Way before ‘Endgame’ : A look back at Marvel’s original ‘Infinity Saga’
Dillon Begley | Wednesday, February 5, 2020
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the comic-book world. Even so, I did not always find myself engaged in reading the actual comic books and graphic-novels themselves. Unlike those who are primarily absorbed in the printed and original comic stories, I have been just as consistently passionate about, and intrigued by, the worlds of superheroes — because of this, I would say that I have much more knowledge than the more casual or uncaring fan.
With all of that said, I was recently thinking about the fact that I now have a collection of my own comic-book graphic novels. Sure, my collection is probably smaller than many others of its kind, but it is a collection nonetheless. So, I figured, why not read or re-read some of my comics? That way, I could share some of my experiences, personal opinions and personal recommendations. As you probably know by now (or you wouldn’t have read this far) I am starting with the original source material for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Infinity Saga.”
Titled “The Infinity Gauntlet,” this collection of comics has had a particular influence on the world of popular culture, especially considering recent films like “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” The first “Infinity Saga” in Marvel Comics dates back all the way to the early 1990s. “The Infinity Gauntlet,” a six-issue series of comics, was fully completed and published in December of 1991. That was seven years before I was even born! And in spite of that, this comic is perhaps more popular now than it’s ever been. Its longevity can be attributed, in part, to the growing prevalence superhero stories in the film industry, as well as an increased social acceptance of fantasy and “comic-book-like” media in general.
This comic is an easy, quick and enjoyable read. It has clearly become a source for many modern retellings in film. Naturally, Thanos, Doctor Strange and the Infinity Stones having always been at the forefront of the story. However, characters like Iron-Man, Captain America and most of the movie’s Avengers aren’t nearly as important in this original version; far more prevalent are the Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock and Mistress Death, who are likely less well-known within the non-comic-loving population. This doesn’t mean that the story itself suffers. Its essential premise is the same as are its themes and core message: that power corrupts absolutely.
The novel was written well and contains the same humor, wit and seriousness one can find in any current Marvel movie. Thanos is just as diabolical — and as perversely sympathetic — as he was in the recent film. Writer Jim Starlin’s clearly inspired the directors and writers of “Avengers: Endgame” with his characterization of Thanos, as seen in lines of dialogue such as, “As always, Thanos will stand triumphant.” Without his example, they might never have conceived of the catchy (and meme-able) phrase, “I am inevitable.” Furthermore, the inclusion of characters like Adam Warlock, the Silver Surfer and Mistress Death, while it probably wouldn’t have worked on the big-screen today, was a smart decision in the 1990s, since it made the story more “comic-like” and accurate for die-hard fans.
Besides being well-written, this novelization is also noteworthy due to the fantastic story at its core. To summarize without spoiling anything, the Mad Titan, Thanos, is the central villain. The story revolves around his possession of the all powerful Infinity Stones, each of which controls one aspect of the universe: space, time, reality, power, mind and soul. With his newfound omnipotence, Thanos has the power either to destroy or to enslave the universe. The only people standing in his way, so to speak, are the mightiest of Earth’s heroes and villains, all teaming up to save themselves from the Mad Titan.
But the biggest distinction between comics and other novelizations however is the level of illustration. Chief illustrator George Pérez does not disappoint with his drawings, making this collection a wonderfully illustrated early entry in the modern age of comics. The older style of the drawings may be off-putting for some, but I found it refreshing.
At the very least, most people have heard of this story due to the popularity of Marvel Entertainment (and of movies like “Infinity War”). If you want to know how things played out in the source material, then I would not hesitate to pick this up and see for yourself. Additionally, I would recommend it to those who enjoy comics and, specifically, to individuals who prefer the Marvel Universe. It contains plenty of great plot and dialogue without too much fighting, and it is a blast to see so many characters together in one event.
Created by: Jim Starlin, George Pérez
Original U.S. Release Date: December 1991
If you like: Marvel Comics, the Marvel movie franchise
Score: 4.5/5 Shamrocks