Graphic Novel Review: The Infinity Gauntlet/Infinity Countdown

The Infinity Gauntlet

The Infinity Gauntlet - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

Infinity Countdown

Infinity Countdown - Credit: Archant

Six gems forged at the genesis of the Marvel Universe, each representing a different aspect of cosmic power, which when brought together can rewrite reality itself. The Infinity Stones are named after, and represent, a particular aspect of existence - Time, Soul, Space, Mind, Reality and Power – and are wielded on a golden glove known as the Infinity Gauntlet.

In Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim’s groundbreaking cosmic crossover event, named after the Gauntlet itself, the mad Titan Thanos brings the stones together for the first time, and gains almost godlike status as a result.

In order to win the love of Mistress Death, he wipes half of the universe’s living beings from existence, including many prominent superheroes. The survivors are led by the messianic Adam Warlock in a futile bid to thwart Thanos’ machinations, only for many of them to fall in the process.

With the odds against them, it takes an unexpected change of ownership for the Gauntlet to give Earth’s defenders a chance at victory…

First published during the gimmick-strewn ‘90s, and featuring industry-renowned creators at the very top of their game, the original Infinity Gauntlet stood head and shoulders above much of the dross which packed the marketplace at the time (see DC’s Armageddon 2001 for comparison). Not only were the stakes raised to hitherto unimaginable levels, but the story and dénouement made perfect sense within the established remits of the Marvel Universe, something which would become increasingly less likely over subsequent decades.

Characterisation is spot on throughout the six issues collected here, whether the protagonists hail from the A-list or Z-list of Marvel’s pantheon, and it is here that we truly see the development of Thanos as one of the publisher’s all-time great characters.

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Some 27 years later, and the threat of the Infinity Stones is resurrected, as it is realised that the gems were recreated when the Multiverse was restored by Mr Fantastic after the Secret Wars. Across the cosmos, gems are being seized by disparate forces, including a resurrected Wolverine, the Super-Skrull, the Nova Corps, Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock, but they are also being targeted by the Ultron/Hank Pym amalgam as part of its schemes of universal conquest…

Despite jumping between galaxies and time periods with reckless abandon, and featuring a diverse array of characters, nothing feels contrived, and events play out at a natural pace which never feels rushed.

Writer Gerry Duggan neatly sets up his protagonists ahead of the Infinity Wars storyline, but as a prologue this massive tome naturally lacks any sort of satisfactory conclusion. That small criticism aside, this is a fantastic, universe-spanning beginning of what should turn out to be an epic event.