Infinity Finale

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Infinity Finale is the final graphic novel in the new Infinity Trilogy by Jim Starlin, with Ron Lim now on art. Picking up where Relativity left off, Thanos wakes up in Death’s palace. Months have passed since the last comic and Annihilus has destroyed most of the universe. His power has increased to the level where he has taken out Galactus and all the Celestials. The only hope left to save this universe is Adam Warlock, who is still trapped with Doctor Bultar. Thanos defends against Annihilus with the last of Earth’s heroes and again the universe is destroyed and remade.

We’ve reached the end of this marathon finally and it’s pretty fitting as this comic reminds me a lot of Marvel Universe: The End. Once again there’s this unstoppable cosmic threat who destroys most of the universe, a lot of heroes die in the fight against them, and then in the end something hits reset on the universe. This time it’s the alternate reality Adam Warlock, with the powers of his destroyed universe, who fixes everything and sets things back to the start basically. He disappears in the end to become the new Living Tribunal but before he goes he brings back the original, who died in Infinity Revelation. So basically the point of this whole trilogy was just to show off Starlin’s favorite characters and make them the strongest characters in the Marvel Universe.

Despite the stakes being higher than ever, the entire universe is almost gone, there’s still no tension or drama here because Starlin doesn’t build it right. When we begin our comic with a dead Galactus you know that something is going to have to fix that. Annihilus is insanely overpowered now so anything that does defeat him will come off as cheap or convenient, which is what happens here with Adam Warlock taking out all the villains. So we have no stakes, no character to care about as our main character has died so many times now it doesn’t even matter, and the plot is thin. The best parts of this comic are just rehashes of Starlin’s better works. I will at least compliment Ron Lim on his art. He draws bloody battle scenes and dead bodies pretty well.

I’d say just skip this whole trilogy. Entity may have been slightly better than all of this but it only really works in context with the rest of comics so on it’s own I wouldn’t recommend it.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artist: Ron Lim

Rating: Rubbish

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Thanos #1-12

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In 2003, Thanos starred in his first ever solo series written and drawn by his creator, Jim Starlin. After the first six issue arc the creative team of Keith Giffen and Ron Lim took over the title for the last six issues. The story takes place a while after the events of The End (Which is non-canon so I don’t really understand why it’s mentioned in this canon story.) Thanos decides to atone for his previous actions and helps out a small planet a clone of his had attacked a while ago. What starts as a simple mission to help becomes something bigger as Galactus becomes involved and something else that may be even bigger than him. After this arc Thanos joins up with some space cops at the edge of the universe to stop the Maker, a now female Beyonder.

So for the first time Thanos stars in an ongoing comic and now he’s become an anti-hero. While he does kill some people he tries to justify it every time and here he is truly just trying to help and make amends. This is a big change for the character as he’s spent a long time hanging around the edge of being an anti-hero. The first arc of this series “Hunger” is pretty good as Thanos fights against an unknown entity trying to invade this universe. It starts a little slow as Starlin sets up what Thanos is doing now and we get a recap of what has been happening in the past comics. It starts to pick up when Galactus shows up and there’s good fight scenes with him. The true villain is actually a new character and I wish it had showed up again as it was a little more unique than the usual invading alien. Starlin does the art for his issues and as always it’s very well done. My only other complaint with this arc is that characters just kind of pop up when they’re needed and then just disappear. Moondragon shows up for one issue and then is just thrown out once she’s served her purpose.

The second arc “Samaritan” doesn’t hold up as well as “Hunger.” There’s a lot going on in Samaritan as we are introduced to this prison called the Kyln and there’s a bunch of new characters being introduced. The problem though is that these characters seem to have a lot of background and history but we don’t really get told about them. The Omega Core characters are just some generic cops who banter a lot, Mynx is a generic cat like villain, and Skreet is an annoying pixie girl who Thanos lets join him for some reason. The other villains, the Maker and the Fallen One are just too confusing and that makes them uninteresting to me. The best part of this arc is the team of Gladiator and Star-Lord, making his first appearance here. They have an actually good banter and there’s some mystery as we hear about something awful that Peter Quill did that makes him give up the Star-Lord name.

The main focus of the comic though is Thanos and here Thanos is still written pretty well. Both writers keep a consistent character with him as he tries to atone for his sins but he still has some bad tendencies. Thanos, especially in the Hunger arc, shows off his intelligence and planning against a stronger foe while also being dismissive of people below him like Pip and Moondragon. I still wish the character had just died off in The End but Hunger wasn’t bad and I’d definitely recommend it for fans of Thanos. However, Samaritan is a pretty weak arc and since it’s half the story this comic is going to be dead in the middle in terms of rating.

Writers: Jim Starlin, Keith Giffen

Artists: Jim Starlin, Ron Lim

Rating: Buy for a Bargain

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Thanos: Cosmic Powers

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Now here’s a book I’d never heard of until preparing for this marathon. Cosmic Powers, later collected as Thanos: Cosmic Powers, is a six issue miniseries that is told in six one shots about different characters in the Marvel universe. There’s a running story throughout each issue about Thanos preparing to take on Tyrant, an extremely powerful cosmic being. Each issue spotlights a character or pair of characters as in issue 3 and there’s one writer but a few artists so quality is definitely going to vary between issues.

This series actually starts off really well with a mostly silent battle where Thanos wipes out an army singlehandedly. Ron Lim is a very good artist so the first issue is definitely the highlight of the comic. Ron Marz writes Thanos pretty well and he really gets the character about as well as Starlin. The next issue focuses on Terrax, someone I’ve never cared about, but the story is good if a little cliché. Jeffrey Moore’s art isn’t bad but it has weird quirks like Terrax’s giant shoulder pads sometimes and the MS Paint looking blood. The next issue is about Jack of Hearts and Ganymede who are two more characters I either don’t know or don’t care about, but they both look ridiculous and Ganymede is supposed to be important in beating in Tyrant but that doesn’t really pay off. Their own solo stuff doesn’t really matter until Thanos arrives and beats them down. The art by Andy Smith is good except for the last page of Legacy which just looks gross.

Speaking of, Legacy is the next issue and I actually like the character. He’s Genis-Vell, the son of Captain Marvel and he goes out to kill Nitro, his father’s killer. It’s predictable what’s going to happen here but it’s a cool brawl. Lim does the art for this issue too so it’s still very high quality. The next issue is about Morg, another character I don’t know and it has art by Tom Grindberg so I was dreading this issue. However, Grindberg’s art here is actually good and nothing like his Infinity Watch issues. There’s still one really weird image that the anatomy of confuses me but that’s it. The story isn’t interesting as Morg is just another Galactus herald which is a character type repeated three times in this series. The final issue about Tyrant is just one big battle where the heroes fight Tyrant and we learn that he is also a former herald. Everyone except Thanos is useless in the battle so we just watch them battle for a while and that’s the end of the story. Scot Eaton is on art here and it’s just fairly standard 90s Marvel fare.

So overall I’d probably just recommend the Ron Lim drawn issues as they have the two best characters in the two most interesting stories.

Writer: Ron Marz

Artists: Ron Lim, Tom Grindberg, Scot Eaton, Jeffrey Moore, Andy Smith

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

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Infinity Crusade

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Now we’ve reached the end of the original Infinity trilogy. Infinity Gauntlet was amazing and War wasn’t that great so I didn’t know what to expect from this one. Infinity Crusade is an event about the good half of Warlock that was shown back in Infinity War. The good half is actually a woman calling herself a Goddess and she brainwashes half of the Marvel universe to serving her. It’s up to the more scientific characters, Warlock, and Thanos to take her down.

Alright here we go with this one. This comic talks a lot about religion and faith and it does not handle it well. The characters that are mind controlled by the Goddess are all noted to be religious or have had near death experiences. Because of this, only science based heroes are left to fight and there’s obvious subtext there about logic winning over faith. Also the main characters are assisted by Mephisto, who is basically Satan, to fight against the God-like villain. There’s no subtlety here and it’s painful and probably would be offensive to the religious if it wasn’t so lame.

With that out of the way I wanna talk about how everything else is still bad about this comic. We have the same problem Infinity War had; the villain is still just not interesting. She has a lot of power and wants to destroy the universe and that’s all there is to her character. She has the heroes on her side but it’s just basic mind control so there is no conflict between friends or any moral arguments between characters. Warlock Chronicles tries to give her depth by saying she’s his ignored feminine side and something about how men ruin everything. It’s a confusing issue and there’s a lot of weird visuals in it and whatever message Starlin is trying to send by having Warlock be half a woman for an issue.

This story takes place over three titles: the main event, Warlock and The Infinity Watch, and Warlock Chronicles. Because of that this comic just goes on for so long and there’s a lot of filler. I like Pip but he wastes so much time in the story with comedy scenes that aren’t that funny. Tom Grindberg is still on Infinity Watch and I seriously couldn’t read his Drax vs Thor issue because of how awful the fight looked. One compliment I’ll give this book is there’s a similar fight scene in Warlock Chronicles that is actually really good with Warlock fighting Magus. That scene is great and I enjoyed the art overall in the main story and in Chronicles. Another big problem I have with this comic is one carried over from Infinity War; the heroes are useless and only Thanos and Warlock do anything relevant to the story.

So to end this I’m gonna include two pictures at the bottom of the post, instead of just one as a comparison of two very similar ideas done wrong in one picture and done well in another.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artists: Ron Lim, Tom Grindberg, Angel Medina, Tom Raney, Kris Renkewitz

Rating: Rubbish

 

Infinity War

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Infinity War is the next big Infinity event by Jim Starlin and it came out just one year after the Infinity Gauntlet. Since that story is such a classic it created some big expectations for it’s sequels and I’m sad to say that this one just didn’t live up to them. I’ll get more into specifics later but right here I think a lot of Starlin’s later flaws become more apparent. Unlike last time where I only talked about the main event, I’ll be mentioning Warlock and the Infinity Watch #7-10 and Marvel Comics Presents #108-111 as they are important tie-ins.

As mentioned last time, Warlock had the Infinity Gauntlet for a brief time and it was taken away from him by the Living Tribunal. We learn here that before he gave up his power, Adam expelled all the good and evil in his body to become a more logical being. After Thanos discovers a vast source of Cosmic Cube energy he locates the source to Warlock’s evil half, the Magus. With a new haircut and more power he has Eternity in stasis and is sending out evil doppelgangers of Earth’s heroes. After this we have three main groups going after the Magus now and that’s the basic plot as Magus just wants to make some duplicate Earth overtake the original.

So the first problem I have here is with the villain. Here the Magus is just a generic doomsday villain who wants to destroy the Earth because he’s evil. There’s never anything more than that and it makes the main conflict so boring and predictable. Secondly, the heroes of Earth are way too incompetent here and have no effect on the greater story. The villains actually do more to stop the Magus than the heroes do because they’re too busy fighting each other. Speaking of villains, Doom and Kang are in this and they team up to fight Magus. Both being arrogant and egotistical villains they secretly hate each other and almost every scene with them has them with thought bubbles about how they’re going to betray the other. This goes throughout the story and it’s just an annoyance as it could have just been mentioned once or just inferred it’s going to happen with these two at some point. Instead we get this constant reminder and it’s not even funny in that classic Doom way.

I don’t want to bash the comic so I will point out some positives. Ron Lim puts in some good art here and can make panels and splash pages with multiple characters look interesting. While the main comic itself is weak I did enjoy the tie-in comics mentioned above. Marvel Comics Presents had an interesting Thanos solo story where he somehow ends up in Death’s palace while working on his throne. Death appears to Thanos and gives him the option to have her back if he betrays and kills Adam Warlock. Then we get to see how Thanos thinks; he wonders if that was real, if he can do it, what will happen to the universe if he does do it, etc. all in a short period as he finally makes his decision. Warlock and the Infinity Watch actually advances the story of the characters while also having the most interesting plot points from Infinity War happening here. Gamora goes into Eternity himself and has a visually interesting experience as she recalls her own childhood with Thanos. There is also Thanos’s battle with his own doppelganger which actually had a cool moment from the Magus.

So while the tie-ins had some good material and there’s strong art across the board the main story just isn’t good and brings down this comic.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artists: Ron Lim, Tom Raney, Angel Medina

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

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Infinity Gauntlet Aftermath

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At the end of the Infinity Gauntlet event Adam Warlock had gained possession of the Gauntlet. Warlock now has the ultimate power Thanos had and like the Titan, the power goes to his head. After a short battle with Doctor Strange, Warlock is put on trial by Eternity, the living embodiment of the universe itself. After a short history of Warlock the Living Tribunal decides that he is guilty and must give up the gauntlet. Warlock is given the choice about who gets the Infinity Gems though and gives them to a few trusted individuals; Pip, Gamora, Moondragon, Drax, and a secret member, forming the Infinity Watch.

The Infinity Gauntlet Aftermath trade paperback contains Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1-6, Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #36, and Silver Surfer #60-66. The Doctor Strange story is just one issue where Stephen fights against Warlock because he was trying to remove the free will of the “evil.” Warlock sees his error but then Eternity arrives and tells Strange about the upcoming trial. This issue isn’t that important as Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1 gives enough reasoning for the trial but it’s a fun enough comic.

We move into the Infinity Watch comic which is the most important series of the comics included. We start with the trial, which is mostly here to retell the backstory of Warlock to provide more context for the main plot of this arc, as we see his time on Counter-Earth which will be more relevant in the later issues. One thing I liked about this comic is that the Infinity Watch sets itself up like a regular team book but then they immediately split up. It’s a smart subversion for the beginning of the comic and it makes sense that these characters would want to be apart to protect their gems. The choices for the Watch are interesting because they’re not the most heroic group and that builds some suspense as you never really know what they’re going to do next. Another thing I enjoyed about these issues is the surprising level of comedy that actually worked for me. There’s the obvious jokes about Drax because he’s mentally deficient but when the High Evolutionary is just rambling to himself because of madness I just thought it was some funny stuff.

We get to the Silver Surfer stuff after that but it’s really not relevant to the Infinity Gauntlet story and can be ignored as well. It’s weird because it’s six issues and there’s only about 2 pages in the last issue that I can remember actually relating to the Infinity Gauntlet and it’s not very important, just Surfer destroying Thanos’s temple to Death. These comics aren’t bad, it’s cool to see Mar-Vell again, but I don’t think it needed to be here in this collection.

Now here’s the part this get’s tricky. As individual comics none of these are bad, in fact I’d say they’re all good. However, as a trade paperback called “Infinity Gauntlet Aftermath” half of the book has barely any relation to the event itself. So if you want to know what happens after Infinity Gauntlet I’d just read the six issues of Infinity Watch. Overall I’d rate the comics around the Full Price range each, but I wouldn’t recommend it collected like this.

Writers: Jim Starlin, Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas, and Ron Marz

Artists: Dan Lawlis, Ron Lim, Rick Leonardi, and Angel Medina

Rating: Buy For a Bargain

 

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The Infinity Gauntlet

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Here it is, the big one. Infinity Gauntlet is the most famous Thanos story and one of the most famous Marvel comics ever. The Infinity Gauntlet is a six issue event comic that came out in 1991, almost a year after the Thanos Quest. With the six Infinity Gems in his possession now, Thanos has the ultimate power. Even this though, does not impress Mistress Death so Thanos goes through with his plan and wipes out half the universe with just a simple snap of his finger. Now all the remaining forces in the universe must band together to battle the Mad Titan.

I first read the Infinity Gauntlet on it’s own, out of order with the rest of the list and I did enjoy it. After reading it again in the context of all these Thanos comics, I have to say that this is definitely the highlight out of all of them. This is the very first of the original Infinity trilogy and it starts the series out strong. It picks up right where Thanos Quest left off but with Thanos hanging out with Mephisto, the devil of the Marvel Universe. Here Thanos shows off the power he now possesses by using it to alter things to his liking, like removing his brother’s mouth and turning Nebula into a zombie-like creature. These first three issues really are just displays of power for Thanos as the heroes come together to face Thanos with help from a newly revived Adam Warlock.

Issue four is where the heroes finally arrive for the famous battle where Earth’s mightiest heroes fight against Thanos and his girlfriend he created, Terraxia. Thanos dulls his own powers to give the heroes a slight percentage of victory and he still almost effortlessly wipes them out. The gems just give him too much power and he kills the heroes in creative and dark ways. I don’t want to spoil the rest of the comic now as I highly recommend it but from here the stakes have reached their highest and after this point everything just seems hopeless. I am a fan of what actually happens and while some might call this ending a cop out, it has to happen for the story to make sense.

One of the best parts of this comic is again, Thanos himself. He’s all powerful and the comic really shows off the unlimited power he has now. The power goes to his head and he still doesn’t have full control of his omnipotence yet. This clouds his judgement and his love for Death makes him vulnerable to Mephisto’s tricks as he depowers himself and ultimately creates his own downfall. He ends this comic in a completely different place and it’s a good advancement for his character as he has become humbled. There’s just a really good balance between his more sympathetic traits and his outright evil actions.

Infinity Gauntlet is an amazing read and is up there with some of the best comics in the genre.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artists: George Pérez and Ron Lim

Rating: Vintage

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