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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Subj: Infinity Inc. #26 - In Seven Pages!
Posted: Sun May 08, 2016 at 10:10:23 am EDT (Viewed 1613 times)

"But Dad, It's Them - The 'Finitors! They're The Coolest Gang Of Young Super-Heroes In The World!
'Course, They're Also The Only Ones, But Still..."
- Infinity Inc Annual #1

It's Earth-2, 1986. And it all seems so distant now from todays perspective. But once, not so very long ago, there was an Earth-2 that was fully formed and lived by its own standard, peers to the Justice League and free of intereference from the agressive marketing tactics of editorial and the destructive impulses of a higher management incapable of thinking longterm.
Infinity Inc was always a very special book for me as at the time it was distributed in the Direct Market and under the 'New Format', which meant it was one of a handful of DC titles cruelly out of reach for the typical young/teen reader who's only source for comics was the newsstand or vendor round the corner... How bitterly ironic and perverse looking back that we never anticipated in those days that the introduction of titles available only to special but out of reach shops would become the standard and preferred practise for DC and Marvel Comics.

But I was lucky, extremely. There was a bookstall in my local Market who made his living as a book exchange, trading and exchanging books for a fee, and he would always have a small stack of Comicbooks that he would renew almost weekly. Somehow he had gained access to a range of books that I could only dream of actually owning, this is where I came by the non-distributed Crisis on Infinite Earths, #12, and those first two years worth of Infinity Inc were one of the prime titles he managed to access, and for what amounted as a near pittance to comicsfan me!
It was never the young Infinitors who were particularly the draw of the series initially of course, the appeal to engage with the book came with the Justice Society, The Huntress, and Power Girl. Up to this point if you were interested in Earth-2 then it would be the annual Justice Leage/Justice Society team ups where that interest came from, but thanks to Roy Thomas and Paul Levitz' influence we were slowly given more in the form of All-Star Squadron and the Huntress back-ups in Wonder Woman, in a strange was then here was an early attempt from DC to create something of an early franchise, of expanding the Earth-2 concept and broadening its appeal. And with Roy Thomas on top form and the remarkable pencils of collaborator Jerry Ordway Infinity Inc was a new title capable of punching above its weight, delivering one of my own alltime favourite stories in the Generations saga which saw through the first year of the book and made full use of the premise of the Sons and Daughters of living Legends in the Superhero community - the very Superheroes who started it all in fact!
But In themselves, as characters, there is nothing all that original, different, or appealing about the line up of Infinity. Despite (or perhaaps because of) the priveleged upbringing and differing ego's for most of them their chief attraction lay purely in the fact they were the children of household name superheroes like Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Hawkman. What would that be like one wondered? What would these teens be like having that as a parentage and standard? Without a doubt the attraction was considerably stenghened by the fact they lived on their own Earth and were therefore effectively the superheroes of that earth, treated with the respect that that independence brought with it. And yet if proof of the power of conceptual alchemy were needed then one only has to look at the effect that the Crisis on Infinite Earths had on this book and the collapse of interest that came after the move to a unified earth, stripped of the Justice Society and Earth-2, forced to share the stage with other youthful teams like The Titans and Outsiders. The death of Infinty Inc was a slow sustained sight. Thankfully I had given up by issue #30 and considered the book dead anyway... completely gutted of its purpose and appeal by the Crisis' consequences.

But looked back on, the appeal lingers. Infinity was powered by its sense of legacy being passed on, of being the children and heirs to the Worlds Greatest Heroes, Legends born from the World War II era. Being on their own earth and near unique as a superhero legacy there gave the team an enormous attraction and curiosity about it, helped by the considerable artistic talent of which Roy Thomas had a knack in recruiting for his Earth-2 projects. Old hand Jerry Ordway brought a vital sense of reality to the books visuals, his successor Todd McFarlane, went in completely the opposite direction to that and delivered a larger than life spectacle that while wildly extravagant and indulgent was at the time a bold and exciting experiment into what could be done with a comicbook page. Gone were the often stiff and formal panel arrangements that could make Jerry Ordway and his contemporaries feel old fashioned and conservative, and in came a way of thinking about page layout that was an early premonition of what was to come in the world of Superhero comics by the turn of the nineties, and the rise of the X-Men and McFarlane's reputation as he moved to marvel. In Infinity Inc his work is imaginitive, bold, and sometimes rather crude, rushed. Yet there are certain issues where, whether it be the inkers input or a McFarlane galvanised by the material, something of truly impressive energy and worth is duly presented. And one such example of his strongest contributions lies in Infinity Inc #26. Also one of the issues I remember the best, and largely thanks to the striking cover which triggers great memories of the series first two years and where I was lucky wnough to find them.

I won't deign to explain Helix, or what Wildcat's link to that dysfunctional family of oddballs is, nor how Carcharo ties it all together, save to say they are all family in a sense. But looking at this issue again after so many years this is just before the time where the magic stops for Infinity Inc readers. With the Crisis now over and reality rewritten Earth-2 dissapears for good at around this very time, and as a result the book fades away into utter irrelevance, with even Todd McFarlane unable to make up the difference. After sporadic fill-in issues McFarlane would finally be gone with issue 37, as The Incredible Hulk, and true success, beckoned. But looking now with hindsight, while he was there Infinity Inc felt almost... fashionable. A book able to punch well above its weight and tempt a break with preconceptions from a suspicious mass audience. And I like to think those intial two years were able to do just that. To this day those are the stories that still mange to maintain an integrity and quality that still impresses and beguiles me, not so much any passion for the main cast, but for the concept. The legacy of some of comicdom's greatest heroes, and the depth nd potential of the Earth-2 concept itself.

Now. Along with Yolanda, meet Carcharo, and sample a slice of typical Infinity Inc from Thirty Years Ago:

'A Hand Has Pulled Neo-Heroine Wildcat From the Waters of Southern Ccalifornia...' - And despite the convoluted background to Helix this is all you need to know to be able to follow the story this issue. Trust to the readers intelligence was the apparent motto, and rightly so.

Melded to such terrific visual layouts Yolanda Montez was one of the newest additions to the Justice Society legacy at the time, a hispanic heroine was an unusual thing in those days but the appeal of the sexy and fiery Yolanda as the new Wildcat was immediate. One of the only benefits to come out of the Crisis on Infinite Earths where Earth-2 and Infinity Inc were concerned.

Seen here recuperating from his severe injuries Hawkman was almost another victim of the Crisis, nearly killed by Dr Phosphorus in the final issues skirmishes between the rampaging villains and the heroes who arrived to check them.

The above pages illustrate one of the driving forces of Infinity Inc in the form of the ever stormy relationship between Lyta Trevor and Hector Hall. The two were both highly competitive and entirely products of their upperclass aristocracy. Nevertheless the friction between the spoilt Hall and both Lyta and in turn Todd Rice was one of the elements that brought some life to these characters, far from being as perfect as their parents, but then they were probobly always very concious of that fact...

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