Comic books can be intimidating. There are a lot of people out there who want to get into reading comics but are overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there. Sure, you liked THE AVENGERS film, but when you decided to check out the comic shop you found 9 comics with AVENGERS in the title. The same goes for anything having to do with Batman, Superman, the X-Men, and Wolverine. It’s terribly confusing and there’s no quick way to tell you how to figure out what’s what. If you’re an old pro at comics, jump on down to the PREVIEW section to get going. If not, hang around and I’ll give the new kids a few of the finer points in understanding comics.
That being said, if you enjoyed AVENGERS and are looking for some good, clean super hero fun on an absolutely epic scale, INFINITY is a good place to start. First, a couple of points to understand what INFINITY is. INFINITY is what is called an “event” comic. Most comics run in arcs. That means that a full story will take place in somewhere between 3 and 5 issues. If you haven’t read the first 600 issues of BATMAN, you can just jump in at the beginning of an arc without missing a beat. Usually the arcs have names and are numbered in the issue to help you out.
Other times you’ll get a “crossover” where a story will wind its way between a few different comics (something I’ve always hated as it seems a cheap ploy to get customers to buy a comic that isn’t as popular). For example, a story might take place between the BATMAN comic line and the ROBIN comic line. You buy both comics each month for a few months and you get the whole story. Personally, I’m not a fan of this because typically you’ll have different writers for the different comics and sometimes there’s a noticeable gap in the abilities of the two.
The last type is the “Event”. The event comic is usually some massive, world-shattering, universe-shaking happening that is so big it takes place across a number of comics and may even have its own series to tell the main story. INFINITY is an event of the biggest kind. It is what is considered a “cosmic” event. See, when a lot of people think of superheroes, they think of them in terms of an individual superhero fighting a bad guy who wants to blow up a building or steal some weapons, or maybe if they’re real ambitious they want to take over the world. We’re used to seeing Batman facing off against the Joker to stop him from poisoning Gotham’s water or Superman fighting general Zod to save Metropolis. Iron Man fights a few terrorists or a genius madman with some cool toys. But that is only one small taste of what the superhero world is about. There is the cosmic side that THE AVENGERS movie gave us a brief glimpse of. It’s not often that we see superheroes in movies banding together to fight off a full-on alien invasion. In both the DC and Marvel Comics universes, there exist any number of galactic empires spread out across the Universe. Many are fighting with one another, vying for supremacy, and are often comprised of super beings powerful enough to wipe out entire planets with a single wave of the hand. That, for my money, is where comic books shine. Sure, I enjoy reading about Batman beating up Penguin’s thugs, but watching him fly into space in a bat ship alongside Superman, Wonder Woman, and Martian Manhunter to battle some Cthulhu-like, interdimensional being is WAY cooler.
INFINITY is presented as a standalone series. That means there is an actual comic called INFINITY, of which there will be 6 issues, that you can buy and get the gist of the story. There will be several tie-ins, meaning comics that take place during the same time, but aren’t crucial to enjoying the primary story. But INFINITY stems from two other series that are currently running that I highly recommend you read before jumping in to INFINITY (and continue to read as they run concurrently with INFINITY). They are:
Yeah, I know. There are a ton of comics called THE AVENGERS that go back decades. You are not required to read 60 years worth of comics to catch up. This AVENGERS series started in 2012 and is part of the MARVEL NOW! imprint, a concept where Marvel relaunched a lot of their different comic lines to let those new to comics have a nice jumping on point. AVENGERS, as well as INFINITY, is written by Jonathan Hickman, one of the finest writers working in comics today. He does Sci-Fi and he does epic. That’s about all you need to know.
It’s important to note that the title “Avengers” is kind of a catch all for a team of Marvel superheroes put together to defend the earth. That means that members rotate through and will change from time to time. This AVENGERS does have some familiar faces for casual fans. Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Captain America are all present and accounted for, as well as other popular characters like Wolverine and Spiderman. The basic story is that some super beings on the Mars have launched “Origin Bombs” at the earth, bombs that will start an evolutionary process that will completely wipe out all of humanity. The Avengers travel to Mars only to get their butts handed to them in a very one-sided battle. Cap manages to escape and goes recruiting to drastically expand the team. While dealing with the threat on Mars, word of an ancient alien race known as The Builders reaches earth. While shrouded in mystery, it is understood that they are big, bad, and are looking to wipe out the entire planet.
There are 17 issues of THE AVENGERS that lead up to INFINITY. Issue 18 is the first one that runs side-by-side with the INFINITY series.
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