The Infinity War saga is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to Starbucks, but that’s just peanuts to Infinity War, which includes:
The Infinity Crusade vol 1 & 2
The Infinity Watch vol 1 &2
The majority of the central saga was penned by Jim Starlin and drawn/colored by various artists, most notably Ron Lim.
Crossover issues from other series important to the saga are: Alpha Flight #110–112, Captain America #408, Daredevil #310, Deathlok #16, Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #42–47, Fantastic Four #366–370, Guardians of the Galaxy vol 1 #27–29, Marc Spector: Moon Knight #41–44, Marvel Comics Presents #108–111, New Warriors #27, Nomad vol. 2 #7, Quasar #38–40, Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #4–5, Silver Surfer vol. 3 #67–69, Sleepwalker #18, Spider-Man #24, and Wonder Man #13–14. The event took place between July and November of 1992 and it was a Big Deal.
But Shiri, you may be thinking, was it really an event? I mean, these crossover things happen all the time. Indeed, the majority of comic readers I’ve spoken to feel they’re more irritation than celebration at this point. And Shiri, er, I completely agree. But Infinity War happened back in the ’90s (long time ago, galaxy far far away…) when crossover events were far less common and thus exciting, eagerly anticipated, and much enjoyed treats. Also, no Nazi Cap, so…leg up on 2010s.
But, yes, as you can see, really, really big. And, while there’s theoretically time to get through it all before the May 4th U.S. premiere (those of you reading from the UK get it on April 27th, you bastards), finding, purchasing, and reading all of those trades plus the individual issues that tie them together is a pretty massive investment of both time and currency (if your library is like mine, they’re working hard on their comics collection but are bound to be missing something essential). There’s the omnibus option, of course, but you’re still looking at multiple books and each volume runs a couple of hundred dollars, so…unless you know someone who saved their individual issues from back in the day, you’re going to want to pare down to the essentials which, for purposes of having background for the upcoming films, would be: The Infinity Gauntlet and The Infinity War.
Synopses to follow so if you want to go in completely unbiased, skip down to the death pool at the bottom. Any spoilers herein are incidental because, obviously, I haven’t seen the movie yet.
The big beats of this part of the saga center around Thanos having acquired the Infinity Gauntlet (fancy shiny glove) that, when coupled with the Infinity Gems (soul, mind, power, time, reality, space) give him the power of a god. He plans to use his new abilities to woo Death (please let it be Hela in the movie, please let it be Hela in the movie…), with whom he has fallen in love, by addressing her concern about there being too many living souls in the universe, apparently causing some sort of cosmic imbalance (I mean…*spreads hands to indicate just our planet right now*). First Thanos builds Death a floating space shrine, which is pretty rad. When it doesn’t float Death’s boat enough to convince her to take a throne at Thanos’s side, he decides to solve her problem and vanish large chunk of the universe’s population at random, including: Mary Jane Watson, Hawkeye, a bunch of other Avengers and X-Men, some Asgardians, and a couple of Titans.
Adam Warlock gathers those heroes who are left and formulates a plan (it’s a bad plan, but it’s all they’ve got). There’s fighting, death, stuff blows up, and then comes the pivotal moment when our champions believe they’ve achieved victory only to have it snatched away by Nebula, whose MCU incarnation already has plenty of reasons to hate Thanos but who, if the comic is any gauge, has acquired even more since the end of GoTG Vol. 2.
As you may imagine, this doesn’t end well for anyone.
And of course, it isn’t the end because the Infinity Gauntlet is still floating around.
Infinity War suggests Adam had the gauntlet for a while wow, he has one job and totally blows it. Another baddie comes along (I don’t want to go too in depth here in case they end up using part of it because it’s kind of rad) who completely lacks Thanos’s restraint (yep, believe it or not, Thanos is the restrained villain of the piece). There are shape shifting tentacle monsters who replace Wolverine, Spider-Man, and Reed Richards (though it’s hard to tell the difference with Reed because he’s a pompous, creepy slimy mass anyway) because what’s a comic saga without shape shifting tentacle monsters…Most interesting about this bit of the story, though is that we find Thanos siding with the same cast of characters he fought against so bitterly in Infinity Gauntlet. Mind you, he hasn’t suddenly discovered a pool of altruism deep in his soul or anything; it just that this is his galaxy and he’s one of the idiots who lives in it, so he’d prefer it not be completely imploded. Which is, in a way, refreshing, since the comics medium tends towards the absolutes of good and evil, righteousness and darkness; having a character who does the right thing for his own reasons without qualm or attempt to claim otherwise is different and intriguing and honest. Also, Doom and Kang go on the most hate-fueled, snarky buddy road trip ever, both, of course, using the other to obtain the Infinity Gauntlet for himself and their inner monologues are the stuff of legend.
So, what are we going to see in May? I think Infinity War (the movie) is actually going to pull the majority of its major plot beats from Infinity Gauntlet. That said, the writers will have had to get creative with the material for a couple of reasons: what’s already happened in the MCU has done some major renovations on the foundations of Infinity Gauntlet and, perhaps more importantly, the Marvel writers didn’t have access to several key players in the original saga when they were working on their adaptation. While I’m sure Disney’s merger with Fox was in the works long before we heard about it, it wasn’t completed in time for Silver Surfer, Galactus, Doctor Doom, or the X-Men to be included in Infinity War, which means their parts will have to have been adapted to others—or cut and worked around—and part of that process may be pulling parts of usable character’s arcs forward from Infinity War (the comic).
What we need to understand going in is that we’re not going to see a translation but, rather, an adaptation, which is sure to leave some dissatisfied but, quite frankly, I’m fine living in a universe where Sue Storm has greater concerns than her hair and doesn’t feel the need to pant “Oh, Reed!” every five seconds, if she does eventually show up. Also, Gamora’s wardrobe has improved markedly, beardy Cap is best Cap, and Black Panther is in on the action rather than being one of the those vanished by Thanos. Also, Dora Milaje.
I also think there are going to be enough nods in the adaptation to keep all but the most die-hard comic fans happy. Several geeky outlets, for example, have pointed out the parallels of a panel of the Silver Surfer crashing into the Sanctum Sanctorum and a still of Bruce Banner doing, well, exactly the same thing in Infinity War, and it most surely won’t be the only one, since, if there’s a company who is superior at Easter Eggs, it’s Marvel:
The other thing I’m curious about is who’s going to end up playing leader to our motley band of heroes. As mentioned above, in the comics, it’s Adam Warlock, but his presence in the MCU thus far has been limited to a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 stinger in which a forlorn High Priestess Ayesha contemplates a birthing pod and mutters her plan to name its contents “Adam.” We’re also sans Surfer, which knocks our two big cosmic comic players out of the running.
From the trailers, it looks like our cosmic leader may be Thor, though I saw a fan recreation of the original Infinity War trade paperback cover that placed Vision at the center in Adam’s place, which is a viable theory. The only other real contender is Peter Quill and I just…hmmm. He’s lost his Celestial powers (as far as we know) and since he isn’t the son of space emperor as he is in the comics, he doesn’t have much support to call upon besides the Ravagers (who, while formidable, can be crushed by Thanos as easily as any other mortals). I’m sticking with the God of Hammers/Lord of Thunder if for no other reason than he’s the only character in the MCU who has, or will, definitely run with both the Avengers and the Guardians. On Earth, I think we may be looking at a triumvirate: Cap (or Nomad) and Stark because, while they likely patch things up, they won’t trust one another completely (boring), and Strange, who thinks they’re both idiots and tells them so often and vociferously. Damn, I can’t wait for the Stark-Strange snark-off. Though if there isn’t at least a nod to awesome facial hair bros, I’m going to riot.
I also think we’re in for a world of heartbreak. Permanent casualties end up being relatively light in Infinity Gauntlet/War, at least through the end of the titular run, but both Chrises are working on extended contracts as it is, and if the books factor in, The Guardians may be facing, at the very least, a temporary breaking up of the band. If the writers have pulled from Nebula’s storyline not only the lead-up, but the resolution of her arc, are going to be wrenching and, possibly, brutal.
I asked around my geek crew for thoughts on who wasn’t going to make it out the other side of this one. The most popular candidates for glorious demise were: Cap, Stark, and Hawkeye. Coming in second were: War Machine (who, if you’ll recall, was punched to death by Thanos in Civil War II), Nick Fury (but for real this time), Thor, Loki, and Nebula.
80 days friends. 80 days and we will certainly be forced to bid farewell to some of our favorite heroes. And 80 days until Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock, and others appear to take their places (personally, I’m hoping for Quasar, Moondragon, and an actual Nova too. Not to get greedy or anything…)
80 days to Infinity War.