Infinity Gauntlet #5
Issue(s): Infinity Gauntlet #5
Note that Epoch is called Eon during the portion of the fight that s/he shared with Galactus and the Stranger.
It seems pretty clear to me that Starlin intended Eon to be in this story all along, and the name was quickly changed to reflect the fact that Eon has been replaced by Epoch. Previous displays of Epoch's name look like they may have been re-scripted, and on top of that, it was already noticeable that there was no attempt to show Epoch looking smaller or acting inexperienced in any way. The slip-up here, calling her Eon, just confirms it.
While the fight is going on, we check around with some other characters. Adam Warlock and Silver Surfer hang on at the edge of the conflagration. Warlock is in contact with Dr. Strange back on Earth, and he asks Strange to use his mystic powers to locate as many of Earth's fallen heroes as he can for "later retrieval".
We also see that Starfox and Nebula avoid becoming collateral damage during the cosmic battle thanks to Death. Interestingly, Starfox attributes Death's action to her deep hatred of Thanos.
The situation on Earth, meanwhile, is pretty dire. Thanks to the planet getting knocked out of orbit, Earth has entered an ice age. On top of that, a dimensional distortion has opened a wormhole that Annihilus and his forces pour out of.
Confirming Death's hatred of Thanos, or at least demonstrating that she doesn't believe Thanos should have ultimate power, she joins the fight with the other cosmic beings.
And we can see Thanos almost giving in to despair at that point. If you've read the Korvac saga, this is the moment where Korvac sees that Carina is against him too.
But Thanos rallies, and uses his powers to freeze all the cosmic beings, and he also clears his mind (or tries to).
One cosmic entity held back during the previous fight, and he arrives now.
We switch away to the Surfer and Warlock. Warlock knows that even this fight will end in Thanos' victory. Thanos will only lose if he subconsciously wants to.
And that is, and has always been, the point of this story. Thanos at this point makes the fatal mistake of abandoning his body and ascending to godhood. The husk he leaves behind certainly looks depressed.
The actual Thanos is looking like Eternity now. The Watcher says that he's "thoroughly usurped Eternity's rightful position as the center of all reality in this sphere".
But Thanos has done this before. When he had the Cosmic Cube, he ascended in essentially the same way, leaving behind the Cube to be destroyed by Captain Marvel. In this case, he's leaving the Infinity Gauntlet behind, to be taken by Nebula. Starlin makes that connection explicit.
So she grabs the gauntlet.
And guess who has cosmic omnipotence now?
She sends Thanos into the depths of space, leaving him to float helplessly. Terraxia, not built to survive in outer space, dies.
I think it's important to emphasize that Starlin is deliberately calling back to the Cosmic Cube story. Starlin has established a pattern for Thanos, showing that he always sows the seeds of his own defeat. In my opinion, Starlin got a little too close to hitting us over the head with that message in Infinity Gauntlet #3, when he had the Vision comment on it, but it does seem necessary. Without understanding that piece of it, this is a story about a villain that loses due to an unforced error, and if you're watching this story only from the perspective of the heroes, that's pretty unsatisfying. But there's a reason why this is happening with a third of issue #5 and all of issue #6 still to go. This story isn't about "how do the villains beat Thanos?". It's about Thanos as a character. If we accept, as we must, that Thanos subconsciously wanted Nebula to rid him of the Gauntlet, then the question is why? And the answer is that Death finally very clearly rejected him. As mentioned about, there are shades of the Korvac Saga in that. But unlike the relationship between Michael Korvac and Carina, there's no sane reason why we would expect that Death would reciprocate Thanos' feelings towards her. As we've seen throughout this series, Death has been at best aloof towards Thanos. So what's this all about? More next issue. For now, we do have the menace of Nebula to deal with.
To that end, Dr. Strange pulls Thanos from space to his house, resulting in a brief fight between him and the Surfer.
Dr. Strange brings in the reserve team that he's been collecting (in Doctor Strange #34-35) to split them up.
Warlock then takes Thanos aside and goes over some of what i discussed above, promising to give Thanos some insights into himself if he'll aid them against Nebula.
Meanwhile, Nebula is struggling to deal with her sudden omnipotence.
(The above narration accidentally reminds me that, like Infinity, Oblivion is another seemingly powerful cosmic entity that is absent here.)
But by the time the heroes are ready to attack, Nebula says that her mind has cleared.
The surviving heroes are once again sent in as cannon fodder.
Nebula says that two of the characters sent against her are "old foes".
That would be Firelord and Thor. As noted in the Comments, i guess Nebula doesn't detect that the "Thor" in question is different than the one she fought in Avengers #314-318. (I had forgotten that Thor was in Nebula's arc, so at first i thought this was a mistaken reference to Avengers #295-297, which has been retconned to not be Nebula.)
After the heroes are easily dispatched, the second team arrives. Note that Nebula is unable to see Adam Warlock.
Next issue continues directly, but i'll pause here to cover a tie-in that occurs during this issue.
One final semi-random observation: I think Starlin's use of Nebula in this story is interesting. Starlin seems to take umbrage at others using "his" characters. This will become more evident in later years. But i've wondered what Starlin thought of Roger Stern's use of the legacy of Thanos and the introduction of Nebula during his Avengers run. When Thanos laughs off the possibility that Nebula is his granddaughter in Silver Surfer #38, it seems like that could have been Starlin's way of dismissing Nebula. But i noted in that entry that Starlin didn't simply kill her off, and she's used prominently here. I guess regardless of Starlin's personal feelings, i like that he's using other people's contributions to the Marvel universe during Infinity Gauntlet. It makes the story seem more than just a return to Starlin's 70s work; it makes the story 'bigger'.
Quality Rating: A
Chronological Placement Considerations: Dr. Strange #35-36 take place during this issue, with Strange searching for the heroes that were lost during last issue's fight with Thanos. Similar situation for Hulk #383. Silver Surfer #59 expands on the scene of the Silver Surfer getting outraged when Thanos arrives at Dr. Strange's house.
Crossover: Infinity Gauntlet
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (6): show
I like the idea that the big four cosmic beings sort of split up the two different crises going on at the time: Eternity and Death were involved in the Thanos affair, while Infinity and Maelstrom were handling the Maelstrom side of things.
Posted by: Thanos6 | October 12, 2015 11:51 AM
Infinity and Oblivion. Damn it.
Posted by: Thanos6 | October 12, 2015 12:40 PM
Quasar was not using the Captain Marvel look-alike costume anymore by the time he met Epoch, yet that is the one he uses in previous issues of Infinity Gauntlet. It looks Quasar and IG were not well coordinated with each other.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 12, 2015 2:53 PM
Was there supposed to be more about Annihilus during the Infinity Gauntlet? I vaguely remember reading a preview of Infinity Gauntlet in real time (in a New England Comics catalog, or American Comics catalog). It said something about Thanos getting the Gauntlet and killing have the universe, with Anihilus attacking what's left of earth. As far as I can tell, those few panels of Annihilus are the only mention of him as far as infinity Gauntlet is concerned.
Posted by: Tabe8 | October 12, 2015 2:56 PM
Not that this would affect your placement, but were it not for the hastily-rewritten references to Epoch instead of Eon, and the later retcon to justify Quasar's use of his old costume, would it be possible for Infinity Gauntlet to take place before, or possibly overlapping with, the Maelstrom saga, with it really being Eon that appears in IG? Obviously Quasar's "not again" reaction to losing his hands last issue limits the degree to which one could do that...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | October 12, 2015 4:20 PM
Well, there is also the fact that Thanos appears with Mephisto on his monument to Death in Quasar #24, and that monument isn't created until Infinity Gauntlet #1, so at best the series have to overlap no matter what. (And that being the case, Captain America #329 must overlap as well, for what it is worth.)
Posted by: fnord12 | October 12, 2015 4:27 PM
...And I just read the Sleepwalker #7 entry, which led me to re-read the Quasar #26-27 entry, and which further suggests how intertwined the Maelstrom saga and IG must be...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | October 12, 2015 4:43 PM
I always wondered about Annihilus in this issue too. It seems like such an odd thing to throw into the issue if it's not a plot point somewhere.
Posted by: Bill | October 12, 2015 6:24 PM
Nebula previously fought Thor in Avengers #314-318.
Posted by: Steven | October 13, 2015 1:16 AM
Shouldn't the gauntlet have been rigged to strangle Nebula, as it was for Mephisto when he tried to take it from an unconscious Thanos in the Silver Surfer book?
Posted by: Bob | October 13, 2015 2:07 AM
@Steven: that wasn't Eric-Thor, though. It all comes down to whether Nebula partes Eric-Thor as the same as regular flavor Thor.
@Bob: as I understand it, the point is that Thanos will not take the necessary precautions to avoid being defeated, because deep down he does not want to triumph.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | October 13, 2015 6:53 AM
@Steven - i had forgotten that Thor was featured in Byrne's Nebula story. Thanks, for pointing that out.
As Luis says, this isn't the same "Thor", but that's much more easily explained than when i thought she was referring to Simonson's Nebula story.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 13, 2015 7:21 AM
I don't want to spoil anything for anyone but when we find out where Thor was really imprisoned, it makes sense that Nebula referred to Eric as an "old foe".
Posted by: Michael | October 15, 2015 8:26 PM
A vast improvement on #4. I remember the first time I read it and thinking, okay, we just saw this last issue, but the larger scale use of Thanos is part of what makes this issue so good. As fnord says, this whole series is really about Thanos as a character.
Posted by: Erik Beck | January 12, 2016 11:41 AM
My No-Prize explanation on the Epoch/Eon situation: Epoch petitioned Anthropomorpho for a copy of her father's body along with the experience and wisdom it holds in order to stand a chance against Thanos.
Posted by: D09 | February 27, 2017 5:38 PM
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