If you're just deciding to jump onto Infinity at the final issue and absolutely need some background, here you go...
Thanos' fleets began to attack Wakanda in search of the Infinity Gems. Black Panther and the Illuminati went to defend Necropolis, where Thanos has access to the bombs they had built. In the dead city, Supergiant triggered the bombs while Thanos captured his son in a energy field, preparing to kill him. Across the galaxy, Captain America prepared his troops to take back Earth.
Recapping the events of Guardians of the Galaxy #8-9 and Avengers (Vol. 5) #23, the Guardians and Avengers managed to regain the Peak from Thanos’ fleet of pirates. (Ronan the Accuser smashed Black Dwarf’s head with Annihilus, Gladiator and Super Skrull’s assistance!)
Soon, the Avengers rocket to Earth in a jet and land in the rural desert. Cap tells the team that they were lucky to get down in one piece and they are about a hundred miles from the target. But they’ve made it. He views the coordinates Iron Man gave him and finds that Thanos is actually fifty-two miles away. (Cap’s bad at estimating.) Hyperion identifies five life forms in an excavated buildout near Thanos’ location. Cap orders Hulk to “knock on the front door” and “soften ‘em up.” Thor reminds Hulk to “leave some for the rest of us” and the green giant grunts and leaves.
Above Earth, Cannonball and Smasher watch as Thanos’ troops appear to be retreating. Smasher decides that they’re “gaming a retreat—disguising the fact that they’re lining up for a last go.” She figures that they will fight to the bitter end. The heroes decide to go beat some sense into them.
In Necropolis, the Illuminati have defeated Thanos’ resident pirates, figuring that they fought like they were being controlled. Iron Man opens up the entrance to the room the bombs are kept in, hoping they’re not too late. Inside, Supergiant has Black Bolt hooked up to some machine. At her order, Black Bolt speaks and the blast devastates the Illuminati. Doctor Strange informs Supergiant that they have no idea what power they are controlling and prepares a spell to show them the abyss!
In Orollan, Corvus Glaive informs Thanos that they have lost contact with the Peak and the heroes have “significant support” from other Earths. The Mad Titan decides it’s time to kill his son and orders the Maw to release him. But the command is prevented from being executed when the Hulk ambushes Thanos. Our villain punches Hulk into the mountain, shaking the city. Agitated, Thanos orders Glaive and Proxima Midnight to kill the beast and make him suffer.
The Black Order’s objective cannot be carried out, though, because their target launches himself at them. Midnight throws her spear at Hulk which is “a life-giving new star, and also an all-consuming supernova.” A black virus seems to terminate the Hulk’s attacks while Glaive pierces his chin with his spear. Glaive mocks Hulk, ranting, “I’ll hang your head on a mantel above a roaring fire…” Luckily, Captain America’s shield halts the fiend from any more unbearable fuming. The Avengers jump from the sky and confront Thanos’ forces.
In Necropolis, Doc Strange begins to cast his spell when Black Bolt is ordered by Supergiant to scream at him. Luckily, Reed Richards captures the villain and Black Bolt with his elongated body. Black Panther quickly presses a trigger and the ground explodes below them. Whatever their plan was, it didn’t work. Supergiant towers over Black Panther, who tries to convince her not to detonate the bomb because she would be killed. Supergiant explains how Thanos found her in an orphanage and recruited her to help him kill all his children. Her reward for doing so is being slaughtered and she anticipates it.
In Orollan, the Ebony Maw explains to Thane that the Avengers are the only hope for his salvation but they will be killed. Proxima Midnight manages to transform Hulk into Bruce Banner and smacks him. As Thanos and his Black Order defeat the Avengers, Maw explains that “all hope is fleeing in the face of Thanos.”
Meanwhile in Necropolis, Supergiant charges the bombs and readies to detonate Earth. To her dismay, Maximus the Mad has the trigger and says, “Now normally, you’re just my kind of crazy…but there are plans underway that I am invested in.” He agrees to give it to her as long as he gets to look like the “the smartest guy in the room.” When Supergiant triggers the bomb, Maximus informs her that she forgot about the most dangerous thing in the room. Lockjaw teleports Supergiant and the bombs to the pocket universe Maximus created, efficiently annihilating her.
At the Peak, Black Widow, Manifold, and Shang Chi watch as Starbrand destroys all the pirate ships. The remaining enemies retreat hastily and Spider-Woman asks Black Widow if she has heard from the Avengers on Earth. Widow calls Iron Man and he orders for her to send reinforcements to Wakanda and New York. Then, the Illuminati leave the Dead City.
In Orollan, Thane tells the Maw that there is always a chance, but he disagrees. In the battle, Corvus Glaive poisons Hyperion, asking, “Does it feel like the end?” Proxima Midnight hits Captain America in the side with her spear. Luckily, Cap manages to deflect two other shots with his shield. They ricochet and hit Glaive and Hyperion asks, “Does it feel like the end?” Corvus sneers that he cannot threaten him with what he wants. Hyperion kills him with his optic blasts, telling him to call it a gift.
Proxima Midnight is saddened by Glaive’s death and rushes to grab his spear. Captain Marvel blasts her, which motivates Thanos to punch her into a building. Maw explains to Thane that there is no unwritten universal rule that the good guys always win. “In the end, all that remains are the whispered prayers of the condemned. And the hope that there is a god up there listening,” the snake-like creature slithers. Apparently, there is a god listening because Thanos is hit twice with massive bolts of lightning. The third bolt is accompanied with Thor, who hits the Mad Titan with his hammer. Thor is about to strike Thanos again when he grabs his hammer and punches him to the ground.
Maw releases Thane from his confinement and says, “So as you witness Thanos unable to be beaten by mortal or immortal, I release you… To see it you’re evolved.” Maw, whispering into Thane’s ear, forces him to confirm he’s the son of Thanos and his hand suddenly flashes. Thane, out of Maw’s control, queries what he has done. Maw exclaims that he is greater than his father and “no single world can contain what he will become.
The whole world becomes a flash of white until Iron Man wakes Captain America. He confirms that Earth is still intact and explains that Thanos’ son defeated him. Iron Man clarifies that Thane’s left hand is death and his right is living death.
Thanos and Proxima Midnight are trapped in a cube of amber.
In the Himalayas, Black Bolt and Maximus the Mad have a one-sided conversation about how the Inhumans believe that they are dead. Maximus verifies that they’re not going back to them and they place the codex exactly where it was before to be found by “whoever would take up the mantle.” Max asks Black Bolt why he did such trickery and Black Bolt hushes him. He finds that he was always planning on scattering the seeds of the Inhumans whether Thanos was a factor or not. He didn’t bring the last Inhuman age, but the dawn of a new one.
So, in the aftermath of the events, the Avengers rebuild the damaged New York City, the Ex Nihili on Whaan Prime rededicate themselves to life and creation, Gladiator of the Shi’ar expands the Imperial Guard, the Kree Supreme Intelligence accept the return of the Accusers, Kl’rt is crowned as the new Skrull emperor, the Annihilus swarm inhabits a planet calling it Annihilation World, and Thane is trained by the Ebony Maw to become something his father could never dream of.
Later, the Illuminati discuss how the Avengers trusted Tony Stark to take care of Thanos. Beast is appalled but the Black Panther explains that they see the world as they want it to be. Richards explains that they exist to build hope while the Illuminati build the unthinkable. As they stare at Thanos trapped in amber, Tony Stark says, “And though it may cost us our very souls…we gather the proper tools necessary…and we build. Preparing for the unthinkable.”
Infinity #6 offers an enthralling, epic conclusion to not only this event but Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers First Phase. The comic book is fittingly split into two different parts of the story: Illuminati vs. Supergiant and Avengers vs. Thanos. The story, instead of tying up the many plotlines Hickman has been building up throughout the series, begins to unravel them in preparation for bigger things to come. It’s great to see the Marvel Universe influenced on a more cosmic level, seemingly setting up things for a second phase for Avengers of a more galactic scope.
The tone of the story is austere; different from anything I’ve really ever read. Hickman really defies the typical story structure that has been set for epic conclusions by writers like Brian Michael Bendis. He builds up an obvious conclusion with the Ebony Maw ranting about how there is no hope to Thane. Therefore, everybody expects that Thane will ultimately beat Thanos and defy everything Maw said…but that doesn’t happen. Maw forces Thane to unwillingly kill his father (living death my butt) and, while good triumphed over bad in retrospective, it really failed because Thane’s personal battle turned for the ultimate evil. I suspect he will come back to play a major role in Hickman’s upcoming Avengers stories.
Of course, my praise for this issue is followed by frustrations. Firstly, I’m weary of how Hickman seems to wrap up every single major Avenger battle with a powerful character snapping their fingers and the bad guys dying. It’s happened four times during this event (twice in this issue) and just looks lazy. Why have battles at all when a single hero can just show up and kill the villain in a second? Second, I’m unsatisfied with fact that editors had to fit in the whole Inhumanity plotline into this event. It obviously wasn’t in Hickman’s original outline for the event and it feels like Marvel’s blowing this whole Inhumanity thing out of proportion. Lastly, this issue was delayed for so long that I almost forgot about it.
Lastly, Cheung’s art is flawless. It always is. And you’d better appreciate it because this is the second and final book Cheung’s drawing this year. Yeah…I guess I’ll always be bitter over the fact that he abuses him superstar artist status quo and earns a living from only drawing 40-60 pages a year. You know what really sucks? They even had to bring in Dustin Weaver as a fill-in artist for some of the pages. Cheung can’t even finish the second book Marvel assigns him with for the year. Geez!
This issue offers an interesting conclusion for Hickman's event. I have a few problems which mark it down, though.