Previously in Infinity: Captain Universe got revived by the Gardeners channelling their powers through Abyss. She then took out all of the Builders. Yes all of them. Before the last one died though, it set all remaining Alephs to destroy everything. However, these all got taken out during Infinity #5. Yes all of them.
Also whilst the Avengers were away dealing with the Builders, Thanos has taken the opportunity to invade the Earth with the intent of killing his Inhuman son, who happens to live there, bringing with him his Cull Obsidian (i.e. team of bad guys). During this invasion, Wakanda put up quite the defence and this proved too much for Black Dwarf, one of the Obsidian. Thanos dismissed him from his order as punishment for his failure to take Wakanda.
For those keeping score, this issue is set after Infinity #5.
On the Shi'ar battleship Lilandra, an intimate moment between Cannonball and Smasher is interrupted by a “betrayed” Sunspot. Bobby is just messing with them though and has come to fetch them to the bridge as “it's time”.
On Titan, on of the moons of Saturn, two of Thanos's cronies are shooting lizards to stave off the boredom guard duty. However, they really should have paid more attention as Falcon, Hyperion and some of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard take them by surprise just before the galactic fleet arrive.
On the Peak, the headquarters of the Sentient World Observation and Response Department, the disgraced Black Dwarf has had a new mace made and uses it on one of his minions that foolishly reminds him of his recent shortcomings. He is ready for the galactic fleet's arrival. Fortunately, Captain America is ready for Black Dwarf's readiness! After being brought up to speed on Thanos's activities on Earth by Iron Man, Cap A outlines his plan to the council. Avengers like Spider-Woman and Bruce Banner are familiar with the Peak and so know how to deal with it. A precision strike against the Peak, whilst the fleet deal with Thanos's blockade.
Later, as the fleet have passed Mars on their way to Earth, Captain Marvel is talking to Manifold with Cap A; Eden is starting to lack a little faith. He knows the fleet are all broken and beaten whilst Thanos's blockade are fresh and rested. He can't believe what they have already survived and now they have to do it again but with the lives of their families and friends on the line. Carol tells him not to over think it, “Just make sure you hit the other guy before he hits you”. Steve agrees; he's not a believer of heroic quests, just life and living it. Once he knows Manifold is okay and is ready to do his job, Cap A leaves with Cap M. Thor then approaches Eden. Whilst he acknowledges Steve and Carol as great warriors and his friends, he thinks they are wrong. What they are about to do, is a job they were born to do. Their entire life had led to this day and it's time to defeat Thanos.
I liked the way they dealt with Smasher and Cannonball getting together and how Sunspot thought he might have been the subject of her flirting. Even though he said he was messing, I think Bobby thought he had a chance but is equally happy for his two friends. Hickman has teased the relationship for a while and this pay off suits how their story has been told to date. I'm still not sure if a Cap A/Cap M hook up is being hinted at, they are spending a lot of time together but they may just be the Avengers with the most military experience strategising together.
I also liked the two pep talks that Manifold received before the big battle. Eden's nerves are more than understandable and the gruff but caring way Steve and Carol dealt with them was fitting to the characters, as was Thor's more noble, destiny driven speech.
Those things said, the issue was pretty much build up for the battle that awaits and not much really happens to progress the main plot. Fortunately (and for a change) it didn't come across as a typical “filler” issue to me, mainly due to the Manifold scenes and the way the Sunspot/Cannonball/Smasher story paid off. They injected a little bit of humanity into the story, made it more real. These weren't just scenes for the sake of filling up the comic, they were from threads that had been introduced previously and addressed here.
The art was once again great. Dark close ups of Black Dwarf, sweet scenes between Cannonball and Smasher. Although I was a bit confused when Falcon took his space suit helmet off on Titan. Titan has a breathable atmosphere now?
No real plot advancement for the main storyline, which is a shame. As I have said before, why have an event so big when you apparently don't have enough story to tell? However the “human” side stories made up for this a bit so I'm giving it an above average score.
As a footnote I want to say a bit on what I thought about the previous few issues in the Infinity event. First off, when I reviewed Avengers (Vol. 5) #21 I wasn't sure if Captain Universe had destroyed all the Builders or just the ones on that ship – turns out it was all of them. This for me was a little disappointing with shades of “I told you so!” For ages, I have said how I don't like the Captain Universe character, that I think s/he is too powerful and this proved it. On one page she destroyed the entire race of Builders. The Builders who have pretty much been the bad guys for the entire run so far of this iteration of Avengers. A couple of panels and whoosh, all gone. Entirely feasible with Cap U's power set but all too brief and easy.
Fortunately they set up the cliff hanger that before they died the Builders set all the Alephs to destroy everything – one last big threat. However, this too got “fixed” within one page of Infinity #5 with the Hulk smashing the last one. This too I thought was a little anticlimactic. Once again a threat that had been building up for 20 ish issues all gone in a page. Alephs have been shown as easier to kill then Builders, so it wasn't the ease of their demise that annoyed me; more the fact that the cliff hanger from the previous issue of Avengers was so promptly dealt with. I appreciate that Thanos was always going to be the star of the Infinity event (though I'm now not sure why it is called Infinity as the Gems haven't really featured at all) but it just seemed a lot of effort to set up all of the Builders and then get rid of them so quickly. All those stories about the Origin bombs, them hatching and sending a signal to summon the Builders to Earth, only for the Builders to be stopped before they get there but then Thanos invades instead! Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed the Infinity event. I just think its a shame that the villains of Avengers, a threat so great the team left the Earth, have been dealt with so quickly within the event and all just to set up Thanos.
Finally, by my count there is still one Origin bomb pod that has yet to hatch (the one the Hand have in Japan) – will it be forgotten about or will the Builders' legacy live on?