INFINITY MAN AND THE FOREVER PEOPLE #2 by Keith Giffen, Dan Didio, Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna is The Hobbit without a Hobbit. Here we’ve got this big ensemble cast, about as well developed as the dwarves in The Hobbit, and no standout characters, no Bilbo or Gandalf for us to focus on.
Just as last month, most of the character development for this issue takes place in the narration. There simply isn’t a whole lot going on in the story that lets us know who these people are. They get into fights and they sass each other and it would all be pretty amusing if these guys were the supporting cast to a central figure or figures that really stood out, but thus far the book just isn’t giving us much in the way of a protagonist to latch onto.
I’ve got nothing against the Collective Hero approach. I love The Warriors, but The Warriors has Swan and Ajax and Rembrandt, characters who are a part of the larger group, but who have their own dynamics within that group. INFINITY MAN AND THE FOREVER PEOPLE just feels crowded.
The issue opens with a tease, a big, beautiful splash panel of Darkseid. Then, welp, it was all a dream. Golly. And they don’t save that for the end, we find out in just a few pages that Darkseid’s not in this. If I didn’t have to finish reading it to write the review, I would have appreciated them telling me I can put the book down now (or at the most, stop reading and just skim through it for the art).
The art is very strong. They switched up the art team so now it’s being handled by Grummett and Hanna rather than Keith Giffen and Scott Koblish, although Giffen is still on the writing team, and I would be willing to guess that that includes layouts and possibly some art direction, as the series still has that really cool Jack Kirby Cover Band look to it. It’s not quite as blocky and rugged and abstract as Giffen’s Kirby-influenced linework, but it’s dynamic, bold and heavy in its own way, albeit with a slightly sleeker, more modern sensibility.
I personally liked the look of this comic a little better last month, but I have a soft spot for the chunkier sixties vibe it had, and it’s still one of the coolest looking comics DC’s putting out there right now.
Other than some changes to the art, his month’s issue ultimately isn’t much different from last month’s: too many characters and too many ideas lead to a dense, dry meal of a comic.
This issue closes with a tease at the arrival of Infinity Man himself. Maybe Infinity Man will be this series’ Bilbo Baggins, injecting some much-needed protagonism, giving us a singular character to pay attention to as the Forever People fill out the background.
That’s why I’m giving this comic three stars instead of two. How many great books, TV shows and movies start slow in order to build up to a killer climax? INFINITY MAN could still develop into something strong and I don’t want to dismiss it before it’s really built up any steam.
Gorgeous art adds a bit of a sleek, modern sensibility to the heavy, classical Jack Kirby-inspired look the first issue sported.
Infinity Man finally showed up. But maybe that’s all a dream too.
The writing is still as clunky, narration-box-driven and crowded as last month. If you want to do a series that’s true to Jack Kirby, that may simply go with the territory, but the issue isn’t even that there’s too much going on. The issue is that the writing’s so dense with ideas and characters it needs to explain to us that the story doesn’t seem to have gotten moving yet, and there’s not much going on. I feel like I’m watching the characters wade through molasses and the writers just keep pouring it in.
Thus far, this is a big bowl of superhero oatmeal. You can put fresh fruit in it, you can cover it in cinammon and brown sugar, but it’s still a pasty, dense, half-pound bowl of wet fiber.
The art and my hope that the next issue might be pretty good earn this book a bit of lukewarm fondness on my part. The series remains an effective and dutiful attempt at recreating a Jack Kirby comic for a modern audience, with all the good and bad that that entails.