The early 90s saw a fantastic trilogy in The Infinity Gauntlet, War, and Crusade, otherwise known as the Infinity Trilogy. They were published over the summer in 1991, 1992 and 1993 respectively and followed the exploits of Thanos, Adam Warlock and other Marvel characters. They have been collected in trade paperbacks and contain some epic fights, thrilling artwork and compelling story.
Legendary creator Jim Starlin creates his cosmic Marvel masterpiece with the first entry into his “Mad Titan Thanos Trilogy” with The Infinity Gauntlet. While Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet is on everyone’s mind these days thanks to the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, in 1991, a new tale was just beginning.
Originally released as a 6 issue mini series, the collected trade paperback is superb. Starlin is teamed up with artist George Perez, who turns in some of his best work here. The story is simple enough (cosmically speaking of course).
Thanos is in love with Death. In order to prove his love to her, he must kill half the universe. He takes the Infinity Gauntlet and brings in the Infinity Gems (controlling Power, Space, Time, Mind, Reality and Soul) to complete this task. These play a very prominent part in the MCU, where they are called “Infinity Stones”.
And in killing half the universe, he kills a lot of the Marvel heroes too. So Adam Warlock brings together heroes to fight Thanos and restore the deceased heroes to life. But how do you stop someone with the powers of a god? Therein lies the crux of the story and provides the readers with some amazing panels of the heroes battling Thanos each with their moment to shine.
It almost gets to a point where the heroes just pour on Thanos, throwing everything they’ve got, hoping that he will falter somehow or that he’ll make a mistake. The stakes are huge and you can feel the despair as the entire cosmos gets involved. Starlin crafts a story filled with love, death, cosmic balance and consequence that stands up to today’s standards. Thisstory deals with the abuse of power and how that corrupts someone.
If you want to know how big a bad Thanos is, this is the story to dig in with. To quote Captain America “As long as one man stands against you, Thanos, you’ll never be able to claim victory.”
The Infinity War begins right where the previous book left off. Thanos is alone and in exile. He has been defeated. He tasted the glory that is godhood and has been cast out once again. Jim Starlin is back to tell another tale about the Mad Titan and this time artist Ron Lim provides the pencils. What was also neat is that Marvel treated these like summer blockbuster series, and this was 1992’s version.
This collection contains the original 6 issue mini series of the same name, plus an additional 4 issues from Warlock and the Infinity Watch and 4 issues from Marvel Comics Presents anthology.
Adam Warlock has dismantled the Gauntlet and taken control of the Infinity Gems, bringing together a team to watch over them. However, there are evil dopplegangers of Marvel heroes popping up all around and they are causing catastrophic problems. The evil Magus, who is the bad part of Adam Warlock (it’s comics, take a breath) has orchestrated the twisted versions of the hero, as Starlin plays with the idea of duality – good and evil.
We do see some interesting combinations of characters here, Dr. Doom and Kang the Conqueror working together with Magus, yet betraying each other, is completely within their character. This sequel is a little muddy though as it’s filled with too many characters in essentially overblown cameos and some strange plotting. This is likely due to the combination of the additional stories collected here.
When I read this in when it came out, it was awesome and each character fighting their doppleganger was a fun thing to see. The story itself isn’t a retread of Gauntlet, but rather an extension of the consequences from the previous book. Thanos comes back, and this time, you almost want him to take back the Infinity Gems. The stakes are that high. There are some interesting conceptual discussions of good in evil in this book that you normally don’t see in comics so that is a treat.
Overall this is an interesting sequel to Infinity Gauntlet, but a little bit of a let down.
Jim Starlin’s end cap to the Infinity series is The Infinity Crusade, collected in two volumes. The first has Infinity Crusade 1-3, Warlock Chronicles 1-3 and Warlock and the Infinity Watch 18-19. The second volume has Infinity Crusade 4-6, Warlock Chronicles 4-5, and Warlock and the Infinity Watch 20-22.
Together with artists Ron Lim and Tom Raney, we see the 1993 summer series come together as the personification of good from Adam Warlock, The Goddess brings together Marvel heroes to eliminate evil from the universe. That always works out, right?
This is the weakest of the Infinity series and perhaps that is because the Marvel characters take a backseat here and the main character isn’t that compelling. After Thanos and Magus, The Goddess just isn’t as threatening – at least here. The concept of removing all evil is an intellectually stimulating thought, but it never seems to get fleshed out enough to really go anywhere.
Perhaps it’s the additional tie-ins to the main series that lessen the impact this could have. The idea of free will versus religion is interesting and Starlin does play with that to a bit, but it just becomes muddy with paper-thin motivations and not enough plot to fill the series. I am curious as to what elements, if any, the MCU will include in it’s epic Avengers: Infinity War two-parter. A lot to choose from, so we’ll just wait and see.
Overall, the Infinity trilogy is interesting and a lot of fun to read, but if I’m being honest, you might skip the last one and just enjoy the first two.