a special flowchart in the back of each "Infinity" comic showing exactly what order to read the issues ("Avengers" #18 and "New Avengers" #9 fall in-between "Infinity" #1 and 2), it's a reasonable assumption. But now that it's out and on stands, reading "Avengers" #18 is a surprisingly distant and slightly cold comic. Not only does it feel like a bit of a throw-away, but there's only so exciting Jonathan Hickman and Leinil Francis Yu can make a combination of chatting and then a big spaceship battle.
First, the good news: "Avengers" #18 looks great. Yu, Gerry Alanguilan and Sunny Gho have created a lot of beautiful comics pages. I love the craggy faces of the Skrulls and the textured ridges and such that are all over the place. Yu clearly has fun drawing all of the portraits of the characters who are gathered together for a strategy session; fortunately, he gets to spice it up on occasion with alien faces, and if nothing else I now want to see Yu draw an all-new Brood saga when this is over. The layouts are very standard, but certainly easy to follow; this is designed to be as non-complex as possible.
The bad news is that the story itself is a little dull. There's a lot of talking going on, something that I'm familiar with in Hickman's other comics, but this seems unusually slow-paced with the gathering of troops and entire races. If this had led to an exciting showdown, it might have been easily forgiven, but the big battle this issue involves a lot of spaceships shooting at one another. That's not only not exciting, it's downright boring. With a few exceptions, these are characters strapped into seats and giving each other exciting updates like, "Heavy fire, Captain." These pages are also the least exciting on a visual level, with a barrage of ships and colors making the occasional panel a bit of a jumble at first. I'm willing to accept that as a deliberate "this is chaotic" moment, but it's still just not that interesting.
"Avengers" #18 survives on the art, but as the first main tie-in to "Infinity" it's a bit of a disappointment. Hopefully future installments are going to pick up the pace and turn out something a bit more exciting, because otherwise I don't see any real need to buy "Avengers" for the next few months. Regular "Avengers" readers deserve something more entertaining than this.