Marvel's Infinity Wars #4 review: A whole new universe of possibilities and missed opportunities
At the end of Infinity Wars #3, Gamora had won. The Infinity Gems allowed her to wield infinite cosmic power which she then used to halve the number of souls in the universe (which appears to be on the verge of becoming the family business).
But unlike her father, rather than randomly killing half of all living things, she instead randomly merged pairs of living souls together while simultaneously banishing them to a new universe within the Soul Gem. It’s within this new and improved Soul World that issue #4 kicks off.
When we last saw Loki, he seemed surprisingly upbeat for a man who had just been condemned to a lifetime in a pocket universe where a giant tentacle monster was determined to feast on his (and everyone else’s) soul. As expected, the reason for this chipper attitude is that Loki, ever the schemer, has a plan. Now all he needs are a few allies.
Most of this issue follows Odin’s adoptive son as he puts together a team of heroes (and others) to get his new scheme rolling and take the fight to Gamora. I won’t get into that scheme here, but you can read all about it in the spoilers section. Suffice it to say that it’s actually a pretty good plan (at least the parts of it which he’s divulged so far).
The new team features some big names, but it’s an eclectic group and it’s hard to envision them working effectively together. That being the case, I don’t know how this new team can be expected to fare any better against Gamora than the Infinity Watch and the Avengers did. Maybe I’ll be surprised.
Infinity Warps, we hardly knew ye
Pacing has been an issue for Infinity Wars and after two issues that were a little light plot progression, it’s good that we finally get some momentum on the story as we move into the third and, presumably, the final act of this story arc. However, on a more unfortunate note, it looks like time’s already up for the short-lived ‘Infinity Warps’. I know the changes were never meant to be permanent, but the speed with which the new mashup characters were introduced only to have a large chunk of them quickly taken out of play was baffling.
Not everyone was happy with the new character mash-ups, but I didn’t mind them. They’re not meant to be taken seriously (If you do, you’ll probably hate them… and most comics in general really) and they provided a few opportunities for the writers to have some fun with outlandish characters and situations.
Maybe Marvel wouldn’t mind keeping a few of the low tier heroes in their current state even after the events of the Infinity Wars arc end. This could be especially beneficial for Marvel’s current roster of villains as it provides an opportunity to remix some of the more boring and one-note bad guys into more interesting and unpredictable opposition.
The artwork and colours provided by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin are both as good as they have ever been and remain one of the high points of the series, even if you don’t always agree with Deodato’s multi-panel approach to artwork or if, like me, you have a problem with how he draws Loki’s face.
Heroes need Villains
I want to like Infinity Wars, and parts of it are great, but there are important elements of a good story that are still missing and time is running out. Gamora’s motivation is thin and her behaviour is out of character. Is she a villain now? Is she being manipulated? Maybe, but by whom? …and why? It’s probably not Devondra. As far as we know, she/it is just a monster driven by primal hunger, not a scheming Villain.
There’s also a panel in this issue which could imply that Gamora is still possibly the hero of this story after all. But as of now, that’s still just speculation (More on that in the spoilers section).
As Gerry Duggan takes us into the penultimate issue of the series, he’s finally getting around to delivering on the story that was promised to us back when it debuted in August. But this train is quickly running out of track and there’s an increasing possibility that there won’t be enough time to both close out the narrative satisfactorily and also fit in the “Epic” fight that you know is coming.
I know what I’m more interested in. I can only hope that Duggan agrees.
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR INFINITY WARS #4 START FROM HERE
Breakdown of events in Infinity Wars #4
The issue opens with Loki and Diamond Patch (Emma Frost + Wolverine) continuing their conversation from the previous issue. It turns out that Loki is searching for both Adam Warlock, who knows better than anyone else, how to escape from the Soul Gem (since he’s done it before) and the new Infinity Gems that should have come into existence when this new universe was created. The Reality Gem especially, with its new power of multi-dimensional travel, would theoretically give them a way out.
With the help of a time-travelling future version of Diamond Patch who has merged with the Phoenix Force, Loki is able to get Emma and Wolverine split up again and is also given the Power Gem, which Emma holds on to since she, understandably, doesn’t trust Loki. Oddly they also reveal that a future version of Thor is with Diamond Patch-Phoenix but he and Loki apparently don’t have anything at all to say to each other.
Loki then uses Emma’s help to track down Kang the conqueror who is merged with Ms Marvel (Kamala Khan) and Hulk who is merged with Ant-Man (Scott Lang).
This feels like a missed opportunity to have had the Hulk merge fully with Bruce Banner, making him both super intelligent and also… well, a Hulk. I can’t help but wonder what Banner, in full control of the Hulk’s strength, or Hulk with Banner’s intellect and restraint would be like.
And while we’re on the topic, it’s also unfortunate that none of the characters appear to experience any negative effects from the time they spent bound to another soul. Remember, these new characters in Soul World had their own identity and a whole lifetime of memories that, to them, were absolutely real. Given Emma and Logan’s reaction to being split up, they appear to have at least some memory of their formerly combined selves. But if Kang has anything to share about his time as a teenage girl, he’s not letting on. Pity.
Overall it feels like Duggan had nothing interesting to do or say with the new character mash-ups and honestly, it’s hard to see why he and Marvel went through all the effort for what has, so far, amounted to practically nothing. Maybe there’s a big reveal coming, but right now I can’t help but say, why did they bother?
With the most of the team now assembled, they set off to collect their final member, Adam Warlock. Who for some reason, is apparently not merged with anyone else. No one brings it up, so did they just forget or will it get addressed later? I guess we’ll find out. Anyway, Warlock and the rest of the team are able to defeat a very large soul eater, thanks to a bold move from Ant-Man.
But any sense of victory is short-lived since, unlike the other smaller soul eaters they have faced until now which were effortlessly defeated, this one immediately begins to regenerate. Given its resiliency, you may assume that this is Devondra, however, even the previously encountered Soul Eaters were identified by Diamond patch as Devondra itself, rather than underlings or drones serving a hive Queen.
This could mean that Devondra’s true form is still unknown. It could be an entity that can take on multiple forms, perhaps simultaneously, when interacting with the Warp World.
With another fight about to kick off, Emma Frost reachs out to all the heroes in the Warp for support, asking (or perhaps commanding?) them to join their cause.
On a side note, Moon Dragon and Quasar (Phyla-Vell) appear to have accidentally jumped into the Soul Gem universe as they attempted to flee from requiem in an alternate reality.
This appears to be the same alternate reality we saw in issue #1 where Loki wielded both Mjolnir and the Infinity Gems. While they lost to Requiem in their reality, being present in the Soul Gem Universe could give them a chance to pass on vital information and get ‘resurrected’ back into the main Marvel Universe.
Notably, this scene also showed us that Requiem/Gamora is considered ‘Worthy’ of wielding Mjolnir. While there have been a few questionable choices over the years regarding those who could or could not lift the enchanted Uru hammer, it certainly seems to indicate that Gamora could be working towards more than just universal domination and is perhaps neither as misguided or as villainous as other believe her to be.
We finally close out with Flowa and Gamora at the Quarry of Creation. It turns out that once the hunger of the soul eater Devondra is sated, she will spin a new universe into existence and that Gamora, wielding infinite power, will be able to shape and rule that new universe… which so far appears to be the extent of her ambition (or at least as much as she has been willing to disclose).
This raises two important questions. The first is that if Gamora, who already wields ultimate cosmic power, can create a new universe within the Soul Gem, couldn’t she simply reshape the existing universe to her liking? Even more importantly, with the power of the Infinity Gems famous for being limited to the reality within which they exist, why is Gamora so confident that she will be able to wield any power at all over its formation?
If there is an answer, it’s probably connected to the Original Universe that was mentioned back in issue #1 and the fact that similar events are unfolding across multiple realities simultaneously will probably play a large factor in how things play out as well. But at this moment, I’m stumped.
The issue closes with a conversation between Gamora and Thanos, who is asking her to resurrect him, being interrupted by a gathering of the Watchers overhead… and they do not look pleased. Thanos’ ghost then utters the phrase, “Behold infinity’s end”, another call back to issue one when Loki first encountered the witches at the quarry of creation.
I’ve don’t really know much about the Watchers apart from Uatu, but given the entire civilisation’s policy of non-intervention, it’s unclear what their intentions are. It’s true that even the Watchers have been moved to action when the threat is great enough; but does their arrival here mean that they want to help or hinder Gamora? Could they, or a rogue faction of watchers be the hidden hand that has been guiding events? With their technology, reach and wealth of knowledge, they certainly could; the real question is if they would. Maybe we’ll find out in issue #5.
Updated Date: Dec 03, 2018 15:21:40 IST