Monday, September 16, 2013

Review # 47: "Infinity Gauntlet"

"Infinity Gauntlet" was Marvel's first great event comic of the 90s and may have been the best of what was to become an overinflated decade. It had the right man at the helm for a Thanos story - his creator, Jim Starlin - and George Perez, still benefiting from the commercial windfall of DC's "Crisis on Infinite Earths," returning to Marvel to do pencils. While Perez was forced to bow out part-way, replaced very effectively by Starlin's recent "Silver Surfer" partner Ron Lim, the result was spectacular.

Having collected all of the Infinity Gems, Thanos is now a God. He creates a vast monument for the cosmic force of death, the lady he pines for. When that's not enough to earn her affection, he grants her a wish she made in the pages of "Silver Surfer": to wipe out half the life in the galaxy.

Thanos does it with a snap of his fingers.

Half of the universe disappears in an instant, including many of the heroes on Earth. The Fantastic Four, several Avengers and most of the X-Men and X-Factor are gone. Captain America desperately gathers everyone he can, including the Avengers' reserves remaining ("Erik Masterson" Thor, Iron Man and She-Hulk among them,) Wolverine, the Hulk, Cyclops, Namor and others. Joining them are Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom, Silver Surfer, and a man Thanos does not count on: Starlin-creation Adam Warlock, back from the dead, whose motives are left mysterious.

Cap's motley crew assaults Thanos' dark monument, which leads to one of the most spectacular battles in comics history (preceded by an iconic Perez cover where Thanos taunts "Come and get me.") The Mad Titan dominates the heroes, killing them in horrific - yet non-violent - fashion. Their deaths are disturbing, lack of blood aside. With his Terran foes dispatched, we get a true knock-down drag-out between the new God and the best the cosmos can muster. Master Order and Lord Chaos; two Celestials; the Stranger; Kronos; the embodiments of love and hate; freaking GALACTUS. As Thanos takes down Eternity itself, it seems all is lost. But... how many times has Thanos come close to victory, only to have it snatched away?

That is an important question that comes up for discussion, mentioned briefly at Avengers HQ then expanded on later. Thanos finds a way to screw it all up, we reach a second climax, and finish with one of the most satisfying endings to an event comic that I can recall.

"Infinity Gauntlet" is certainly flashier than the two previous Starlin trades I've read. It's also very accessible. I read this before "Avengers vs. Thanos" and "Rebirth of Thanos" and enjoyed it on its own. Adding the previous context makes it even better. While it may not reach the same level of creativity as the other sets, there is no doubt in my mind that this is the most fun. It's the perfect conclusion to Starlin's time both with Warlock AND with Thanos.

Well, if you pretend that "Infinity War" didn't happen.

Rating: 9.5/10

Up next: The original "Young Avengers" creative team reunites for the most disappointing comic I think I've ever read.

No comments:

Post a Comment