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The Infinity Gauntlet

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The Infinity Gauntlet
The infinity gauntlet is in the middle of the cover and glare from each gem extends in four directions to the edge of the image. Thanos, Mistress Death, and Mephisto's faces are above it. It is surrounded on other sides by vignettes of various heroes featured in the story. The logo occupies the top third of the image. The text is yellow with a blue shadow.
Cover to Infinity Gauntlet third edition TPB (2011)
art by George Pérez
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
ScheduleMonthly
FormatLimited series
Genre
Publication dateJuly – December 1991
No. of issues6
Main character(s)Thanos
Creative team
Written byJim Starlin
Penciller(s)George Pérez
Ron Lim
Inker(s)Josef Rubinstein
Tom Christopher
Bruce N Solotoff
Letterer(s)Jack Morelli
Colorist(s)Max Scheele
Ian Laughlin
Editor(s)Craig Anderson
Collected editions
1st Ed TPB (1992)ISBN 0871359448
2nd Ed TPB (2006)ISBN 0785123490
3rd Ed TPB (2011)ISBN 0785156593
HC Edition (2010)ISBN 0785145494
Omnibus (2014)ISBN 078515468X

The Infinity Gauntlet is an American comic book published by Marvel Comics. The story, written by Jim Starlin and pencilled by George Pérez and Ron Lim, was first serialized as a six-issue limited series from July to December 1991. As the main piece of a crossover event, some plot elements were featured in tie-in issues of other Marvel publications. Since its initial publication, the series has been reprinted in various formats and editions.

The roots of the series date to concepts developed in comics Starlin wrote and drew for Marvel in the 1970s, primarily Thanos and the Infinity Gems. Starlin returned to Marvel in 1990 as the writer for Silver Surfer volume 3 beginning with issue #34, assisted by Lim on pencils. Their storyline developed through the next sixteen issues and the two-issue spin-off limited series Thanos Quest before concluding in The Infinity Gauntlet. Fan-favorite artist Pérez drew the first three issues and eight pages of issue four before his busy schedule and unhappiness with the story led to him being replaced by Lim.

At the start of The Infinity Gauntlet, the alien nihilist Thanos has collected the six Infinity Gems and attached them to his gauntlet. With their combined power, he becomes like a god and sets out to win the affection of Mistress Death, the living embodiment of death in the Marvel Universe. When Thanos uses his powers to kill half of the living beings in the universe, Adam Warlock leads Earth's remaining heroes against him. After the Infinity Gauntlet is stolen by Thanos' villainous granddaughter Nebula, Thanos aids the remaining heroes in defeating her. Warlock ultimately obtains the Infinity Gauntlet and uses its power to undo the death and destruction caused by Thanos.

The series was a top seller for Marvel during publication and was followed by two immediate sequels, The Infinity War (1992) and The Infinity Crusade (1993). The story's events continued to be referenced in-story by comics for decades. The Infinity Gauntlet remained popular among fans, warranting multiple reprint editions and merchandise. Themes and plot elements have been repeatedly adapted into video games, animated cartoons, and film.

Publication history[edit]

Background[edit]

Jim Starlin introduced Thanos, a main character in The Infinity Gauntlet, in Iron Man #55 in February 1973. He developed the character as a villain in Captain Marvel, a monthly comic he wrote and penciled for Marvel Comics through July 1974.[1] This storyline became known as the "First Thanos War".[2] Starlin left Captain Marvel shortly after finishing the Thanos story.[3]

In 1975, Starlin began writing and illustrating Strange Tales, where he took over the story of Adam Warlock and made significant changes to the character and developed the concept of the Infinity Gems.[2] He reintroduced Thanos first as an ally, then as an opponent of the hero in a storyline known as the "Second Thanos War" that ran until 1977.[2][4] Because of their close publications dates, the two Thanos Wars are sometimes considered to be one storyline.[1] Both are considered "cosmic" stories and led to Starlin being known as a "cosmic" writer.[2][5]

Starlin quit his regular work for Marvel after concluding the Second Thanos War,[6] but occasionally returned for short projects like The Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel and creator-owned work such as the cosmic-themed Dreadstar through the 1980s.[7] He also did high-profile work for DC Comics, such as Batman and Cosmic Odyssey.[5] In a 1990 interview, Starlin described himself as the only writer who had been allowed to "play" with Thanos,[8] although other writers had scripted some tie-in chapters of the First Thanos War.[9][10]

George Pérez is a popular artist known for drawing comics featuring large casts. He came to prominence in the 1970s while working on Marvel's The Avengers before leaving the company to work for DC on comics such as New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Wonder Woman.[11] In 1984, Pérez entered into an exclusive contract with DC, which was later extended an additional year.[12]

Development[edit]

Series writer Jim Starlin in 2008

In 1988, Steve Englehart was writing Silver Surfer and one of his storylines involved the Infinity Gems and Mistress Death. He asked to do a follow-up story where Mistress Death uses Thanos to get revenge on her enemies, but editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco did not know who Thanos was. After the character was explained to him, DeFalco liked the idea so much he wanted to save it for a big summer crossover instead. At the time, he indicated he wanted to format it like "The Evolutionary War", a 1988 crossover spread across the annuals of several continuing series instead of being contained in a limited series.[13]

Because of his ties to the character, Starlin was invited back to Marvel to write the story.[14] Inspired by the work he had recently read from Wilhelm Reich, Carlos Castaneda, and Roger Zelazny, Starlin wanted to purposely add multiple layers to his characters instead of letting them be one-dimensional.[15] He started writing with the expectation that this would be the last Thanos story "at least for a while" and was midway through the story before deciding to make Thanos an antihero.[16] He began writing Silver Surfer with #34, cover dated February 1990.[7] To organize various plot and character points, Starlin made notes on 3-by-5 cards and pinned them to a large piece of plywood hung on his wall.[16]

His first four issues reintroduced Thanos and was seen as the first act of the new Thanos storyline. Initially, Starlin and editor Craig Anderson planned for the story to remain contained within the pages of Silver Surfer. However, Marvel had recently been purchased and the new owners mandated all intellectual property be exploited to maximum potential.[16][note 1] To capitalize on the excitement surrounding Thanos' return, the start of the second act was spun off into the two-issue limited series Thanos Quest, released in September-October 1990.[16][18] The plot then continued in Silver Surfer beginning with #44.[18] In Silver Surfer #46, Starlin reintroduced Adam Warlock and his supporting cast. He included these characters because the editors told him a different writer wanted to use them, and they would let him unless Starlin wanted to use them first. Starlin was not impressed by the other writer's work, so he wrote Warlock into his Silver Surfer story.[14][16] Again, Starlin and Anderson planned to conclude the story in the pages of Silver Surfer, but the sales of Thanos Quest were high enough to warrant another spin-off. After Silver Surfer #50, the plot moved to The Infinity Gauntlet.[16] Because of the time required to write the double-length issues of the limited series and coordinate tie-ins, Starlin had to leave the Silver Surfer series at #52.[19]

The editorial staff did not oppose Starlin's plans to kill major characters, which he believes was partly because Anderson did not share many of the details with his peers.[15] They did, however, limit which of "their" characters could have roles in the story. For example, X-Men editor Bob Harras only allowed Cyclops and Wolverine to appear. The rest of the X-Men cast were shown to have died off-panel or were otherwise omitted.[20] This hesitancy was due in part to the relative newness of summer crossover events.[16][note 2]

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Artists George Pérez (left, taken 2012) and Ron Lim (right, taken 2013)

Early in 1990, Marvel writer/artist Jim Valentino learned Pérez's contract with DC Comics was going to lapse in August. He contacted Pérez by phone to see if he would ink a cover to Guardians of the Galaxy, a comic Valentino was currently writing and penciling. Pérez agreed, and Valentino told Anderson, who was his editor as well. Anderson passed the information to Starlin, who called Pérez and asked him to pencil The Infinity Gauntlet. After working out the terms with Starlin and Anderson, Pérez agreed to the job. In a 1991 interview, Pérez speculated that he was asked because Silver Surfer and Thanos Quest penciller Ron Lim was too busy.[12]

Although Pérez had been a writer as well as an artist at DC, he agreed to work from full scripts on The Infinity Gauntlet because he was not familiar with the current state of Marvel's characters.[note 3] From the start, Pérez found this to be "a little aggravating, unnerving" because of the limits it placed on him. Starlin gave Pérez a suggested layout with each script to use as a reference, but Pérez ignored them with Starlin's blessing. He exercised this freedom by giving some scenes more space, even moving some scenes to different pages.[12] Early in the collaboration, he asked Starlin to increase the number of characters appearing in the story so his return to Marvel would "knock fans' socks off".[21]

Before he had finished the interior art for the first issue, Pérez completed the pencils for the covers of the first four issues so they could be used as promotional material. However, some characters, like Thor and Quasar, were wearing outdated costumes on the cover of issue three and had to be redrawn, which frustrated Pérez.[12] Starlin, who wrote the scripts months in advance, also had to make minor adjustments to account for changes in these characters and the Hulk.[19]

During production, Pérez was also pencilling War of the Gods for DC Comics, a Wonder Woman miniseries he described as a "highly stressful" project.[22] When he began to fall behind schedule on both projects, he wanted to quit War of the Gods but was contractually bound to complete it.[21] Partly because of this stress and partly because he had become used to writing as well as drawing, he became overly critical of Starlin's scripts for The Infinity Gauntlet. Specifically, he felt Starlin's story could be told in fewer pages.[21][22] His lack of enthusiasm caused him to work slower, and he began to fall further behind schedule.[22] In a 1994 interview, Starlin claimed Pérez was also acting at the time, and that it was a bigger contributor to the scheduling problems than the comic workload.[23]

When it became clear Pérez would not be able to meet the deadline for the fourth issue, DeFalco asked regular Silver Surfer penciler Ron Lim to complete issue #4.[21] DeFalco suggested to Pérez that he let Lim finish the rest of the series, and Pérez agreed. Pérez understood the decision, and later said he felt Lim should have been the artist from the beginning. He inked Lim's covers for the remainder of the series to show he bore no ill will to the change.[22] Although Marvel's management had feared sales would fall with Pérez's departure, sales rose with each issue Lim penciled.[16]

To replace Pérez, Lim had to leave his regular work on the monthly Captain America title. He cites Pérez as an influence and found it "nerve-wracking" to supplant him. Furthermore, the large cast made it the most challenging book he had done at that point in his career. Still, he said it was "fun" to work on the design aspect of The Infinity Gauntlet.[24]

When he saw sales figures for The Infinity Gauntlet, Pérez realized he probably lost "tens of thousands of dollars" in royalty payments by leaving the series. However, he was glad he left when he learned a sequel was in development. Like Starlin, Pérez had begun the project believing it would be the last Thanos story, but management asked Starlin to write a sequel midway through The Infinity Gauntlet.[12][22][23] By then, Starlin had already conceived follow up concepts and knew it would be a trilogy.[23]

Publication[edit]

Marvel's marketing department "mega-hyped" the event in the months leading up to its release according to journalist Sean Howe.[25] One aspect of the promotion was sending direct market retailers a kit that included a letter explaining details of the series, a sign to put by their cash register, and a poster 18 inches wide by 36 inches tall.[26] Marvel's promotional magazine Marvel Age featured a cover story on Thanos Quest and a Starlin interview in issue 91 (August 1990), followed by a 7-page preview of The Infinity Gauntlet #1 in Marvel Age #99 (April 1991). The limited series was the cover feature on Comics Interview #94 in March 1991, which included an 8-page interview with Pérez, and Starlin was interviewed about the series in Comics Scene #19 in June 1991.

Marvel initially planned to release a new issue every two weeks, but deadline problems caused it to be released monthly.[19] Issues had cover dates between July and December 1991. Each one was available in both comic specialty stores and newsstand outlets, which included supermarkets and department stores. Although the cover artwork was identical, the edition sold in comic stores featured additional artwork celebrating Marvel's 30th anniversary in place of the barcode found on the newsstand edition.[note 4] Each issue was 48 pages and cover priced at $2.50 at a time when the average Marvel comic was $1.00 and 24 pages.[28]

Tie-ins[edit]

Sleepwalker #7 was a tie-in issue to Infinity Gauntlet, indicated by the triangle icon in the top right corner. The cover art is by Bret Blevins.

To emphasize the connected nature of Marvel's comic books, some ongoing series starring characters seen in The Infinity Gauntlet had contemporary issues showing the main plot from a different point of view or explored consequences of certain events. These issues featured a triangle in the top right corner of their covers with the text "An Infinity Gauntlet Crossover". These tie-in issues did not impact the plot of the limited series and could be skipped by readers without creating plot holes.[16] Doctor Strange #36 was set after the events of the crossover and featured a triangle with the text "An Infinity Gauntlet Epilogue".

Unlike other crossovers such as Secret Wars, Crisis on Infinite Earths or Armageddon 2001 (the competing 1991 crossover from DC Comics) which featured tie-ins from a large majority of their publisher's comics, The Infinity Gauntlet only had tie-ins from titles which were obviously connected to the event or from series which needed a boost in sales.[29] According to Pérez, Marvel's stance toward the tie-ins for its low-selling titles was "do it or else."[30] Starlin remained hands-off when the tie-ins were plotted. He let interested writers look at his plans and choose for themselves which elements they wanted to use. He felt this was the best way to do it since he was unfamiliar with the current state of many of the characters, and had never even heard of Sleepwalker before.[16]

Issues featuring the triangular icon on their covers
Title Issue(s) Cover date Writer Artist
Cloak and Dagger (vol 3) 18 June Terry Kavanagn Dave Cross and Sam Delarosa
Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme (vol 3) 31–36 July–December Roy and Dann Thomas Tony DeZuniga
The Incredible Hulk 384–385 August–September Peter David Dale Keown
Quasar 26 September Mark Gruenwald Dave Hoover
Silver Surfer (vol 3) 51–59 July–November Jim Starlin (51–52)
Ron Marz (53–59)
Ron Lim and Tom Christopher
Sleepwalker 7 December Bob Budiansky Bret Blevins

Collected editions and reprints[edit]

The miniseries was collected in a single softcover edition released in 1992, a time when publishers only collected popular storylines,[31] to coincide with the release of The Infinity War. It featured new cover artwork by Pérez and was enhanced with a foil logo. Later printings of this edition had alternate cover artwork from different artists and no enhancement. The suggested retail price was $19.95, five dollars more than the total retail cost of the individual issues it contained.

In June 2006, Marvel issued a second softcover collected edition to coincide with Keith Giffen and Andrea Di Vito's Annihilation, another cosmic-level crossover starring Thanos and the Silver Surfer. This edition used the cover art from issue #1 and had a trade dress matching the first edition collections of The Infinity War and The Infinity Crusade which were released shortly thereafter. The month of release, it sold approximately 2,500 copies and was the 33rd best selling comic collection according to Diamond Distribution.[32] Marvel also released a Silver Surfer collection subtitled "The Rebirth of Thanos" in 2006 which included four of the lead-in issues of Silver Surfer and both issues of Thanos Quest.

A hardcover edition was released in July 2010 as the 46th entry in the Marvel Premiere Classic line. Like other volumes in this line, it was available with two covers.[33] The standard cover featured a cutout of Thanos from the cover of issue #4 on a black matte background with the title in metallic red ink. The variant cover, available only to comic specialty stores, featured the cover art for issue #1 reduced 50% against a black and red background. The variant edition identifies itself as #46 on its spine.[34]

In 2011, a third edition softcover was released. The first printing reused the artwork from the standard cover of the Premiere Classic edition. Later printings reverted to the cover of issue #1. Sales of the collection rose after Thanos appeared in a post-credits scene of the 2012 film The Avengers.[35]

In July 2014, Marvel released a 1,248 page omnibus edition of The Infinity Gauntlet. In addition to the limited series, the hardcover also included the lead-up issues of Silver Surfer, Thanos Quest, and the marketed tie-ins. It also included additional issues of Incredible Hulk, Quasar, Silver Surfer, and Spider-Man which had not been advertised as tie-ins, but were connected to the story. Comic book stores and the book market both offered a regular edition featuring the cover to The Infinity Gauntlet #1, but comic shops could also order a variant edition with cover art by Starlin.[36]

The first issue of The Infinity Gauntlet was included in the initial wave of Marvel's "True Believers" line in April 2015. Consisting solely of reprints offered at a discount price, comic books in this line are meant to introduce newer readers to the most popular titles in Marvel's history.[37] A new printing was paired with a "True Believers" reprint of Silver Surfer #34 in April 2018.

In March 2018, Marvel released an Infinity Gauntlet slipcase set of 12 hardcover books. Material began with Infinity Gauntlet Prologue and included all three Infinity crossovers, their tie-ins, intervening material, and a 528-page "companion" hardcover.[38]

Characters[edit]

  • Thanos is a powerful alien being. He is a nihilist in love with Mistress Death, but she only speaks to him through her servants because he is not worthy of her attention. Prior to The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos has undertaken several quests for power in order to win her affection.[39]
  • Mistress Death is the physical embodiment of death in the Marvel Universe. She wears a purple robe revealing only her face and hands, which appear either as a beautiful woman or a skeleton. She is one of several cosmic entities in the universe.
  • Adam Warlock is a stoic hero who stopped Thanos during the Second Thanos War. During the encounter, he was trapped inside the soul gem, where he enjoyed a peaceful existence on Soul World.
  • The Silver Surfer is a humanoid alien who served the cosmic entity Galactus by finding inhabited planets for him to consume. Having rebelled against Galactus and gained his freedom, the Silver Surfer now uses the power Galactus gave him to fight injustice and atone for his participation in genocide.
  • Doctor Strange is one of Earth's superheroes. He uses magic spells to battle opponents and is able to open portals to move people from one location to another quickly.
  • Nebula is the captain of a band of space pirates. She claims to be Thanos' granddaughter and commands his old spaceship.
  • Mephisto is a literal devil, ruler of Marvel's version of Hell, and a longtime foe of the Silver Surfer.[40] He acts like a sycophant to Thanos, but he is actually manipulating Thanos toward defeat.[39]
  • Eternity is the living embodiment of the universe. Unless someone is overriding him with an Infinity Gem, he regulates the aspects of the universe controlled by the gems.
  • The Living Tribunal is an entity with authority over Eternity and the Infinity Gems. He is tasked by an even higher power with overseeing and maintaining balance.

Synopsis[edit]

Lead up[edit]

When the number of living things in the universe becomes greater than the number who have died, Mistress Death tasks Thanos with correcting the imbalance by killing half of the universe. The Silver Surfer learns of Thanos' goal and opposes him, so Thanos fakes his own death to proceed without interference.[41] While doing research in Death's realm for the most efficient way to fulfill his task, Thanos discovers the six Infinity Gems, powerful objects he had previously used as weapons, can grant their owner more power than he had understood before. Each gem has control over one facet of the universe - Space, Time, Reality, Mind, Soul, and Power. He journeys around the universe collecting them, adding them to his left gauntlet. Once assembled, he visits Death hoping she will now talk to him as an equal. Instead, she continues to speak to him through an intermediary because he is now her superior.[42]

The Silver Surfer learns Thanos is still alive and confronts him. In a display of his new power, Thanos traps the Silver Surfer's soul inside the soul gem.[43] On Soul World, the Silver Surfer meets Adam Warlock and tells him what Thanos has done. Warlock uses his powers to return the Silver Surfer to his body and promises to help defeat Thanos.[44] The Silver Surfer travels to Earth to warn the Avengers and other superheroes about Thanos.[45] Meanwhile, Mephisto senses the power of the Infinity Gauntlet and offers to teach Thanos how to use his new powers. Secretly, Mephisto is waiting for an opportunity to steal it for himself.[46]

Plot[edit]

Angry because Mistress Death is still rejecting him, Thanos offers her tokens of affection. After creating a large shrine to Mistress Death, he traps burn victim Nebula in a painful state on the verge of death, which he believes to be a beautiful piece of art. When these offers are ineffective, Thanos vents his anger in a wave of force that destroys nearby stars. It has dissipated by the time it reaches Earth but still causes widespread disasters. Mephisto suggests Mistress Death is unhappy because Thanos has not yet completed his task, and Thanos causes half of the living things in the universe to vanish. Meanwhile, the Silver Surfer warns Doctor Strange about Thanos and encourages him to call for other heroes.[47]

The sudden disappearance of half the population prompts individuals across the universe to seek the source, including cosmic entities Galactus and Epoch. Adam Warlock leaves Soul World and enters a recently dead human body on Earth, reviving and altering it to match his former appearance. He appears before Doctor Strange and claims Thanos can only be defeated if Earth's remaining heroes unite under his command.[48]

While Warlock's team of heroes prepares to attack Thanos, Warlock meets with a group of cosmic entities who have been gathered by Galactus and Epoch. They also oppose Thanos because they believe him unworthy of his power. At the gathering, Eternity appeals to the Living Tribunal to intervene and stop Thanos. When the Living Tribunal declines, it and Eternity leave the gathering. The remaining entities agree to attack Thanos upon Warlock's command. As Doctor Strange opens a portal for Earth's heroes to attack Thanos' shrine, Warlock and the Silver Surfer position themselves one light year away to observe.[49]

When Thanos sees the heroes coming, he uses the Infinity Gauntlet to freeze time. As he is about to destroy them, Mephisto convinces him to limit his own power and let them attack as a way to prove his bravery and skill to Mistress Death. Although he stops sensory input from the gems and some of the heroes' attacks surprise him, Thanos easily kills them. As Thanos raises his hand to strike the last survivor, Warlock sends the Silver Surfer racing to remove the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos evades him, but the near-loss leads him to restore sensory input from the gems.[50]

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Two similar images of Thanos taken from The Infinity Gauntlet. The image on the left, showing him with Mephisto, was drawn by George Perez. The image on the right, where Thanos confronts Nebula, was drawn by Ron Lim. Management was unsure of the artistic change at the time, and some critics found the different styles jarring.[16][51]

The cosmic entities attack Thanos as a group. During the battle, Mephisto and Mistress Death also attack him. Their betrayal infuriates Thanos, who traps all the entities in stasis and changes the shrine to feature himself instead of Mistress Death. Believing he has defeated all of his enemies, he separates his consciousness from his body and assumes an astral form. Nebula uses this opportunity to steal the Infinity Gauntlet, which was left behind on Thanos' physical form. She restores herself to a healthy state, then banishing him to drift through interstellar space, but he is brought to Earth through one of Doctor Stranges' portals at Warlock's request. Privately, Warlock tells Thanos he was able to examine Thanos' soul from Soul World while Thanos was in control of the gem. Through his bond with the soul gem, Warlock knew Thanos would lose the Infinity Gauntlet because, at his core, Thanos felt himself unworthy of the power. Overwhelmed by this revelation, Thanos agrees to help Warlock, Doctor Strange, and the Silver Surfer oppose Nebula.[52]

Teleporting back to the shrine, Thanos fools Nebula into restoring the universe to the way it was one day prior to spite him, turning herself back into a burn victim in the process. She wills herself back to health before Thanos can take the gauntlet from her, but during this distraction Warlock returns to Soul World and uses his connection to the gem to create disharmony between the other gems. This causes Nebula pain, and she removes the gauntlet. Warlock leaves Soul World and claims the gauntlet for himself. Nebula is taken into custody and will be tried for crimes she committed as a pirate. Preferring death to imprisonment, Thanos appears to die in a suicide bomb blast. The other heroes are unhappy Warlock is keeping the Infinity Gauntlet, but he returns them to Earth. He travels 60 days into the future to visit an unnamed planet where Thanos is living as a farmer. He tells Warlock he has given up his quest for power and plans to lead a quiet, introspective life.[53]

Epilogue[edit]

Strange visits Warlock to see how he is adjusting to his new powers. Warlock reveals his plan to remove selfish ambition and competitiveness from the universe, believing this will end war and strife. This course of action runs counter to Strange's values, so he casts a spell causing the soul stone to show Warlock how the lack of ambition and competitiveness would reduce sentient beings into simple animals. Warlock changes his mind and promises to consider his actions more carefully.[54]

Eternity summons the Living Tribunal to determine if Warlock is worthy of the Infinity Gauntlet. When he is judged mentally unfit for power over the universe, he agrees to give five of the gems to individuals he determines to be best suited to protect them.[55] Shortly thereafter, the Living Tribunal decrees the gems can no longer be used together.[56]

Reception[edit]

At release[edit]

The Infinity Gauntlet was an instant success and became one of the most influential storylines in comics from the 1990s.[15] Both of the nationwide comic distributors at the time (Diamond Distribution and Capital City Distribution) reported each issue was one of their top ten sellers for the month of its release.[57] When Capital City released their top 100 best selling single issues of 1991, Infinity Gauntlet issues fell between the 42nd and 64th positions. Aside from the first issue of The Punisher War Zone, all of the higher ranked entries were issues of Spider-Man, Robin II, or the X-Men franchise.[58] Wizard, a comic magazine known for embracing speculation in the comic market,[59] listed The Infinity Gauntlet #1 as the ninth "Hottest Book" in September 1991, and two lead-in issues of Silver Surfer were ranked six and ten.[60] The first issue's price rose above its $2.50 cover price in the aftermarket, plateauing around $9 or $10 in late 1992.[61][62][note 5]

The debut issue of the follow-up series, Warlock and the Infinity Watch, was the top recommendation from Wizard for December 1991.[63] It led directly into the first sequel, The Infinity War, which began in June 1992. The next sequel, The Infinity Crusade, began in June 1993. The tie-ins to The Infinity Gauntlet also sold well, leading the editors who had put limits on characters appearing in The Infinity Gauntlet to request their books tie in to its sequels.[15] Although both sequels sold well, they were viewed by critics like Wizard's Pat McCallum as being motivated by sales rather than storytelling because of their excessive tie-ins and slow narratives.[64]

In later years[edit]

Toward the end of the decade, interest in The Infinity Gauntlet began to fade. Its sequels were poorly received by fans, and Warlock and the Infinity Watch was canceled in 1995.[65] The same year, Marvel moved the Infinity Gems from their main continuity to an alternate universe called the Ultraverse, a property Marvel acquired when it bought Malibu Comics. The Ultraverse comics were then canceled in 1996.[66] By 1998, Wizard was no longer listing Infinity Gauntlet in its monthly price guide.[67] The first edition of the paperback collection saw its last printing in 1999.

The iconography of the gauntlet remained popular, however. When Marvel partnered with fellow Disney subsidiary ESPN to create promotional images for the 2010–11 NBA season, the October 22, 2010 issue of ESPN: The Magazine included an advertisement showing Kobe Bryant wearing the gauntlet.[68] When IGN released an unranked list of the all-time best comic book events in 2011, The Infinity Gauntlet was included and was noted for being "a template on which all future cosmic events were based".[69] Its lasting appeal is often attributed to Pérez’s artwork[11][39] and Starlin's unusual treatment of classic heroes.[70][71][72]

Since Thanos made a cameo appearance in the 2012 film The Avengers, there has been renewed interest in The Infinity Gauntlet which was further heightened in October 2014 when the title of the third and fourth Avengers films were revealed to be Infinity War - Part I and Infinity War - Part II.[73][74] As the 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War neared release, several comic news websites produced articles explaining the storyline and speculating on which elements would be included in the adaptation.[75] These articles often describe the story with adjectives such as "epic",[76] "classic",[35] and "iconic".[77]

Not all of the attention was positive. In a 2013 review for Multiversity Comics, Drew Bradley felt the story was only great if read in its entirety. At the time of his article, the collected edition of act one was out of print, and most of act two had not been reprinted in any form. He felt the story would not live up to its hype if readers skipped the lead-in material.[78] Mark Ginocchio enumerated ten reasons he felt the series was overrated on the pop culture website What Culture. He said the transition from Pérez to Lim was jarring for a reader, describing it as "neither seamless nor unnoticeable".[51] He also regretted how The Infinity Gauntlet overshadows Starlin's earlier Thanos stories, which Ginocchio felt were superior.[79] Writing for Digital Spy, Hugh Armitage complained about the comic's lack of real consequences, calling it "essentially [...] a really bizarre love story".[80]

Legacy in comics[edit]

Aside from its immediate spin-off and sequels, the events of The Infinity Gauntlet have impacted storylines in later comics, including Thanos in 2003,[81] Avengers vol 4 in 2011,[82] and Secret Wars in 2016.[83] Several of these later stories have downplayed the power of the gauntlet, often showing someone possessing it being beaten by a more powerful opponent.[84]

The storyline from The Infinity Gauntlet has been revisited by other comic books in the years since its release. The series What If...?, which explores alternate outcomes to important events in the Marvel Universe, featured several issues in which different characters stole the gauntlet from Thanos or obtained it in another fashion.[85] Beginning in August 2010, writer Brian Clevinger and artist Brian Churillathe retold the story for a younger audience in the four-issue limited series Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet as part of the Marvel Adventures imprint. He used the basic framework of the story, but purposefully wrote it in a fashion that did not invite comparisons to the original, with which he did not believe he could compete.[86] During the 2015 crossover Secret Wars, a five-issue limited series by Gerry Dugan and Dustin Weaver reused the title and featured similar elements.[87]

Merchandise[edit]

During initial publication, Tenacity Incorporated offered a licensed black T-shirt featuring cover artwork from the series. It was available exclusively through ads placed in Marvel comics. The front side had the cover artwork from issue four, and the back had the cover artwork from issue three.[88]

Although no contemporary toys were created for the series, several Thanos action figures have been created in the years since that include the Infinity Gauntlet either as an accessory or as part of the sculpt, such as the 12 inch Marvel Select toy[89] and the 2 inch Super Hero Squad toy.[90] In 2011, a Marvel Universe toyline two-pack included Thanos, Warlock, an Infinity Gauntlet accessory for Warlock, and a reprint of The Infinity Gauntlet #3.[91][note 6] Some toy sets have incorporated the series logo on their packaging, such as the 2009 Minimate set with Thanos, Warlock, Mephisto, and Drax the Destroyer[92] or the San Diego Comic Con exclusive set with Marvel Universe editions of Thanos, Mistress Death, Eros, Nebula, and a wearable Infinity Gauntlet made of foam.[93]

A variety of licensed merchandise shaped the like Infinity Gauntlet has been created as well, including a coin bank and earrings from Think Geek,[94][95] a bottle opener from Diamond Select Toys,[96] a coffee mug from Entertainment Earth,[97] and an oven mitt from Loot Crate.[98]

Adaptations[edit]

Capcom adapted the storyline into two video games shortly after its release. The first, Marvel Super Heroes, was released as an arcade game in 1995 before being ported to Sega Saturn and PlayStation in 1997.[99] The second, Marvel Super Heroes In War of the Gems, was released in 1996 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.[100]

After the animated television series The Super Hero Squad Show introduced an "Infinity Sword" in its first season, its second season (2010–2011) loosely adapted The Infinity Gauntlet. Griptonite Games released a tie-in video game, Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet, for several platforms in 2010.[101]

In October 2011, WizKids announced they would adapt The Infinity Gauntlet into an organized play tournament for their collectible miniatures game Heroclix in 2012.[102] Vendors who wanted to participate qualified for free game kits by purchasing a minimum amount of new Heroclix booster packs.[103] It began in January and a new round was held once a month through August. At each round, players received a special game piece for participating and winners received limited edition pieces based on characters from the storyline. The eight participation pieces could be combined to create Thanos' shrine to Death and featured all of the gems.[104] At the time of release, it was the largest Heroclix tournament.[105]

In 2014, the early episodes of the second season of the animated cartoon Avengers Assemble adapted the storyline.[106] It also included elements from the Thanos-centric 2013 crossover comic series Infinity written by Jonathan Hickman and penciled by Jim Cheung, Jerome Opeña, and Dustin Weaver, such as Thanos' allies, the Black Order.[107]

Capcom released Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows in September 2017. While it features elements from the series, it is not a direct adaptation.[108] To coincide with the game's release, Capcom held a global tournament series called "Battle for the Stones".[109] The winner of the tournament received a cash prize and a light-up Infinity Gauntlet trophy.[110][111]

An Infinity Gauntlet prop with gems was included in the 2011 film Thor as an Easter egg for fans before Marvel Studios decided the Avengers films would adapt The Infinity Gauntlet. A post-credits scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) showed Thanos with a gauntlet without gems, and the one from Thor was stated to have been a fake in Thor: Ragnarok (2017).[112] The 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War drew inspiration from The Infinity Gauntlet and depicts Thanos collecting the Infinity Gems with the intent to kill half of the universe.[113][114][115]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Marvel was purchased by Ronald Perelman's company MacAndrews & Forbes in 1989.[17]
  2. ^ Although Marvel characters had been meeting and interacting for years, these stories were typically contained within one character's comic book, annuals, or a limited series. These rarely had a direct impact on the schedule or plot of other monthly comic books. In 1985, Secret Wars II was the first limited series from Marvel featuring crossovers from regular monthly series. While the frequency of inter-title crossovers increased afterwards, The Infinity Gauntlet was the second time the Secret Wars II format had been used.[16]
  3. ^ Some comics are created with more collaboration between writers and artists than others. A style like the Marvel Method gives the artist more control and input into a story. A full script places more limits on the choices an artist can make.
  4. ^ Most comic specialty stores did not have barcode readers at the time, and this minor difference made it easy for publishers to distinguish the two editions. Newsstands could return unsold copies for credit, but specialty stores could not.[27]
  5. ^ Because there are numerous price guides for comics and they do not always agree, a precise date and value for the plateau cannot be determined.
  6. ^ The Thanos in this two-pack is a repaint of a previous release that included an Infinity Gauntlet as well.

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External links[edit]