The first issue of The Infinity Gauntlet, yet another fabulously good miniseries in Marvel’s Secret Wars crossover event, was an exciting thrill ride. Giant insects terrorized a family of survivors in a post-apocalyptic urban wasteland. It is rare that a comicbook leaves me breathless, leaves my heart pounding. This one did.
The second issue transformed the victims, young Anwen and her family (and the family dog), into genuine heroes. When her mother returned from war, Anwen, along with her younger sister, her father, and their dog Zigzag, were forced to step up to the challenge and join the Nova Corps. If the first issue was a giant monster thriller, the second issue was scifi family adventure.
And now, in the latest issue, Dustin Weaver and Gerry Duggan take The Infinity Gauntlet to new heights and show us a little more clearly what this story is all about.
Thanos—the Mad Titan, the Cruel One, the Lord of Death—walks the earth, and his life is intertwined with that of this family of survivors and adventurers.
The idea behind this summer’s incarnation of The Infinity Gauntlet storyline is that the Marvel characters who usually populate the cosmos, who can span light years with each step, who can shape time and reality with a thought—are now Earthbound, or at least Battleworldbound. And the grand quest for the Infinity Stones—a quest across time and space, a quest from star to star—is now a quest across broken urban landscapes and blighted forests.
Joining Thanos and the Nova Corps are characters that should be familiar to anyone who saw last summer’s blockbuster film, Guardians of the Galaxy: Drax the Destroyer, Star-Lord, Gamora and Groot. But the galaxy is not now their home.
Drax discovers the broken and bloody body of Thanos in a rubble-filled passageway beneath the city streets. Thanos, in a cloak all tattered and torn, brings an offering of food to Anwen and her family as they huddle in the forest in a camp without fire. Gamora and Star-Lord steal from fallen military installations. And Groot, Groot stands sleeping and, perhaps, unknowing, in a dead and gray forest.
Weaver’s magnificent cover captures the essence of what unfolds within. Tattered Thanos walks the wasteland with the lost and fearful family. He is their protector and, of course, their greatest threat.
Anwen narrated the tale at the beginning, back in issue #1. Here, we are led along by Thanos himself who travels back in time from a futile future to “destroy the fruitless past”.
“Family is weakness”, Thanos says to himself and to young Anwen. “Family is weakness”, he says as he lays the groundwork for a plan that can only result in more death and destruction. “Family is weakness”, he says, and I believe that he means it. I really do.
In The Infinity Gauntlet Weaver and Duggan retell one of the great Marvel myths, the story of how Death seeks to gain all power, seeks to destroy all life. But they are telling that story not with the cosmic characters, the gods and eternals, who populated Jim Starlin’s original telling, but with human characters, with a family. They are telling that story not against the backdrop of endless space but against the backdrop of a world, a very human world.
“Family is weakness”, Thanos says.
I believe that he means it. I really do.
“This world is without Mercy, Anwen”, the Mad Titan says to the little girl. “I wonder… are you strong enough to make the hard choices? Are you strong enough to walk the earth alone?”
In The Infinity Gauntlet #3 the myth is demythologized, the sacred becomes profane, the transcendent becomes imminent, the cosmic becomes incarnate.
Three issues in and I’m duly impressed. From a horror thrill ride that left my heart racing to a science-fiction family adventure, The Infinity Gauntlet is now on the verge of becoming something much more: a gospel of sorts, a bit of the Word made flesh.
For a story set on a planet called “Battleword”, a story that is part of a summer comicbook crossover event called Secret Wars, a story filled with characters right out of last summer’s light-hearted space-opera blockbuster—that is no mean feat.
Just take a look at that cover. You’ll know what I mean.