The road to Avengers: Infinity War continues with Dennis’s review of The Infinity Gauntlet #2.
This article contains plot details for The Infinity Gauntlet #2.
The Infinity Gauntlet #2
Writer: Jim Starlin | Pencils: George Perez | Inkers: Josef Rubinstein | Letters: Jack Morelli | Colorists: Max Scheele | Editor: Craig Anderson | Chief: Tom DeFalco
Marvel’s epic tale of galactic power and struggle began with The Infinity Gauntlet #1. In that issue, the myth was born. Thanos collected the Infinity gems in a desperate attempt to win the affections of Mistress Death. However, nothing he did pleased her. Task after task, tribute after tribute – all were for naught. Nothing was good enough. Then, Mephisto advised the Mad Titan he needed to complete the very task Mistress Death has set him upon. It was then that Thanos had an epiphany, and with a snap of his gauntleted hand, he wiped out half the life in the universe in a “great disappearance.” If The Infinity Gauntlet #1 was the foundation for the epic struggle, then The Infinity Gauntlet #2 is the next act in the play. The heroes, and many of the villains, of the galaxy are gaining awareness of the truly cosmic threat that Thanos presents. The question is, how will they fight him, and who will lead them? The Infinity Gauntlet #2 begins to answer those questions.
Dr. Strange – The Sleuth, Herald, and Oracle
While tending to Silver Surfer, Dr. Strange experiences a strange vision. A being reaches out to him from some other plane of existence. This being warns of the danger that Thanos presents, and declares that Earth’s heroes must unite behind him, whoever he is. Naturally, Dr. Strange is suspicious and responds that Earth’s heroes won’t simply rally to this stranger’s banner. However, Dr. Strange and this entity bare their souls to one another, and after the fact, Strange places his trust in this being. Eventually, Strange learns this is Adam Warlock.
In addition to acting as Warlock’s herald, Dr. Strange seems to accept the mantle of sleuth in this issue. He is something of the oracle of the epic myth. The Master of Mystic Arts, intentionally or not, collects the clues necessary to solve the riddle. For instance, the Silver Surfer came to him. Then Strange brought in Hank Pym, and then Hank left to rendezvous with the West Coast Avengers. He is a common thread as subsequent story elements demonstrate.
In The Infinity Gauntlet #1, a number of mysterious beings inhabited the bodies of some petty criminals. By the end of the issue, one had disappeared when Thanos snapped his fingers. Another went into a cocoon. In this issue, Adam Warlock emerged from that cocoon. His companions Pip the Troll was waiting for him. Adam Warlock has a long and complicated history and he was the one-time custodian of the Soul Gem. He also has a longstanding feud with Thanos. On occasion, Warlock will cocoon himself to recreate his body. He had transplanted his soul and that of Pip and a third person into their human hosts in the prior issue. Now, he is working to rally an army against the Mad Titan. Prior to this time, he was believed to be dead, although he was actually dwelling within the Soul Gem.
Doctor Doom Suffers No Interference
When Thanos removed half the life of the universe, he wiped out the entire Fantastic Four. From Avenger’s headquarters, Captain America monitors the disappearance of many of Earth’s heroes. On the monitor each member of the Fantastic Four is listed as “disappeared.” However, The Infinity Gauntlet #2 still has a Fantastic Four connection. Several in fact. The first connection is Doctor Doom. As Doom sees it, Earth is his world. It is his to subjugate, and therefore, it is also his to protect. Therefore, he will not suffer an interference from an intergalactic presence.
Doom arrives at the Sanctum Santorum after conducting his own investigation into the disappearance. He has remarkably precise equipment and detects the source of the force responsible coming from the far side of the galaxy, and he also determines a similar source coming from Upstate New York and directed towards Dr. Strange’s Sanctum Santorum. In other words, he becomes aware of Adam Warlock’s communications, but he doesn’t know what they mean.
In addition, Dr. Doom has a personal stake. He blends science and sorcery unlike any character in the Marvel universe. What is happening now is alien to him. His scientific curiosity is piqued, and it presents an opportunity to expand not only his knowledge, but his personal powerbase. Therefore, he invades the Sanctum Santorum looking for answers and begins threatening Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange to get them. Before matters come to blows, Adam Warlock arrives and promises the answers he seeks. The remaining question is whom is fit to lead the galaxy’s champions against Thanos? Can Doom bring himself to work at the direction of one such as Adam Warlock?
The Other Side of Prejudice
In the previous issue, the Skrull raged that the Kree must be responsible for the disappearance of so many of their citizens. It was the natural result of a long-held animosity for their interstellar rivals. Now, it is the Kree’s turn to act on suspicion. Neither side has any proof that the other is responsible for their problems. However, that doesn’t stop them from preparing for war. Although it seems like a premature reaction, and it is for certain, it also lends to the “epic myth” story nature of this series. Old rivals rally their banners and prepare for war because of the interference and mysterious actions of a secret god. The galactic stakes are ratcheted up considerably.
Eros – The Brother of Thanos
With the power of the universe at his disposal, Thanos takes a moment to torment his little brother. Eros and Thanos have a very long history together. While Eros was beautiful and the favored heir to the Eternals on Titan, Thanos was a castoff. Suffice it to say that there isn’t much love lost between them at this point. For those interested in his history, he has been known as “Starfox” while with the Avengers. Eros knew the great disappearance was Thanos’s doing, although he was unsure how.
He didn’t have long to wait as Thanos used the poser of the Infinity gems to whisk Eros from Titan to his stronghold. There, Thanos tortured Eros and forced him to witness his devilish work. Eros though knows all the players – Mistress Death, Nebula, and Mephisto. He quickly understands what is happening. He also notes that their father, Mentor, is missing. Again, this follows the legendary and mythical quality of the issue. Thanos made sure Mentor was disappeared in order to prevent him from aborting Thanos’s vision of the future.
Readers will remember from The Infinity Gauntlet #1, this entire saga started because Thanos was attempting to impress death by completing her quest to annihilate half the life in the universe. Having achieved that, in The Infinity Gauntlet #2, Thanos continues working hard to win the affection of his mistress. However, much like mythological deities from prior eras, Mistress Death is not so easily moved. Eros sees that Thanos is drunk on his power and driven mad by his inability to win Death’s heart.
Finally, his frustration boils over and releases a wave of energy throughout the galaxy. A nearby red giant star is no match for the power. The devourer of worlds, Galactus watches as Thanos’s fury devours worlds and reshapes reality and knows that he is outmatched. Despite that, he will not run from Thanos, and instead he will find alliances to defeat him. His calculations suggest Earth is a good place to start.
Other Heroes and Villains in The Infinity Gauntlet #2
The Pantheon of characters reacting to the crisis created by Thanos expands almost with every page. Early on in this issue, Quasar joins the cause. Epoch, his cosmic and interdimensional ally, fetches him after learning the dire nature of the emergency from a then unnamed being that appears to be Adam Warlock. Quasar wastes no time in arranging an intergalactic rendezvous.
On Earth, while the Avengers monitor the disappearance of heroes, Thor works with the rest of the team. However, he carries another burden: he is keeping a secret from his teammates. He is not the original Thor. On Asgard, his father, Odin, summons his fellow “Sky-Fathers.” This may be a new concept to many Marvel fans. The Sky-Fathers are other mythological deities that rule their own pantheon of Gods such as Zeus and Osiris. They are in agreement that they must act; however, before they can do so, the rainbow bridge is shattered by Thanos’s wave of destruction.
On Earth, Cloak, of Cloak and Dagger fame, struggles with the loss of his companion. Wolverine, perhaps the sole remaining X-Man or mutant on Earth, saves civilians where he can. In space, Iron Man investigates the mystery of the disappearance when the wave of destruction strikes Earth and decimates entire areas of the planet. The west coast of the United States falls into the ocean. Japan is destroyed. Namor the Sub-Mariner investigates new volcanic activity on the ocean floor that creates catastrophic tidal waves.
A Note on the Human Torch
Some readers might be confused by the appearance of the Human Torch in the later part of this issue. After all, the Human Torch was listed as missing earlier in the issue. However, the Marvel universe has two of them. The more familiar Human Torch is Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four. He has been disappeared. The other Human Torch is Jim Hammond, an android. This Human Torch was allied with the West Coast Avengers at the time of The Infinity Gauntlet #2.
Concluding Thoughts on The Infinity Gaunlet #2
In the prior issue, Thanos accumulated his power in a jealous attempt to win the affection of Mistress Death. He engaged in several mythological feats to win her affection, but it was to no avail. In the end, he suddenly remembered his task and in doing so, wiped out half the life of the galaxy. It was the type of detail that raises eyebrows with modern readers when it appears in an ancient myth but works perfectly in grounding this story in the same sense of epic storytelling.
Infinity Gauntlet #2 adds another dimension to the epic myth. The Mad Titan is struggling now, and the mere mortals and lesser deities are caught in the wake of Thanos’s anger and whims. Much like the gods of Olympus that destroyed the Titans in Greek mythology, the heroes and villains must join forces to defeat this threat to secure their own fates.
Through two issues, The Infinity Gauntlet defines what is means to be an event comic. The creators carefully removed some of the heroes, such as the Fantastic Four, Hawkeye, and Black Panther (as an aside one must wonder if this series was written in 2018 if they would still eliminate him given the success of the recent movie) to help limit the scope. Despite that, the number of characters involved is astounding. In addition, many of the characters, such as Eros/Starfox, Adam Warlock, and Quasar are relative deep cuts from the Marvel universe. Unlikely alliances have been drawn and the fate of the galaxy depends on their cooperation.
Dennis Keithly is a graduate of the University of Missouri, North Texas attorney, husband, father of two, and co-host of Starships, Sabers, and Scoundrels. In addition to Star Wars, Dennis is a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and super heroes in general. When not engaged in fictional universes, Dennis is reading a good book or watching the NHL, football, or studying the NFL draft.