Bang For My Buck: 30 Days Of Marvel Unlimited, Day 2 - To Infinity (Gauntlet) And Beyond

To take full advantage of the fact that Marvel Unlimited is only 99 cents for the first month if you sign up by March 14, Nick is trying to see how much use of the service he can get. Every day, he’ll share what he read.

It occurred to me pretty early on that despite the vast potential for exploring Marvel comics I’ve never read, Marvel Unlimited would also be pretty useful for stuff I knew I had but just didn’t feel like digging out. For Day 2 of my subscription, that meant going back to Infinity Gauntlet, one of my favorite self-contained events, plus its sequels.

My brother and I bought every issue of The Infinity Gauntlet when it came out, as well as every issue of Inifinity War and at least the beginning of Infinity Crusade. Though each series was progressively less exciting than the one before, I’ll defend The Infinity Gauntlet as an all-time classic, using both popular super heroes and the cosmic beings of the Marvel universe in a tale with stakes as high as there could ever be.

On the technical side, these series gave me a good look at one of the drawbacks of the Marvel Unlimited app, which is that is isn’t that elegant in terms of handling two-page spreads or large horizontal splash pages. This could just be a limitation of digital comics themselves, as you have to keep tilting the screen to properly view pages like this, and even then you don’t quite have the screen real estate that would make for the best viewing.

Marvel Unlimited does allow you to use pinch gestures to zoom in and out, but that’s still not ideal. Score one for physical comics, I suppose.

Let’s dive into the comics:

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The Infinity Gauntlet

Why I read it: Mostly, I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered it. It’s also one of the many series that I own but couldn’t tell you where its currently located. It could be in longboxes at my house, or in the ones in the crawlspace at my mom’s house (yes, I’m in my 30s and still have comics stored in my old bedroom). I think I may have The Infinity Gauntlet in collected form, but I’m not sure where that is either.

What I thought: So, so good. Jim Starlin really does a nice job handling a diverse cast of characters that includes the heroes of Earth, Adam Warlock and his companions and almost all of the heavy hitters from the Marvel cosmic pantheon. The threat is serious from the start, as Thanos already has all of the Infinity Gems in his possession (he’d already gathered them in The Thanos Quest, which is also worth reading), meaning he’s basically all-powerful. Oh, and he casually wipes out half of the living beings in existence as a tribute to his great love, Death.

There are plenty of parallels between this story and DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, which remains my favorite “event” of all time. There’s the recruitment drive, the supposedly knowledgeable figure who may not be all he seems (Adam Warlock = Monitor, in other words), and the way the spotlight falls on some heroes who don’t usually get that much of it. Here I mean Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange, who are both absolutely crucial to the plot.

The big difference is that Crisis played for keeps, killing off Supergirl and Flash for real. In The Infinity Gauntlet, you knew everyone would be back, but the fight scene in issue 3 is still a powerful one. Thanos kills off some of Marvel’s most iconic characters so effortlessly that it’s chilling, and the Surfer missing in his lunge for the gauntlet while only Captain America remains to oppose Thanos is a fantastic “all hope is lost” moment.

(As an aside, just two days into this experiment, Cap seems to have plenty of great moments in event books.)

Mephisto is also at his scheming best, subtly getting Thanos to lower his power levels just as Klaw played mind games with Doom in Secret Wars. The last act swerve with Nebula obtaining the gauntlet is also superb, though the ending always left me a little flat. Thanos retires to become a farmer and everyone else is alright with that just because Warlock says it’s okay? I don’t know.

George Perez is one of my favorite artists ever, and he does some interesting things with layouts that I had forgotten. It was a shame he couldn’t finish the series, but Ron Lim was really in a groove back then and he had quite a bit of experience drawing Silver Surfer and some of the other prominent cast members, so he’s an acceptable choice to finish the story off.

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Infinity War

Why I read it: In contrast to its predecessor, I was anxious to see if this was as disappointing as my memory says it was. I knew it suffered from the time-honored “second part of a trilogy” syndrome; in fact, Starlin may as well just have hung up a “To be continued!” sign at the end like in old school movies or TV shows.

What I thought: Thanos should never be a good guy. Not that he is here, exactly, but he’s fighting alongside the heroes against the Magus, who just isn’t as compelling a villain. He’s the evil side of Adam Warlock, which is explained pretty well, so that’s not the problem. He just doesn’t carry the same menace as Thanos.

Dr. Doom is at least in good from, trying to obtain Magus’ power for himself and seemingly learning nothing from his theft of the Beyonder’s powers once upon a time. Dr. Strange is again a key player, as is the Silver Surfer — Starlin must really like those guys. But they spend way too much of the series simply following the bread crumbs Magus leaves behind.

That’s not as bad as the majority of Earth’s heroes, who are bogged down fighting silly looking duplicates of themselves. The conclusion of Warlock’s plan is simple, but if he had control of one gem all the time, why even let Magus get as far with his plan as he did? There’s some weird logic there that I just don’t get.

Infinity War also had a bunch of tie-ins, but I don’t recall any of them being crucial to understanding the main story. Lim does the art for all six issues, including sweet gatefold covers, and he’s just fine given the huge cast and the ridiculous designs of some of the doubles. Although Mr. Lim, if you did those, um …

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Infinity Crusade

Why I read it: Mostly to finish off the trilogy. As I mentioned before, I’m not completely sure I got this when it came out, and I’m definitely not hunting for it.

What I thought: Oh boy. I could see why Starlin may have been running out of ideas by this point, but this is really weak sauce compared to The Infinity Gauntlet. The Goddess has the weirdest plan yet, getting all the heroes with religious leanings to join her side.

And she’s got 30 Cosmic Cubes. 30! This is a topic that my brothers and I discuss on a semi-regular basis; namely, that there are just too many objects of supreme power in Marvel lore. Are the Infinity Gems collectively more powerful than a Cosmic Cube? Or is one Cube roughly equivalent to the Reality gem? That seems about right, but it’s really up to the writer.

Since the Living Tribunal decided the Infinity Gems couldn’t be used together (that ruling didn’t last though), there needed to be another device for Infinity Crusade, but this is a goofy ending to a trilogy that got off to such a tremendous start.

It’s worth mentioning that if you haven’t read any of these, it might be a good idea to do so before taking in the next wave of Marvel movies, particularly Avengers: Age of Ultron. With Thanos and a version of the Infinity Gems (called the Infinity Stones) already established, the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be headed in a similar direction.

‘Til tomorrow …

Day 2 issues read: 18

Total issues read to date: 39

Tags: Infinity Crusade Infinity Gauntlet Infinity War Marvel Marvel Unlimited

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