Sep 14, 2008

[Comics] The Infinity Gauntlet

The Infinity GauntletInitially, a lot of Marvel Comics' choices when it came to massive inter-title crossovers were a bit warky. Let's face it, they got luck with titles like Secret Wars, which was initially created for all the wrong reasons and the lucked out with more deliberate attempts at larger storylines like Contest of Champions. The closest they had come to being successful was with larger story arcs within individual titles like The Uncanny X-Men or The Avengers but never on the scale of involving most of the known Marvel Universe.

Things started to change when Jim Starlin started to assemble a much larger story involving Thanos of Titan, a character he also created. the event started with the two-issue limited series The Thanos Quest and led directly to the events in this story. Things were never quite the same after that.

The Infinity Gauntlet was a six-issue limited series that followed the story of Thanos, now the bearer of all six Infinity Gems. Given that he had mounted the gems on his left glove, the item was now collectively known as The Infinity Gauntlet and it essentially gave the Titan omnipotence over all creation. Given his nihilism and love for the very embodiment of Death, his first act was the eliminate half of all life in the universe as a sign of his devotion to her.

Adam WarlockImage via Wikipedia The remaining heroes are rallied by Adam Warlock and proceed to challenge the demi-god Thanos and he allows the conflict to happen in order to somehow impress Death with his fighting prowess. This eventually leads to him not just fighting Earth's heroes but the very cosmic pantheon of the Marvel Universe itself, all forces allied together to somehow wrest control of the Gauntlet from Thanos.

Admittedly, I think my initial love for this story is somewhat wrapped up with my own childhood nostalgia over this series when it came out. I was a lot younger and Marvel Universe Cards Series II had come out as well and so Marvel mania was in full swing for me. Then to have all heroes involved in such an epic struggle they were fated to lose was just unreal to me, what more the concept of the Infinity Gauntlet itself, promising omnipotence to whoever attained it. It was precisely the right kind of story to draw new fans and make things a lot more interesting.

This first story was fairly well-written, although some of the bits involving Earth's heroes was a bit sloppy, admittedly. Let's face it - most of the typical heroes just weren't built for conflict on this scale and expecting them to be able to contribute in any meaningful manner did seem like a bit of a stretch. I know that's why they were supposed to be noble and all that, but then it's still just silly for the mortals to play against the gods, hehe.

At first the plans of Adam Warlock to defeat the Titan were just weird and as a reader you'd expect them to be either amazingly complex that we cannot hope to fathom his plans or just too stupid that the writers were hiding them as long as possible. I'll not make a final judgment of things at this point given the end result was pretty interesting nonetheless.

The larger contribution of The Infinity Gauntlet to the Marvel Universe is what really makes the story so important. Beyond triggering several (if not too many) Infinity-themed sequels, it brought to fore just how dangerous Thanos could be while at the same time introducing as new radical element in the form of the Gauntlet. It becomes a recurring theme for various heroes and individuals to try and deal with the Infinity Gems and ensuring that they remain in safe hands and are not allowed to come together once more. Sure, in time even greater weapons and cosmic forces are introduced to shake things up but nothing every fully replaces the elegance and power of the Infinity Gauntlet itself.

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