After absolute power, what’s next?
While there’s a certain level of scope and gravitas to any Marvel story revolving around the Infinity Stones, it’s becoming more and more clear that Infinity Wars isn’t trying to top past cosmic crossovers in terms of spectacle. The more this story unfolds, the more its focus narrows. Fortunately, that seems to be working out in the book’s benefit. Sluggish though the pacing can be, Infinity Wars is venturing into very intriguing territory.
Infinity Wars seems to have taken the right lesson from 1991’s Infinity Gauntlet. Sure, that story was positively huge in scope, with all manner of cosmic heavy-hitters joining the fray and the fate of the universe hanging in the balance. But ultimately, the appeal of that story rests in its examination of Thanos as a flawed, self-defeating character. He lost his grasp on omnipotent power because some part of himself wanted to lose. That approach is clearly informing writer Gerry Duggan’s handling of Gamora. Like her father before her, Gamora has attained absolute power through the Infinity Stones, and she too risks losing control even as her goals lie within her grasp. The fact that Thanos himself remains a lingering presence in the story (whether as a literal ghost or a figment of Gamora’s imagination remains unclear) helps highlight her own emotional struggle.
This issue’s increased emphasis on Loki and Asgardian librarian Flowa doesn’t hurt its appeal, either. Loki is always a fun wild card to have in play, as it’s never fully apparent whether he’s working for the good of the universe or to further his own ends. Most likely, a combination of the two in this case. The cast of characters narrows considerably in this latest chapter. The Infinity Watch members are little more than window dressing at this point, and Duggan’s focus remains fixated on Gamora, Loki and Flowa. This brings a greater sense of focus to the book, if not necessarily the faster storytelling pace Infinity Wars could use as it crosses the midway point. The major plot shift in this issue is promising, but it also raises the question of why it’s taken Infinity Wars four issues (counting the Prime prologue) to set that stage.
As with previous issues, Mike Deodato’s art is marked by significant strengths and weaknesses. Deodato’s art carries plenty of intensity and power. Gamora feels like every bit the imposing villain Thanos once was. There’s a distinctive shift in setting midway through this issue that plays to Deodato’s talent or crafting foreboding, shadowy environments. And while Frank Martin’s colors don’t always mesh well with Deodato’s art when it comes to elements like skin tones, Martin’s colors to a lot to bring energy to pages dominated by cosmic energy.
The main sticking point continues to be Deodato’s stiff figure work and often robotic facial expressions. Loki seems to suffer more than any other character in that regard. There are moments where Duggan’s script calls for subtlety that Deodato’s art can’t channel.