Infinity Warps spins out of Infinity Wars. Around midway through the world’s population is halved by merging pairs of people, resulting in a new universe in which new heroes were created, hence the Two in One subtitle. Five new heroes are introduced in two-chapter tales, several following a formula of the first providing an origin, and the second expanding their lives.

The most prominent is Soldier Supreme, a combination of Captain America and Doctor Strange, the only hero used in the parent series, and the only star of a longer story written by Infinity Wars creator Gerry Duggan, with Adam Kubert on art. This creation also dates back to World War II, except the serum administered to a young volunteer has a sorcerous aspect, and the result is a smart incorporation of two histories over the first chapter, but a dip for the second, which leads back into the main story.

Iron Hammer merges Thor and Iron Man, written by Al Ewing as a pastiche of 1960s Marvel, complete with soul-searching via thought balloons. It’s a clever exercise without being compelling, but Ramon Rosanas designs a hammer with an almighty whomp.

Dennis Hopeless and Alé Garza depart the widest from formula by having Peter Parker develop spider-related abilities, but combined with Moon-Knight’s internal personality conflicts. There’s a clever twist at the end, but this is otherwise by the numbers.

A whole batch of combined characters feature in Ben Acker and Ben Blacker’s introduction of the tormented Weapon Hex, joining X-23 and the Scarlet Witch. It features decent ideas throughout, but Gerardo Sandoval prioritises style over storytelling which makes the whole unappealing.

More than any other feature, the combination of art and colour in Ghost Panther startles. Jefte Palo takes Jae Lee as an inspiration in shrouding the Black Panther/Ghost Rider hybrid in darkness, but Jim Campbell’s colour effects introduce a vivid contrast in what’s the best of the collection. Presented as a man of principle initially down on his luck, T’Challa resists the power of the Ghost Rider as long as possible, but needs it when his opponents turn up. They may mean little to today’s readers, although it’s not necessary to know them to enjoy events, but Jed MacKay’s inspiration will give older Marvel fans a real thrill. It’s a dark story, as are most on consideration, but very readable.

Infinity Warps closes with a succession of shorter stories by a variety of creators. In most cases these are more experimental, sometimes funny as Ryan North’s Moon Squirrel, which includes the great Doctor Doom and Galactus merger, and sometimes strangely inventive, like Chris Hastings writing about Kamala Kang. However, they’re mildly diverting extras rather than any compelling reason to pick up the collection.

Ghost Panther is the quality act here, but too much of the remainder marks time. A second dose of the characters follows in Secret Warps.

For some reason Amazon US only want to sell you the digital version, so the link is to that.