As the Marvel storyline moves forward on the screen toward Civil War, there is another storyline that is creeping along. A storyline that is as much Greek mythology as it is modern era superheroes. A story of unrequited love. A son struggling to gain his father’s approval and murder him and all his family at the same time. There is some serious abuse of his own granddaughter Nebula and the callous murder of entire worlds. All in an effort to gain the love and affection of the woman he admires. This is of course the Shakespearean tragedy that is the Titan Thanos and his obsession with the Goddess Death.
Casual fans of Marvel know Thanos for his cameo appearances on screen as the big and bad purple dude that appears at the end of the credits. But in Marvel lore, Thanos is so much more and the brilliantly written tale by Jim Starlin known as the Infinity Gauntlet is Thanos’ coming out party.
Having collected the six Infinity Gems, Thanos mounts them on a glove to create the Infinity Gauntlet. The glove gives him power over every aspect of the multiverse. Thanos, with this new power, decides to use it to win the love of the Goddess called Death by doing what she had tasked him to do before. To erase half of all life in the Universe. Instantly, living creatures across the Universe vanish in the blink of an eye. This includes most of the X-men and the Fantastic Four not to discount your neighbor or the guy next to driving on the highway. The Silver Surfer races to Earth to enlist the aid of its superheroes only to find many of them gone. The remains of the Avengers, Stephen Strange, good ol’ Spidey and even Doctor Doom step up to take on Thanos. The mad Titan easily defeats Earth’s heroes but while they kept him occupied another has gathered the Universe’s greatest powers to destroy Thanos. Galactus, the Stranger, Kronos and Eternity. To defeat them Thanos must leave his body and become the very Universe itself, these leaves his tortured granddaughter Nebula to take the Gauntlet from his hand and don it herself. She quickly undoes everything Thanos had done and brings everyone back to life, but that was only to restore herself. Another battle ensues and to keep the glove away from Nebula and Thanos both, the being known as Adam Warlock takes the Gauntlet and Thanos appears to kill himself. Later Warlock and his companions find Thanos working on a farm, contemplating his loss. Warlock decides that Thanos no longer poses a threat to the Universe and leaves him to his exile.
Epic? Impressive? Cosmic? This is when such great writers like Jim Starlin roamed the halls of Marvel Comics and their vision is sorely missed. The Infinity Gauntlet took Thanos from the rafters of an all powerful being that slapped the likes of the Fantastic Four around and didn’t destroy them because, well because they weren’t enough to be bothered with; to a tragic character who would kill and kill with madness and brutality in his pursuit of love. Perverse, yes. Warped, yes. But it was for love none the less. It also brought forward, from a cult following, the ressurected character, Adam Warlock. Years ago in the early stages of this blog, I wrote about Warlock. He was for a time, one of the standards of the Marvel Universe and his stories were tragic and epic in scope. It was a time when Marvel did not dumb down their stories and actually respected the comic book reader. The stories were Shakespeare and Greek mythology and were about the epic battle of good and evil and the moral repercussions of both. They were, in a word, awesome.
As part of the Avengers movie line, Marvel is going to do the Infinity War I and II. In the comic book world this takes place after the Infinity Gauntlet. Here’s hoping they don’t screw it up.