Previously in Infinity: The Avengers have joined a galactic council, one formed to try and fight the seemingly unstoppable force of the Builders. A battle between the two forces led to the depletion of the council's fleet; this was only made worse when the Builders attacked the planet they had retreated too. With no other option, most of the members of the council surrendered to the Builders.
In a risky move, Captain America has the remaining council fleet attack the Builders once more. However, this is a distraction allowing a team of Avengers to infiltrate and take control of the Builders' World Killer ships. With the council having the upper hand, the majority of the surviving Builders' fleet retreats leaving Ex Nihila behind. Is the war finally turning against the Builders?
A flashback sequence reminds us that the ringworld where the council's forces had retreated to was destroyed and how the fractured council managed to fight back by hijacking the Builders' World Killers and free their captured colleagues in the process (this happened in Avengers (Vol. 5) #19 and Infinity #3 although the rescue of the Avengers is lengthened a little here). As the Avengers are about to leave, Ex Nihila appears but then leaves. Before she left she spoke telepathically to Abyss to tell her to come and find “us”. This flashback appears to be narrated by a black version of Ex Nihilo. The last time we saw a “Black” Gardener was in Infinity #2 and that one destroyed a planet in a suicide attack, so this probably isn't a good thing.
The council meet to discuss what they do next; they may have won one battle but they are still severely outnumbered and overpowered. The Skrulls and the Brood want to attack again, as does Annihilus – though he admits he would not be able to control the Annihilation wave. Captain America suggests they talk to the Builders. Whilst he may not agree with Cap, the Shi'ar Emperor agrees as the Captain's strategies have worked so far.
Elsewhere, Abyss and Ex Nihilo are searching for Ex Nihila. They find her along with the remaining Gardeners who are all amazed to see an Abyss. Many millennia ago the other Abyssi died out. This was because the Builders repurposed the Gardeners; they were forbidden to harvest worlds and were instead used to destroy them. The role of the Abyssi was to judge the work of a Gardener and destroy the weak, but if Gardeners were no longer creating life then there was no need for the Abyssi. This angers Ex Nihilo, who turns black in the process and he appears to spark the Gardeners into a rebellion.
On the Builder controlled Kree Capital World of Hala, the Builders are regrouping and the Supreme Intelligence's statistics still point towards an overall victory for the Builders. A message from Gladiator arrives requesting parley and the Builder agrees. However, Cap A thinks there is now only one thing the council can do – Surrender.
When it comes to “events” and their tie-in issues, there are two things I want: 1) If something significant happens in an issue that is not part of the series I am buying, I would like a reminder or at the very least a pointer to the issue in which “stuff happened” – This is because I might buy Avengers but not Infinity or New Avengers but would like the comic I do buy to make sense. 2) For the comic I buy to be representative of that comic and its history regardless of what event it is tie into – This is because I buy Avengers for the Avengers, I therefore expect to see them in their own comic and not act as bit part players. After all, what's the point of specifically tying an event to a comic if you are not going to use that comic and its characters respectfully. I know we're “meant” to buy all the comics in an event, at least that's what Marvel wants, but I'm not made of money so I can't always do that. So, given my criteria let's see how this issue did, shall we?
We get to see a recap of the Avengers being rescued from the Builders. This is good, I may not have seen this in Infinity #3 and addresses my first point. We even get to see a little bit more of the rescue that wasn't seen in Infinity #3, which is good as it give the Avengers a little more time in their own comic, addressing my second point. In fact there are only 5 pages in this issue where an Avenger doesn't appear and these pages progress the continuing story along nicely, so it's fine (much better than Avengers (Vol. 5) #18).
Indeed, the story (within Avengers and the Infinity event itself) is progressing nicely and I don't feel that I'm missing out by not picking up the New Avengers tie-ins. Whilst I appreciate there is another story going on in parallel, involving Thanos attacking the Earth (specifically the Inhumans) whilst searching for his son, that is not impacting on what is going on in Avengers. Credit to Hickman for this, and it is how he has written his run on Avengers and New Avengers to date; stories that are linked but not needed for the other to work.
Story-wise, we have the introduction of another faction this issue with the neglected Gardeners now wanting to rebel against their Builder masters, inspired by Ex Nihilo and Abyss. I'm interested to see if Nightmask, Starbrand and Captain Universe fit into this (as hinted last issue). It's also going to be interesting to see if Cap A really means it when he says they now have to surrender. He's right, they may have won a significant battle but they are still fractured, outnumbered and overpowered. Now they have the Builders' attention it may be the right time to surrender, I just don't know if he means it!
Finally the art, once again its great. Marvellous use of colours and tone. Bright battles intermixed with dark and brooding plotting scenes. The only thing I am not too keen on are the title page splashes introducing the next section of the story. I think they're a bit over the top and a banner at the header of a page would do the job just as well.
A good story that progresses the overall plot and fills in gaps for those of us not reading ever issue associated with the event. Only a couple of frames feature a "Spider" character with no dialogue though so I won't give it full marks on this a Spider-fan site.