Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver's "Infinity" #3 opens on a note of defeatism and quickly ramps up the stakes for a spectacular show of excellent storytelling and breathtaking artwork. With hundreds of characters to juggle, Hickman, Opena and Weaver navigate the intergalactic politics smoothly, utilizing each personality to their fullest potential in such a limited amount of space. "Infinity" is shaping up to be every inch the action-packed space opera it promises to be in its intensity, epic tone and scope.
The most intriguing aspect of this issue certainly lies with the Builders themselves. With a lot of time spent on their point of view, readers get more insight on their motivation and attitude. Hickman slips in some bigger ideas about history and perspective, instruction and even classical mythology in easy-to-swallow doses through their interactions with their supposed creations. What's more, the condescending nature of their dialogue and their evident hubris sets them up for a delicious fall from grace.
That isn't to say, of course, that the entire issue revolves around the Builder's perspective: Captain America gets a strong showing in the tactical proceedings and the Avengers are crucial to the ensuing battle. Having taken a back seat in the intergalactic counsel so far, Cap finally takes a stand and it's inspiring to see him -- a simple human man with comparatively unimpressive abilities -- step up in front of the other, more experienced leaders. With his quiet leadership and humbling attitude, his role in this issue carries a familiar weight, giving the reader taste of the human's broadening role in this war. The shift of focus from galactic catastrophe to this interspecies collaboration becomes much more compelling once Cap takes the reigns and the issue is better for it.
The change in pace between the Avengers and the Inhumans towards the end of the issue does feel abrupt but the section is strong nonetheless; most importantly, it depicts Black Bolt as a master of his people's fate, working always towards their salvation no matter what the cost. Ultimately, the scene is particularly effective in garnering sympathy for the Inhumans as an underdog. With so much of the plot taking place off Earth, it's refreshing to have a taste of something so refreshingly familiar as a fight for Earth.
Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver create stunning scenes of sincere ingenuity throughout the issue, inventing gorgeous alien worlds and intricate space battles that take more than a moment to take in, with Justin Ponsor's colors bring space to life in wake of the Builders' destruction. Without much ado, Opena and Weaver insert poignant moments quietly into each panel that enhance the emotional impact of the overall issue, from a ratty stuffed animal floating in the wreckage of a destroyed planet to a Skrull warrior pulling Captain America to safety. Their character work stood out especially in portraying an impressive multitude of characters -- human and alien alike -- in their own distinct ways. Additionally, they use their depictions to emphasize important character traits; for instance, Gladiator looms over Cap in several scenes, as if to remind the audience that he is just a man up against an army of veritable gods.
Rife with intrigue, twists and poignant moments, "Infinity" #3 carries this event to its highest point yet. Hickman creates a dark, foreboding atmosphere appropriate to a war that seems impossible to win in his narration and dialogue; Opena and Weaver's inventiveness colors an alien world that is strange enough to wow but subtle enough not to distract from the story. With big ideas and even bigger gusto, "Infinity" will be discussed for years to come.