Hey there, before reading this I would like to let you all know that there will be NO ENDGAME SPOILERS in this piece. This is simply a look back on the Infinity Saga in the Marvel Comics universe, exploring its origins and a few of my favourite stories, and why the Mad Titan, Thanos is a feared villain across pop culture.
Infinity Gems, or as we all know them now as Infinity Stones. Six powerful jewels. Time, Soul, Power, Reality, Mind and Space. All with the ability to harness unstoppable power within the Marvel Universe. The stones are famously known for being used by the Mad Titan, Thanos, in the comic event known as The Infinity Gauntlet, a story which influenced the beloved Avengers Infinity War movie. As we know harnessing all six stones can give you the power to wipe out half of the universe. The stones originated from a universe ruled by the Celestials. Originally there was only one stone known as the soul stone, and from there, the others started to follow.
The stones first appeared in Marvel Premiere #1 alongside Adam Warlock, a powerful cosmic being designed to be the “perfect human” has a strong relationship with the Infinity Stones. Originally being granted the power of the Soul Stone by the High Evolutionary to aid Adam on his mission, he soon succumbed to the stones dark side where he soon struggled to control the will to steal other people’s souls.
The Infinity Gauntlet
The first big event involving all of the gems was the 1991 event The Infinity Gauntlet. The team behind this epic piece were the iconic comic creators Jim Starlin the writer and George Perez masterfully on the artwork creating some gorgeous pages. The basic overview of this event is Thanos has collected all six stones and wiped out half of the Marvel universe. This was one of the main stories which heavily influenced Infinity War. This truly is a beautifully crafted story, and when reading we know instantly that the bare bones of this book were used as the general outline for Avengers: Infinity War. Similar to Infinity War this is a story about the villain becoming victorious. Infinity Gauntlet became an instant success for Marvel, known for it’s a bold daring story which took risks for the Marvel Universe in that time. This story is very nearly approaching being 30 years old, but it still doesn’t fail to blow my mind every time I pick it up to re-read.
As we know Disney doesn’t own all of the Marvel characters from their extensive catalogue or they haven’t introduced certain characters into some of the movies yet. So the roster for this story varied quite a lot to what we saw on the big screen, but still contained some beautiful character moments, and really gave us the true potential of the evil Thanos wields.
Next Up is Infinity, a 2013 event written by the incredible Jonathan Hickman. Seriously if you haven’t read anything by Hickman go back and check out his Fantastic Four run, Secret Warriors and Avengers run. This particular event had a team of rotating artists such as Cheung, Opena, Deodato, Caselli and Yu. Looking back on this story I couldn’t believe this was released back in 2013, as it still feels so recent. This event impacted me massively and blew my mind when it all concluded. The entire build-up to this event was beautifully crafted, starting in Johnathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers series, intertwining the two stories together to create this massive scale event.
This was also one of the major stories which influenced the Infinity War movie, mainly from character introductions. This was the first appearance of the Black Order, who if you have forgotten is Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, Supergiant (she didn’t appear in Infinity War) and Black Dwarf (renamed as Cull Obsideon in Infinity War). In my opinion, the scale of this event was huge. Obviously the stakes and the emotional impact that the Infinity Gauntlet had been a lot higher, but Infinity felt huge. The book is A LOT bigger than Infinity Gauntlet and spanning over multiple stories from various titles and tie ins, it really gave us that modern space opera feel that I haven’t felt in a Marvel event in a long time. The finale of this event set up multiple ripple effects through the Marvel Universe, which had long-lasting effects.
If you’re after some backstory for the Mad Titan himself and want to delve into the mind of what makes Thanos tick, then I recommend checking out Thanos Rising. Thanos rising was a 5 issue series and served as a backstory for Thanos. Backstories for villains can go one of two ways, either really well developed, or really poorly executed. Written by Jason Aaron (writer of Thor and creator of Jane Foster Thor), with artwork by Simone Bianchi, this really goes deep within what makes Thanos… Thanos. Death is what Thanos lusts the most, as we see the birth of Thanos and follow him through his life, up until the Thanos we all know, as we watch him succumb to his lady Death that he forever continues to impress. This was released along the same time as Infinity back in 2013. As a story, this can be seen as quite a dark and psychotic story for a character. Filling us with sympathy for Thanos at the start until we see him descend into madness, giving him his famous title. What I like most about this series is that Thanos isn’t just shown as a brute, looking for violence, he’s known as the smartest child on the planet Titan, and the actions he takes throughout this book feel seamless as if he’s had already figured his next step.
If these stories got you interested, I recommend checking these ones out!
- Thanos Wins
- Avengers: Brian Michael Bendis Volume 2
- Infinity War