Well True Believers, I’m back with another installment of my Marvel Events Series! Today, we are going to be continuing our journey into the 90s, which was a complicated time for comic books. The event ridden 80s had brought new exposure and popularity to the genre, and with that no short amount of expectations for what the new decade will bring. With everything they had done in the 80s, Marvel was a bit under the gun to see if they could continue the momentum they had built. To do that, they brought back a certain Mad Titan who left nothing but destruction in his wake...
Marvel Events Part V: The Infinity Saga
Continuing study of the biggest events in Marvel's long history.
The Thanos Quest
Return of a Madman
Ever since his demise with the destruction of the Cosmic Cube, Thanos had only been seen briefly guiding his archenemy Mar-Vell into the afterlife. Death however, was still intrigued by the Mad Titan, and resurrected him so he could prove himself worthy of her presence by wiping out half the universe (...a good reason... I guess). In order to aid on his quest, he asks Death’s permission to seek out the Infinity Gems. She grants it, and Thanos goes to retrieve them.
One by one, he defeats the guardians of the gems, who happened to be some of the most powerful beings in the universe. Once he obtains all six, he returns to Death’s domain, and tells her (through her servants) that he is now worthy of her presence. However, her servants still do not let him see her, and through them she declares that by possessing the gems he has become omnipotent, and therefore is now superior to her, making HER not worthy to be in HIS presence. Thanos kills the servant, and then stalks towards her throne room, not quite sure what the point of all this was...
The Infinity Gauntlet
Still seeking Death’s approval (dude, seriously, she is just not that into you), Thanos uses the Infinity Gems to create the Infinity Gauntlet, using it to wield seemingly unlimited power. With this new found strength, he wipes out half the population in the Galaxy, including most of the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four. The remaining Earth heroes, including the recently resurrected Adam Warlock, attempt to stop him, but he kills them all, the power of the Gauntlet too much for them. Once there is no one left to stop him, Thanos becomes the living embodiment of the universe (we’re all going to die!!)
Thinking that no one would dare oppose him now, Thanos sheds his physical body, becoming a being of pure energy. However, Nebula, supposedly his granddaughter, finds Thanos’s body, removes the Gauntlet from his hand and dons it herself. Using its power, she undoes everything Thanos did with it, bringing back the heroes he had killed. Together, the heroes ally a host of cosmic entities, and attack Thanos en masse. Through the course of the battle, Adam Warlock manages to take possession of the Gauntlet, and Thanos, horrified at his own defeat, seems to kill himself. Warlock, despite objections from nearly EVERYONE, keeps the Gauntlet so it can be used for the side of good. Later, they find Thanos on a farm by himself, contemplating his failure, and with him seemingly no longer a threat, they leave him be.
Despite his defeat, this event sky-rocketed Thanos to the top echelon of Marvel villains. But this story wasn’t over, not by a long shot, but first we have to make a short detour for a moment with...
Operation Galactic Storm
Avengers in Space!!
Operation Galactic Storm was a sort-of sequel to the famed Kree-Skrull War (See Part III of this series). Captain America and hero Quasar discover a stargate near the Earth’s sun, and investigate to find that it was being used by the Shi’ar and Kree Empires. Soon discovering that the two space Empires were at war, the Avengers decide to act before the sun is destabilized by the stargate. Splitting up into the three teams, one going to the Shi’ar, the other to the Kree, and the third staying on Earth, the Avengers have to move fast before the sun is destabilized and... well you can guess what would happen.
Once they reach their respective destinations, the Avengers enter into a series of conflicts with both Empires. Eventually, they convince the Shi’ar Empress Lilandra to consider a peaceful solution. Soon after, the heroes discover that a group Skrull spies have infiltrated the Shi’ar, sending a massive bomb to Kree space. Lilandra tries to order the ship back, but the Skrulls ignore her, forcing the Avengers to act. But they were too late, the bomb exploding and destroying much of the Kree Empire, the Avengers barely surviving.
After further investigation, the Avengers discover that the Kree Supreme Intelligence manipulated the whole war, the bomb the Skrulls set off intended to jump start the Kree’s natural evolution which the Intelligence felt had stalled prematurely. The Avengers debate on what to do about it, Iron Man insisting that the Intelligence be destroyed, while Captain America argues that it is not their duty to play executioner. They hold a vote, ending in Cap’s favour. Iron Man being a senior member overrules the vote, and leads a team to destroy the Intelligence anyway. They succeed in killing the Intelligence, once the peace had been assured between the two Empires, they return home, Captain America seriously debating the Avengers’ purpose after what they did.
This cross-over was one of the earliest examples of Iron Man and Captain America coming into conflict. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but it was the first time an argument had pushed the limits of their friendship. As well as not being the first time, it wasn’t the last time either, but we’ll get to that.
Evil Takes Hold...
Coming back to the Infinity Saga with its second installment, our story picks up where we left off. Adam Warlock is in possession of the Gauntlet, wishing to wield it to make the universe a better place. However, realizing the danger it poses, Adam decides to purge himself of his good and evil sides in an effort to use the Gauntlet with complete logic (because that is totally the right thing...). Despite this, he is brought before the Living Tribunal, who find him unworthy of the Gauntlet, and willingly relinquishes it to them. Unbeknownst to him but knownst to us, the evil side of his personality, the Magus, had manifested itself when he purged himself, and wanted vengeance on Warlock and Thanos.
To this end, Magus collects five containment units (Cosmic Cubes) and uses the power to incapacitate the entity Eternity. He then creates an alternate reality with doppelgangers of Earth’s superheroes, all under his control. Thanos feels this energy and goes to investigate. Once he discovers what the Magus is doing, goes to warn Warlock, putting aside their mutual hatred for the time being. Galactus and a number of Earth heroes investigate as well, and manage to revive Eternity. Eternity goes to the Living Tribunal in an attempt to reactivate the Gauntlet so Magus can be stopped. In order to distract them Magus launches an attack on Earth that the heroes are barely able to repel. Afterwards, they then track down Magus to his base, along with Thanos and Quasar.
A massive battle ensues, resulting in Warlock and Magus fighting over the Gauntlet, which thanks to Eternity becomes fully active. Warlock eventually wins, and uses the Gauntlet to absorb Magus into the Soul Gem, putting himself in a coma at the same time. The Cosmic Cubes powering Magus’s base also go missing, but no one knows who took them and why. It is revealed later that the good side of Adam Warlock’s soul, the Goddess, is revealed to have stolen the Cosmic Cubes from Magus, aiding in his defeat.
Seems like its over doesn’t it? Sadly, this story has only just begun...
Old Enemies, New Mysteries
While the galaxy was recovering from Infinity War, the X-Men were actually getting a break for once. No major crisis erupting, no one trying to kill them, no people from the future disrupting reality (Rachel, Bishop and Cable came to help, don’t start on that), and they could relax for a little bit. All that changed when Charles Xavier is shot with a Techno-Virus and sent into a comatose state, apparently by Cable! Soon thereafter, Iceman and Colossus are attacked by War and Famine from Apocalypse’s Horsemen, serving a distraction for Caliban to kidnap Jean Grey and Cyclops. They are brought to Mr. Sinister, who is impersonating Apocalypse, and he then trades them with the mysterious Stryfe.
The X-Men set out with X-Factor to search for Cable’s X-Force team. X-Force however had been separated from Cable, and didn’t know where he was. The two sides distrust each other, and come to blows, X-Force eventually captured and taken back the mansion. Soon after, Sinister double-crossed Stryfe, informing the X-Men Stryfe was the shooter, not Cable, and X-Force was exonerated.
The X-Men split up at that point, the Blue Team, X-Factor, Boom Boom and Cannonball, going after the Mutant Liberation Front, defeating them handily despite Rogue being blinded. Wolverine and Bishop find Cable (both unaware of Sinister’s visit to the mansion), and after a short fight decide to work with him to stop Stryfe. The Gold Team, along with Quicksilver, go to a severely weakened Apocalypse to find out how to cure Xavier. Apocalypse refuses, enraged that someone has been impersonating him, but before he can do anything he is attacked by Archangel. He barely escapes with his life, only to run into Stryfe, who also tries to kill him. Apocalypse manages to escape, seeking asylum with the X-Men in return for curing Xavier.
Once Xavier is cured, the X-Teams rally and head into space to stop Stryfe once and for all. They head to Stryfe’s base, only to be knocked out by a force field, leaving Cable and Stryfe to battle alone. Cable is outmatched, but soon Scott and Jean break free, helping Cable push Stryfe back. At Cable’s request, Cyclops activates a time vortex, apparently killing he and Stryfe to end the conflict. Jean and Scott realize that either one or the other might have been their son Nathan, but with both dead, it was impossible to be sure.
This event was intended to be the vehicle to finally reveal Cable’s origins as well as bringing back Magneto, but due to editorial differences, both were delayed for the time being. The seeds were sown for both however, along with the beginning of Apocalypse’s march back to prominence.
The Infinity Crusade
Good Takes Control...
The final Chapter of the Infinity Saga, Infinity Crusade starts off with the good part of Adam Warlock’s personality, the Goddess, who stole the Cosmic Cubes from the Magus’s base during the climax of the Infinity War. Seeing their potential, she sets out to collect more, gathering thirty together and creating a Cosmic Egg capable of fulfilling wishes (this isn’t going to end well). The Goddess then creates her own planet called Paradise Omega, but instead of just inviting people over for tea (they never do), she kidnaps and brainwashes many of Earth’s heroes to use as servants. Once at Paradise Omega, they are charged with protecting the Goddess while she searches for a way to destroy all evil in the universe (anyone else see the irony here?)
Mister Fantastic, Iron Man and Vision soon notice their friends haven’t called in a while, and search for them, eventually finding Paradise Omega. After being attacked by the brainwashed heroes, they retreat to Earth and contact Professor X. Xavier attempts to use his telepathy to speak with Moondragon, but it put into a coma by a telepathic attack. The Goddess then turns her attention to Thanos, and sends her heroes to kill him. The Mad Titan is nearly overwhelmed, but is saved by Adam Warlock. The two are then approached by Mephisto, who offers them the knowledge of how to defeat the Goddess in exchange for one of the Cosmic Cubes. Seeing no other choice, they agree.
Gathering what heroes of Earth that remain, they head to Paradise Omega and engage in a massive battle with the Goddess’s forces. During the conflict, Goddess discerns that the only way to eliminate evil is to wipe out all sentient life from the universe. Before anyone can stop her, she uses the Cosmic Egg to do just that... or so it seemed. This was an illusion created by Warlock, exposing her intentions to her army to break their brainwashing. The heroes rally, Thanos, Professor X and Warlock striking at her on the spiritual plane in order to defeat her. Once she is weakened, Warlock absorbs her into the Soul Gem like he had with Magus, and the universe is saved once again.
Thanos destroys the Cosmic Egg after the heroes return home, then takes the remaining Cube to Mephisto as agreed. The Cube however is powerless, Thanos decreeing that Mephisto never specified that the Cube should be in working order. Devious little bastard isn’t he?
The Infinity Saga put Thanos on the map as a major player in the Marvel Universe, as well as creating of comic books most spanning and destruction ridden story arcs. It also revitalized Adam Warlock, and created some of the most exciting, mind-blowing battles in the history of comic books. The events that happened in between were thrilling as well, helping redefine both the Avengers and the X-Men respectively, and make us start questioning what heroes should or should not become to save the world.
Marvel started off the 90s with a series of big bangs, but if you thought this stuff was crazy, wait until you see what I’ve got lined up for next time! Until then True Believers, HAPPY READING!