Matt Kindt and Steve Sanders "Infinity: The Hunt" #1 starts with a fun and promising concept that is also lovingly executed, right down to the "campus map." Unfortunately, the concept of a "Contest of Champions" is just a ruse for another big battle, featuring, the new, "new" and old characters to whom readers have just been painstakingly introduced.
"Infinity: The Hunt" #1 is a very odd comic. The issue is essentially an elaborate a set up to a "Contest of Champions" -- a contest between a bunch of "special schools" such as the Jean Grey School, Future Foundation, and Avengers Academy -- a mini Olympics for the super powered youth of today, if you will. However, the entire idea is just a subterfuge to get these characters in the same place (although some are introduced via satellite) so that they can band together to fight whatever new bad thing has "destroyed" Atlantis.
Unfortunately, the initial concept seems far more fun (maybe because there's an awesome map) than what will surely be yet another battle for the fate of the world. Olympic-esque concepts always have potential, as seeing the best athletes compete on a big stage is naturally compelling, and it would have been cool to see this idea (similar to but different than the disappointing "Avengers Arena") get another chance to get it right. It would be a nice exposure to new characters in a natural but different environment than what's typically seen in comics. It's just honestly hard not to be disappointed not to get that chance. However, it does explain some of the real problems in the book -- most notably, heavy-handed and laughable interior dialogue for each of the characters. The thoughts are far too broad and simple, even for new character introductions, and it gives old and new characters alike a shallow sheen that's almost untenable. (One new character -- called Shri with phantom limbs as a power -- thinks to herself: "It is my destiny to be selected for this team. I can feel it. Much like my phantom limbs...I feel a sense of...what is to come...")
It's especially unfortunate that the writing for these young heroes feels so one-dimensional and rote, because it's a really wonderful selection of heroes when it comes to diversity and I'd love to see some new characters of color gain some traction and popularity. In reality, it's hard to root for any of them as initially presented -- including the characters we already know.
Also disappointing is the implication that most of those newly introduced diverse characters may not take part in future issues. In the final pages, naturally, only the characters that were physically on campus are ready to charge into battle. Maybe the others will join, but at this point, it's only the already established characters.
Sanders' art is really clean and pretty throughout, and given moments to shine -- like the aforementioned campus map, and a gorgeous double page spread reveal of Atlantis -- he knocks it out of the park. Unfortunately, the story doesn't give him much room to shine, except when it comes to new character design (assuming he did them), as there's a lot of standing around, sitting around and even some dreaded floating heads panels. The initial action scene before the Atlantis reveal is also mishandled. It took me three reads of the scene before I stopped trying to figure out exactly what I was seeing and just moved on to knowing that I understood the implications.
In the final analysis, I found myself wishing that Marvel was letting Kindt and Sanders do a legitimate "Contest of Champions" book. That's a book I would certainly commit to buying at least a few issues. But based on the first issue there's nothing new or special in "Infinity: The Hunt" #1, and the quality isn't high enough overall to make it a must-read.