A decade ago the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning wrote a four issue Nova tie-in for Marvel’s cosmic event Annihilation. The limited series was a hit and was promoted to an on-going. It also raised Abnett and Lanning (or DnA to their growing body of fans referred to them) to high enough prominence that they were tasked with writing Annihilation’s sequel: Annihilation: Conquest. When the dust settled on that Event, DnA were the prime movers of Marvel’s cosmic corner and between Nova and their new Guardians of the Galaxy title they took it to new heights. Their influence stretched far beyond comics though, as their Guardians run was used as the basis for 2014’s blockbuster film of the same name. After Guardians and Nova ended, DnA pursued others projects before dissolving their partnership. Abnett returned to cosmic Marvel, however, scripting a couple different titles, the most recent of which, Guardians of Infinity, drew to a close last week.
Abnett’s work for Infinity got off to a bumpy start, as the first issue was bogged down with run-of-the-mill heroes misunderstanding each other conflicts and some atypical flat dialogue. Once the dust settled, however, the series found its groove. The premise was that a space/time anomaly has brought together the original Guardians (of the 31st Century) the contemporary ones from DnA’s period and a new group calling itself the Guardians from the year 1000. Abnett displayed his usual knack for group dynamics along with crafting engaging individual characters (his excellent Wild’s End series is another prime example of this). Along the way he also tossed in a goofy plot twist involving Rocket Raccoon’s mind being implanted inside a villain’s literal brain trust.
This spirit extends to the concluding chapter which is a fun romp. Rocket’s mind was harvested for his tactical genius and Abnett does a great job showing how that decision backfires on Hermetikus in a very Rocketesque manner. Carlo Barberi’s art fits the free-wheeling nature of the story. Altogether it is an enjoyable finale.
One of the catches with Infinity has been that every issue contains a backup tale by a different creative team. The first issue included a superb Thing/Rocket story by Jason Latour and Jim Cheung that overshadowed Abnett’s lead narrative. Unfortunately it was also the highpoint of the b-sides. #8’s “The Ripley” follows this pattern. Written by Jen & Sylva Soska it involves Peter Quill, Kitty Pryde and Rocket Raccoon answering a distress call that of course does not go smoothly. There is some good dialogue, but writers lean on the Ripley running joke a little too heavily. Ramirez’s art is fine without being remarkable.
Guardians of Infinity had its share of good concepts and memorable moments, though it never quite added up to what it could have been. Part of this was the weaker backup tales which did not justify the extra dollar cost. Part of it was that Barberi could not match the talent of artists such as Paul Pelletier and Wesley Craig who contributed to the DnA run. Still it does have a tinge of emotion to it, as it is likely the final curtain on Abnett’s time with these characters for the foreseeable future. He recently signed an exclusive contract with DC which brings to an end what started with a four issue limited series a decade ago. Similar to Jonathan Hickman first writing the Fantastic Four as a Dark Reign limited series or Kieron Gillen setting up his Kid Loki arc in a Siege one-shot, fans never know when a seemingly random Event tie-in may reveal itself to be the seed of something extraordinary.