Infinity War #1
Issue(s): Infinity War #1
The art in this series is by Ron Lim, who took over for George Perez about halfway through Infinity Gauntlet. But inks are by Al Milgrom this time, and, whether for that reason or not, the art is not as strong. Storywise, this is still a Jim Starlin comic. As with Infinity Gauntlet, and maybe even more so, the story works best if you sort of ignore the regular Marvel heroes and focus on Starlin's characters and maybe a few others. In fact, the characters themselves acknowledge that what's going on with the Marvel heroes is a sideshow to the plot. One top of that, the story suffers from something that a lot of modern super-hero movies suffer from, which is spending too much time setting up other stories instead of focusing on the actual plot of the series. In the case of movies, that means setting up for other movies, but in this case it's about creating the hand-offs for the tie-ins. And the tie-ins themselves are pretty much entirely unnecessary. If all of that had been trimmed, this might have been a really great story about the same length as Thanos Quest. It's still a decent story in and of itself, and it's a fun crossover overall, but the fact that it comes so soon after Gauntlet and with so many tie-ins contributes to a sense of crossover fatigue (in a year that also had Operation: Galactic Storm, X-Cutioner's Song, etc.).
It's also worth noting that the X-books do not have any tie-ins. X-characters appear in this story, but (as with Gauntlet), they don't have any tie-in books. The main Avengers books don't have tie-ins, but some solo Avengers (Captain America, Wonder Man, Quasar) do. The Fantastic Four were absent from Infinity Gauntlet but they do have tie-ins here, and Mr. Fantastic (or, rather, something that happens to him) plays a key role early in this story.
Issues were $2.50 and 40 pages each (same price and page count as Gauntlet), and each had a three page wrap-around gatefold cover by Lim and Milgrom.
The story starts with two Thanoses. One in his traditional outfit, and one looking as we've seen him since he lost the Infinity Gauntlet and retired to a rural existence. The traditionally dressed one plays a kind of peek-a-boo with the other, something that will continue throughout this series. The rural Thanos, who is the real one, does not pursue the duplicate.
The real Thanos has detected some unusual energy patterns, and he determines that the universe is in grave peril. So he takes back his costume from the scarecrow that he hung it on, and goes to investigate.
Meanwhile, several earth heroes are attacked by evil duplicates.
We see Wolverine and Spider-Man defeat their duplicates. Iron Man is defeated by his, and he's seemingly absorbed by his duplicate, which turns into some kind of tentacled thing.
We only see the back of the head of the winner of the Mr. Fantastic fight, and later Mr. Fantastic has a video conference with just about all of Earth's heroes, summoning them to Four Freedoms Plaza.
Meanwhile, Galactus comes across Eternity, and finds that he's catatonic.
Thanos's search also leads him to Eternity, and from there he follows an energy trail that he finds "strangely familiar. But not familiar enough to elicit an exact memory". He then spots his duplicate again, but it again disappears. The trail leads Thanos to a floating castle in space that reminds Thanos of his own such space island, the tribute to Death that he created for Infinity Gauntlet.
Inside, Thanos finds power readings "just short of the levels of the Infinity Gauntlet". And then he encounters the Magus, the dark side of Adam Warlock, along with his doppelganger again.
Thanos and Magus engage in some verbal sparring (note the references to "reality", and also Magus referring to the "Thanos I knew of old").
If there was any thought of an alliance between them, the conversation doesn't end that way...
...and Thanos is confronted by doppelgangers of more of Earth's heroes.
Thanos teleports away, eventually winding up at the Mole Man's Monster Island, where Adam Warlock is concluding negotiations to set up a headquarters for his Infinity Watch.
The other thread in this issue involves Dr. Doom detecting the same energies as Thanos, and forming an alliance with Kang to go after them.
This should have been one of the cooler parts of the crossover, but it's ruined by the very cheesy old school device of giving both villains thought bubbles in every scene that they appear in about how they're going to betray each other at the first opportunity. I always hate that sort of thing, and that fact that Starlin saw fit to do it in every issue, along with the fact that it's also repeated in every tie-in that they appear in, makes it especially annoying.
But besides that, this is a good set-up issue. Not a lot more to say at this point. I do like that the energy threat that Thanos detects is not quite as much as Infinity Gauntlet. The obvious thing to do with a sequel is a "ZOMG, this is even more powerful than the Gauntlet!" type of thing. Instead the cosmic artifact(s) used here is less powerful, and Thanos makes note of the fact that the Magus is using it (actually, them) with the aid of machinery, instead of directly. There are obviously some direct recalls to the first series, like Magus' asteroid base, but as we'll see the threat here isn't just about a villain gaining godlike powers again.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Several other comics take place during this issue. The scene with the Mr. Fantastic doppelganger speaking to the various super-hero groups is repeated in Alpha Flight #109 and Wonder Man #12 (oddly, in this issue there's a footnote for only the Alpha Flight issue). Thanos' arrival at Monster Island is repeated in Warlock and the Infinity Watch #7. And, while it's not explicit, the doppelganger attacks in Captain America #408 must happen prior to the gathering of the heroes in this issue. Deathlok #16 also takes place around the time of this issue; Deathlok misses the call from the Mr. Fantastic doppelganger due to the events in his book. Additionally, Fantastic Four #366 and Spider-Man #24 expand on their respective doppelganger attacks shown here. Galactus' decision to enlist the help of Dr. Strange continues in Doctor Strange #42 and runs through that book and Silver Surfer's series, in parallel to this crossover.
For the characters that don't have Infinity War tie-ins, i'll note any relevant considerations in their own books' entries. Otherwise, the characters can appear during any break in their series.
Regarding the listing of the doppelgangers: for the most part i won't be listing them as characters. There are a few that have relevance during this series: the Thanos doppelganger, who is a lackey to Magus throughout the story, and the Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man doppelgangers, who have secretly replaced the real characters, and so it is worth listing them if only to avoid confusion ("Why isn't Mr. Fantastic listed...?"). There are also at least two doppelgangers that remain as regular characters after the conclusion of the War: the Spider-Man doppelganger (aka Doppelganger), and Hellspawn, the Daredevil doppelganger. In the case of Hellspawn it seems that the MCP has listed multiple Daredevil doppelgangers and credited none of them as Hellspawn, instead listing Daredevil annual #9 as his first appearance. It's true that there can be multiple versions of each doppelganger, but i think at least some of them should be listed as the one that eventually becomes Hellspawn. The doppelgangers don't really die, they just re-spawn, so unless there's anything that contradicts it, i'll be listing all Daredevil doppelgangers as Hellspawn.
Finally, a note on the Magus. Even though it's remarked upon that it should be impossible, it's nonetheless acknowledged that the Magus that appears here is the same one that appeared in the 1970s Warlock stories. So i'm using the same character tag for both incarnations of the character.
Crossover: Infinity War
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (12): show
I picked up this first issue of Infinity War. Didn't like it so I didn't pick up any others. I'm trying to remember what, if any, tie-in issues I had and I'm not coming up with anything. Latter half of '92 was a rough year for me, though, so I don't think there's going to be much going forward in this year that I had at the time, outside of maybe Thor and Amazing.
Posted by: Robert | March 30, 2016 3:30 PM
One thing this series instilled in me was a love of villains with labyrinthine, ludicrously complicated schemes.
fnord, I don't see the Thanos doppleganger (or Shade Thanos, as he's sometimes called) listed. Also, you have both "Daredevil doppleganger" and "Hellspawn" listed separately. I'm not at all familiar with the character; is that a mistake, or is there a reason for listing them both separately?
Posted by: Thanos6 | March 30, 2016 4:55 PM
Thanks, Thanos. Fixed the character listings.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 30, 2016 5:07 PM
Waiiiit a minute. This Magus is the same as the one from the 70s? Where do they say that? I thought it was clear that this one -- just the purged 'evil' portion of Adam Warlock's psyche, and not a whole entity himself -- is distinct from the 70s one, which was just Adam Warlock plus time.
Posted by: Andrew F | March 30, 2016 5:38 PM
The Wiki entry on Adam Warlock states that this isn't the same Magus -
"When Warlock acquires the Infinity Gauntlet, he expels good and evil from his soul, unintentionally giving them corporeal forms. The evil half names himself the Magus and attempts to gain the Infinity Gauntlet for himself. He fails, and Warlock traps him in the Soul Gem."
Posted by: CLYDE | March 30, 2016 6:09 PM
Andrew, i'll talk about that more in upcoming issues, but the MCP does have a single issue for Magus that includes his 70s appearances and these.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 30, 2016 6:09 PM
I remember liking Infinity War as teenager when it first came out, but I recently reread both Infinity Gauntlet and this, and it really is inferior to its predecessor (which isn't perfect either) in every way.
The biggest problem is that's it's really a shaggy dog story: as we find out in the final issue, the villain never has a chance to win. And of course this is because Starlin's two pet characters, Warlock and Thanos, are soooo clever that they anticipate Magus' every move. Starlin has alway been guilty of glorifying his own characters over others, but it's especially blatant here. The other heroes don't matter at all, they're used as literal cannon fodder. So there's really no reason why this story needs to be a crossover, it should've simply been a Warlock & the Infinity Watch arc with no other heroes involved. At least that way Starlin's favouritism wouldn't have been so irritating,
And speaking of pointless crossovers, even as a teenager I realized that the doppelgangers were a shameless way of having more Infinity Wars tie-ins in other books without them amounting to anything else but generic fight scenes. Of course commercial concerns and the impulse to sell as many tie-ins as possible are always there when talking about superhero crossovers, but it's particularly transparent and crass here.
Also, what could've been the coolest part of the whole story, Doom and Kang's secret counter-plan against Magus, turns out to be a shaggy dog story too. (I agree with Fnord that their old-school villain thought bubbles are a bit irritating, but their subplot is still the most interesting part of the crossover, because it's not just Starlin shilling his own characters.) Ultimately, it amounts to nothing. Admittedly, having Doom steal Magus' power source would've felt like a rehash of Secret Wars, but it would've been cool if Kang actually came on top of that fight. Having Kang as the ultimate villain would've been a more interesting plot development than what we got now. Magus was always kinda boring, even in the 70s, he's just your generic evil despot.
Posted by: Tuomas | March 31, 2016 4:51 AM
My favourite part of this series were the quips/ thought balloons between Kang and Doom. Starlin got the humour right in this series moreso than Gauntlet, IMAO;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | March 31, 2016 6:28 AM
@Tuomas - Agreed one hundred percent.
Even though I read both Infinity War and Infinity Crusade, I really did not enjoy them, and the first chance I had I unloaded both miniseries on Ebay. I really got so sick of Jim Starlin continually telling us that Thanos was so cool & amazing & dangerous & powerful & smart & cunning, and so too is Adam Warlock... but not nearly as much as Thanos! I was annoyed that nearly every character in the Marvel universe showed up just so that they cool all look like ineffectual idiots just to prop up Thanos and Warlock.
This is, by the way, why I have refused to buy any subsequent Marvel stories by Starlin that feature Thanos. Each and every time Starlin inevitably has to go out of his way to make Thanos the greatest character ever.
If I had been somewhat older and more insightful I would have really seen this coming a mile away after Infinity Gauntlet, where it was revealed that the only reason why Thanos has ever been defeated is because he subconsciously did not think that he was worthy of godhood, and so he allowed himself to fail without realizing it. Translation: Thanos is so awesome that the only character who can possibly defeat him is himself!
Skimming through fnord's overview of this first issue, my eyes repeatedly glazed over. Wow, I really just don not care about this miniseries at all.
I find it EXTREMELY ironic that Marvel Studios is making a two movie version of Infinity War. It's probably going to be VERY different from the comic book version, since here the Avengers are reduced to glorified cannon fodder / bystanders.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 31, 2016 2:05 PM
Still waiting on an omnibus release of this. It remains a chore of a wait.
Mostly just want an omnibus for the oversized Lim artwork and the Quasar issues.
Starlin should've stopped after Infinity Gauntlet and kept these stories to Infinity Watch (then maybe more people would've actually read that series and it could have a much better and steady artist in Ron Lim?).
Posted by: AF | March 31, 2016 2:09 PM
Man, I thought Infinity Gauntlet was a paycheck comic and a waste of what Starlin used to be - you can imagine that I didn't even look at the paycheck follow-ups.
Posted by: BU | March 31, 2016 2:13 PM
As fnord brought up in Gauntlet, the problem with the Infinity trilogy is not so much on Starlin, but 90s-era Marvel brass insisting on taking story arcs that might have fit just fine in Silver Surfer or Infinity Watch and turning them into massive line-wide crossovers, so the people brought in through the crossover format can't help but be disappointed when the familiar characters are reduced to cannon fodder. Of course, that's not necessarily strictly the case with War and Crusade, but only because they owe their entire existence to the greedy Marvel brass looking to cash in on Gauntlet's popularity.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | March 31, 2016 2:16 PM
Even as Silver Surfer or Infinity Watch stories, these are nothing but writing up his pet.
I mean, look at how relevant Silver Surfer was to Infinity Gauntlet or how everyone on the Infinity Watch bar Warlock/Thanos is to these stories.
And then we'll eventually start getting to his petty "any Thanos not written by me doesn't count" retcons...
Posted by: AF | March 31, 2016 2:31 PM
How come Captain America is hanging out with the Avengers when the Mr. Fantastic doppelganger called? Isn't he on break from the Avengers, post-Galactic Storm at this point? Just a case of artistic license to make things easier on Lim?
Posted by: Austin Gorton | March 31, 2016 4:49 PM
Two quick observations:
1. I like how Starlin works around Magus' outdated afro without getting rid of it altogether. That hair knot is a very smart design idea :)
2. The scene with Reed calling the various superteams highlights a certain problem: in the 90s, every superteam seamed to have a high-tech HQ with sliding door, metal walls, big monitors etc. Things got sadly... generic in that aspect...
Posted by: Piotr W | March 31, 2016 5:37 PM
Random question I just thought to ask:
Ever since 1992, I've wondered what's up with that weird flag in X-Factor's headquarters. Anyone know?
Posted by: Thanos6 | June 9, 2017 1:51 AM
Ah, the Infinity War -- because spikes are eeeeeeviiilll....
Posted by: Matt | October 11, 2017 12:57 PM
I remember bying it in real time and being really excited about. Granted I just transitioned to American comics and the concept of these crossovers was really cool. Reading it now with the hindsight and extra knowledge of background infos it's a different story.
Posted by: Multiple Manu | December 14, 2017 6:56 AM
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