This might seem odd, even perplexing, but pair these two together. I mean, this isn’t like when I paired “Faith and Fable” with “In Deep”: those two had a character in common and explored the deeper meaning behind that character and her place in the world post a major change to her “home” title. This is a Wonder Man single-issue and a New Warriors single issue… they have literally nothing in common. Well, almost nothing in common: they’re both parts of the Infinity War crossover, and they both feature cameos from everyone’s favorite armored street-hero: Darkhawk.
So yeah, I’m reading this on my way through all the Darkhawk appearances, but I won’t be focusing much on that, because they’re honestly so minute. I can literally sum up his appearance in Wonder Man’s entry Into Infinity right now: he appeared on the splash page, holding back Wonder Man as he tried to tackle Wolverine. That’s it.
No, we’re going to end up focusing, naturally, on what I know about The Infinity War, and the truth is: not much. I mean, I know about the same about as any casual fan does, especially in a post-Avengers movie end-credits world. I know that it’s one of Jim Starlin’s big cosmic crossovers, but it all actually gets jumbled together in my head. Infinity War and Infinity Crusade get mixed up a lot for me, and that is probably to do with how I experienced them: as tie-ins in the main monthly books.
This was something Marvel did — and on some level continues to do, but in a different way — with its big crossovers. See The Infinity War was a big sweeping story that needed two movies…. I mean, ahem, featured just about every Marvel hero at the time. As such, as you might imagine, that left very little chance for each individual character to get their moment in the sun. So the stories of these individual characters, the minor arcs they experienced during the major arc of the Infinity War, were explored in their main books.
Marvel pulled a similar trick during Avengers vs X-Men: instead of featuring big, long battles that would take up their whole book, they would allude to those battles and then move on with the plot development. Anyone who was interested in seeing that big knock-down drag-out fight could do so in the other monthly title, which featured just those fights. It was a cool idea, and one I applauded.
What “Into Infinity” does very well is trust the reader straight into the strange epic that was The Infinity War full-speed. The issue starts with a knock-down drag-out battle between Wonder Man and Wolverine, with Wonder Man displaying what could be — as is — construed as anti-mutant language. Darkhawk, Scarlet Witch, and Captain America all try to hold him back and are barely able to do so. After the fight, Scarlet Witch reminds her teammate that she too, is a mutant, and the daughter of Magneto. Wonder Man quickly back-peddles and tries to salvage the situation, but it’s a difficult and clumsy task.
What’s really interesting about this exchange is: this is Wonder Man’s book. So what’s happening here? Are the writers unaware of the negative stance they are having their hero take? I don’t think so. I think it’s more likely that they’re showing Wonder Man to be a not-totally bright, not-very tolerant hero that happens to be on the side of right. This point-of-view is explored much more in Wonder Man’s post-millennium appearances, such as Dark Reign: The Underside and the Revengers storyline.
Once the battle dies down, the X-Men’s Beast — formally Wonder Man’s teammate on the Avengers — tries to mend fences between the two. Wolverine makes a terse concede that Wonder Man was just sticking up for Iron Man in the fight (which we were not privy to the start of) but it seems insincere. Logan seems to see through something about Wonder Man that his mutant friends Beast and Scarlet Witch do not. When Wolverine reveals that the reason he knew Iron Man was a fake was that he saw him attack both Hawkeye and Spider-Man, Wonder Man again reacts with undue anger, hoisting Logan by the scruff of his shirt and demanding to know where. All the while, Logan has a smug smile on his face, as though he just proved to himself which side of Wonder Man was ‘real’ and which one was ‘false.’
When he, Thor, and Hercules investigate and find Hawkeye and Spider-Man unconscious, one of the evil “Infinity Duplicates” (I’m not sure what they were really called) steps out of the shadows, and it’s Wonder Man’s evil doppleganger, dressed like he has a BDSM fetish. As expected, the two battle it out for the remainder of the issue, until Thor and Herc intervene. Outnumbered, the duplicate flies off to fight another day.
Wonder Man returns to where all the assembled Marvel heroes are with the unconscious Spider-Man and Hawkeye, and the assembled groups prepare the launch their assault against Thanos.
What I’m seeing here when I read this is a reminder that the X-Men and the Avengers have had a long-standing feud, but more than that the reason why, and perhaps not a reason Marvel has ever intended. The X-Men have always been stand-ins for the minority in the Marvel Universe: their way of addressing issues involving Antisemitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia all at once without often having to actually use those specific examples: the X-Men are each of those issues and more, they can be whatever Marvel wishes them to be. They are, quite literally, the uncanny: the other.
The Avengers on the other hand are a political group: they have been associated with the US government and the UN at various points in their history, and are often treated like a stage of disaster relief in North America. Police – SWAT – National Guard – Avengers.
So if the X-Men represent a grouping of minorities and the Avengers represent government law, then what we’re watching when we watch them fight is the fight between well-meaning protestors and rights-speakers and well-meaning law-enforcement agencies. It very much explains why the two groups have had such a troubled past.
The second part of this review, “Dark Sides” is taken from New Warriors # 27. I’ve slowly been becoming ingratiated to the New Warriors through my run-down of the Darkhawk appearances, but also because they were very much everywhere during the ’90s and were a major focal-point during the super-hero Civil War. So far I’ve found their issues, like The Breeze of an Underwater Wind to be thoroughly enjoyable, and have really been scratching my head as to what happened to this book.
This issue starts with Speedball on his way back from picking up some pizzas, stumbling across his teammate Rage in the middle of a battle. He accidentally picks the wrong side in the fight due to Rage’s recent costume change though, and the evil doppelganger gets away. As the two split-up again, they joke that Speedball should keep an eye out for “his evil twin.”
We cut then to Four Freedoms Plaza, where the New Warriors (with Darkhawk grouped with them) feel less-than-important in the company of two groups and Avengers, the X-Men, X-Force, and X-Factor. All but Nova that is, who brags that he was picked as a part of the team to go into space and openly mocks Firestar, Darkhawk, and Namorita for not being chosen. Given that Darkhawk would later become a “cosmic level” hero, it is odd that he wasn’t chosen, but the heroes and he himself didn’t know that at this point (nor, the writers. Hindsight is 20/20). He does get actual lines here though, and is clearly included in these jibes because Nova considers him to be a part of the New Warriors.
Meanwhile, Speedball is attacked by police (led by his father!) as he is blamed for the actions of his own “Evil Twin,” just as Rage suspected. He recognizes a pattern in the events, and that his doppelganger will next be heading after his own mother, and heads off to protect her. He indeed finds his mother about to be assaulted by “BlackBall,” a demonic version of himself.
Despite this clearly being a side-story, there is a lot of development to the main Infinity War story going on here: Speedball defeats BlackBall by becoming so mad at the vaguely-sexual threats he’s making towards his mother that he gives into his rage and “becomes the dark side” for an instant, making BlackBall cease to exist… while Rage confronts his Evil Twin, and literally absorbs it, taking it into himself and becoming a part of it. It reveals here what the main Infinity War title had only hinted at so far: that this plot was less about defeating the heroes a it was about corrupting and replacing them.
Both these issues are good and expand the main narrative of The Infinity War in ways that weren’t totally possible within the main arc of the book, and as such deserve attention.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
“… It reveals here what the main Infinity War title had only hinted at so far: that this plot was less about defeating the heroes a it was about corrupting and replacing them.”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“The issue starts with a knock-down drag-out battle between Wonder Man and Wolverine, with Wonder Man displaying what could be — as is — construed as anti-mutant language.”