Friday, December 07, 2007

Hello Cosmic Part 10: The Infinity War Part Two

[A continuation in my look at Jim Starlin's cosmic work for Marvel. In this post, I conclude my look at The Infinity War with The Infinity War #4-6 and Warlock & The Infinity Watch #9-11. Posts in this series are published every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.]

First off, I love the cover to Infinity War #4 (what is it with issue four of these series as I loved the cover to Infinity Gauntlet #4 as well?). Sorry about the small size as this was the only pic I could find of the whole cover and my scanner isn't big enough to scan the entire gatefold cover:

Heroes versus doppelgangers. I loved that stuff so much as a kid. I spent hours just looking over these issues, studying the evil versions of the heroes, watching which hero fought which doppelganger... I've always loved alternate realities/futures and evil versions of characters we know.

The story continues and we find out what the Magus' plan was: force Warlock to gather the Infinity Gems and appeal to the Living Tribunal that they must be allowed to work together again to save the universe. Except, when Thanos and Gamorra go to the Living Tribunal, Adam is kidnapped by the Magus, so when Eternity agrees to drop his appeal against the use of the gauntlet, the Magus is the one with the power. Oops.

Ultimately, it comes down to the Magus and Adam as Adam places his hand on the gauntlet, sharing the power. The two battle until Warlock reveals the truth about the universe as Eternity is joined with Infinity and, somehow, the Magus is defeated. He ends up in the Soul Gem, but because he is merely an aspect of Warlock, he is a ghost there, unable to communicate or touch any of the other inhabitants. Warlock is left comatose. But, the universe is saved. Except, the good side of Warlock is still out there as the last page of the series shows us. Dun dun DUN!

The entire doppelganger plot as well as the actions of the heroes and Galactus are basically useless. They are pawns and distractions, padding the plot. In this way, Starlin does an interesting trick of decompressing the core story, but does so by throwing in several other plots, something more contemporary writers don't do. They take the main plot (here being Warlock and Thanos versus the Magus), stretch it out, but add nothing else to fill it in. Starlin passes off a small story about a man confronting his own evil nature as a giant, cosmic, intercompany crossover by throwing in every character he can think to--but they do nothing of consequence. I know I'm repeating myself, but I find it so amazing how well he does this.

The Infinity Watch issues here again fill in some blanks. In issue nine, Gamorra travels inside Eternity as a pawn of Galactus and we get some background on her upbringing by Thanos--and see a side of Thanos we don't often see. Issue ten features Thanos battling his doppelganger, which is just a lot of fun. They fight, they scheme, they fight again and, ultimately, Thanos turns his doppelganger into a butterfly and eats him, gaining new insights and knowledge about himself in the process. While the doppelganger isn't a direct outcropping of him as the Magus is of Adam Warlock, we get some foreshadowing of the end of the story here as Warlock, presumably, does the same thing (except he "swallows" Magus in the Soul Gem).

Issue 11 acts as epilogue to the story and an introduction to the Infinity Watch. Eternity and the Living Tribunal examine the case of the Infinity Gems and if the decision to keep them inactive when brought together is a good one. Nothing of real interest here if you know the characters, but a good place for newbies to get caught up.

In this story (and The Infinity War), Starlin furthers the mystery of the possessor of the Reality Gem where hints are given, but no name. Warlock has possession of it when they need to reform the gauntlet and Thanos is surprised. Eternity thinks the possessor is a horrible choice, but one that will keep it safe--that is, if he doesn't abuse it.

My biggest complaint about this story is the way in which the Magus is defeated. The revelation of Eternity/Infinity being two sides of the same coin, merged and showing itself/themselves is supposed to come off as profound and meaningful, but doesn't do a whole lot for me. Magus thinks he's stopped Eternity, but Eternity is bigger than the Magus thought and, therefore, he's fucked. Except, why didn't this revelation happen before this? Like when Thanos defeated Eternity in The Infinity Gauntlet and actually took his place? It makes sense, but seems too deus ex machina for my taste.

Next week, we return to Warlock & The Infinity Watch by itself briefly before jumping into the largest (and worst) of the "Infinity Crossovers": The Infinity Crusade.