This is Super Reads, the place where I read a comic and then spoil the hell out of it for your pleasure. Today's issue is The Infinity Gauntlet #1.
You heard me say I spoil the hell out of it? That's a good indication that:
There are Spoilers ahead.
But before we get to them, let's try to get up to speed on a few things.
Since this comic is titled The Infinity Gauntlet #1, naturally, we should mention the actual Infinity Gauntlet.
Yes, it's a literal thing. "Gauntlet," as in "glove" and not as in "physical punishment." But, since comics love to employ double meanings, the Gauntlet can sometimes be SEEN as a physical punishment. A heavy burden. All that jazz.
Housed in the Infinity Gauntlet are the Infinity Gems, originally called the Soul Gems until everything cool got renamed "Infinity XXX." Also: one of the Gems was specifically CALLED the Soul Gem, so it was problematic at best.
The Infinity Gems are super powerful objects but can only be used in their native universe. So, if you have an Infinity Gem and you were on Earth-616, it would be just a pretty rock on Earth-1610.
OK, let's run down the different Gems and their colors so we can figure out who's holding what later on. Soul is green, Time is orange, Space is purple, Mind is blue, Reality is yellow, and Power is red. The reason you'd want to put those gems on a glove is that they're so super powerful that the Infinity Gauntlet is pretty much required to wield them all together.
One of the guys who is most likely to WANT to wield all of the Infinity Gems is this guy. Thanos. The mad god of death.
Well... mad TITAN of death but it's essentially the same thing when you're using the lower-case "g" version of god. And if you REALLY want to get technical, he's an Eternal, one of Marvel's many groups of immortal super-humans. So, yeah, "god" is much, much simpler.
Thanos fell in love with Death at a young age and when I say that I mean, he really fell in love with Death. The physical aspect of Death. You might think that would mean falling in love with a skeleton wearing a hood and carrying a scythe but it turns out that Marvel's version of Death is kind of a hot lady. Sometimes. Other times, she's still a skeleton.
Thanos has been causing trouble for the heroes of the Marvel Universe since the seventies, usually using his impressive powers (your standard super-strength, telekinesis, telepathy, energy absorption, energy power blasts, matter manipulation, and a wrinkly chin) to conquer, kill, and steal in the name of his love.
He's also known for once flying the Thanoscopter.
But you know what's REALLY important? The Annihilation Wave. That's what you call an attack by an overwhelming force of bug-like aliens, all under the command of Annihilus.
The Annihilation Wave hit the Marvel Universe in an event appropriately called Annihilation. If you haven't read it: go do that. Do it soon. It was pretty great. But the short version is that the Wave actually rocked the Marvel Universe to it's core, destroying Xandar and it's Nova Corps, crippling the Kree Empire, and opening the rest of the universe up to threats like the Phalanx and a cancerous alternate universe.
In this particular zone of Battleworld (yes, this is a Secret Wars tie-in and takes place on Doom's patchwork planet), Annihilus and his self-named Wave have destroyed the whole area. This is New Xandar, beyond the Shield of Battleworld. In a world full of terrible Kingdoms, this is up there in the top three.
The Infinity Gauntlet #1
Story: Gerry Duggan & Dustin Weaver
Artist: Dustin Weaver
Script: Gerry Duggan
Letterer: Albert Deschesne (Comicraft)
Assistant Editor: Devin Lewis
Editor: Nick Lowe
In this issue: The Bakian Family tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic city filled with Annihilation Wave bugs, Infinity Gems, and Thanos.
• In the ruins of New Xandar, the lone dog finds dog food for his family of humans, the Bakian Clan.
• After an unsatisfying meal, the family heads to the park to sleep, the eldest daughter (Anwen) catching a slight glimpse of a hooded figure on a broken rooftop on their way.
• Before falling asleep for the night, the father (Menzin) and grandfather (Unnamed) get into an argument about the fate of Mother Bakian, a Nova that's been MIA for a long time.
• The fight leaves them wide open for an attack by a whole lot of Annihilation bugs.
• Everyone splits up in a mad scramble to stay alive.
• Menzin and his youngest daughter (Fayne) manage to stay out of the clutches of the bugs using some seriously fancy footwork.
• Grandpa Bakian sacrifices his life to save Anwen.
• Anwen is still pursued by a flying bug but loses it when she falls into a hole in the ground.
• This hole in the ground is a bug nest which makes things even WORSE.
• Anwen saves her own life by channeling her rage about her missing mother.
• In the squishy remains of a baby bug, Anwen finds the Mind Infinity Gem.
• Anwen's mother shows up and uses her Nova powers to make short work of the nearby Annihilation bugs.
• Watching the mother/ daughter reunion from above, the earlier seen shadowy figure is revealed to be Thanos.
• He's got his own Infinity Gem: the Time Gem.
The battle's already lost.
You've seen this movie before because it's pretty much every post-apocalyptic movie ever. And, since so many movies like to go post-apocalypse, you've seen this a lot. The war's lost. The aliens, zombies, or whatever super-threat we all fear has already destroyed mostly everything and we're left with just a handful of survivors.
But just because it's a common scene in entertainment doesn't mean it's not a good one. It's just setting. What matters is what our intrepid creators DO with that setting. And, honestly, they do something pretty special with this one. I usually stay away from the whole "is this a good comic?" type question when doing these things but... yes. Yes, this is a good comic.
So, yeah. The whole kingdom/ domain is destroyed. A wasteland. But there are survivors because there are always survivors. If there weren't, our story would be done already.
The first one we meet is the dog. His name is Zigzag and he's searching out food for his family. After finding a few cans, the father and one of the daughter gathers them up and all three of them head back to the rest of their group.
The rest of the group is an older daughter with a talent for art (she just found a new pencil in the wreckage and his trying it out by drawing a picture of her missing mother) and an injured grandfather.
Unfortunately, the cans of food they've found are unlabeled. Even more unfortunate, the contents is dog food. But food is food.
Here's our post-apocalyptic family eating a less-than-tasty meal.
This is the Bakian clan. The father's name is Menzin. The grandfather is unnamed but he's the kids' maternal grandfather. The older daughter is Anwen. The younger daughter is Fayne. You've already met the dog, Zigzag but say hi again.
It's daylight and everything looks clear but whenever anyone shouts, they're told to quiet down by one of the two grownups. It's probable that daytime isn't really "safe" so much as "safer." Either way, it's still damn depressing.
With food out of the way, the Bakians gather up their belongings (in backpacks) and start hiking to a safe place to sleep. On the way, Anwen sees a figure on a broken rooftop but when she tries to get a second look, it's gone. They keep moving.
Night-time sees them camping in a park. A fire is a no-no so all they've got to keep out the cold are their sleeping bags. Fayne asks to hear about her mom and even though Anwen doesn't want to hear it, Menzin tells the story anyway.
Mom was a member of the Nova Corps. When the Annihilation Wave started waving around, she reluctantly left her family to fight with the Corps is space. The news was still working when the Nova Corps fell in battle but Menzin believes that his wife is still alive. Anwen does NOT. Neither does Grandpa.
The grownups bicker about this and pretty much every other thing that two adults will complain about after spending FAR too much time together. The fate of Menzin's wife and Grandpa's daughter (which is the same person-- just making sure you get the relationship) is clearly a sore point between the two but this mostly gets down the the point of two people just being annoyed with each other. In a scene right after this, you can tell that the two love and respect the other but families squabble. It's what they do.
Unfortunately, raised voices are NOT a good idea. Not only does it attract unwanted attention but while you're busy fighting, you might miss the signs that these unwanted aggressors are bearing down on your position. Zigzag picks up on it. Anwen does, too. She's just unable to get her dad and grandfather's attention until the bugs are right on top of them.
The Bakians run off as an overwhelming number of Annihilation bugs chase after them. Menzin and Fayne race off one way while Grandpa and Anwen go another.
A flying bug swoops down and picks up Anwen, giving the eldest daughter a good view of her family's predicament as she's heading towards her own fate. Fayne has jumped on Menzin's back and Grandpa has snuck inside a pipe.
Anwen slips out of her jacket and drops, hitting another flier on the way down. She scrambles from bug to bug, making her way to Gramps' pipe.
Menzin is still carrying Fayne on his back and has been joined by Zigzag. They're crossing a pipe-like bridge when their path is blocked by a giant flier. The bridge collapses on one end under the giant bug's weight, sending Menzin, Fayne, and Zigzag airborne. Everyone leaps off of the bug's head on their way down.
Their fate will have to wait for the next issue. For now, let's head back to Anwen and her grandfather. They're still inside a pipe but it's gone from a secure spot to hide to the most dangerous place in the world. A giant bug lifts the pipe up and tries to empty the contents of the pipe into it's mouth.
It either grows impatient at the lack of immediate food or maybe the two humans are able to rock the pipe out of the bug's claws. Whatever the case, the pipe is thrown free of the giant bug and ends up rolling on the ground to a bumpy stop.
Gramps is thrown free of the pipe but is only scraped up a bit. Anwen is still in the pipe. Grandpa tells her to stay there until he can distract the bugs and then to run like hell. This is clearly a sacrificial moment. Grandpa isn't getting out of this alive.
After Gramps' distraction, Anwen runs free but doesn't get very far before gaining the attention of another flier. It nearly catches her before she plummets down a random hole in the ground. She shouts taunts at the bug above her, knowing it's unable to pursue her any further.
But she's got a brand new problem. This random hole in the ground is the opening to a bug nest. Inside, the larva are feeding on human corpses. One of them looks a LOT like they're wearing Richard Rider's Nova Prime suit but it's too decomposed to know for certain. It's definitely a dead Nova and it reminds Anwen of her missing mother.
And that just pisses her off. Anwen's rage keeps her alive. She kills an attacking larva bug, all the while thinking about how her mother abandoned her family for the Nova Corps.
After smashing the baby terror, she finds a blue light inside it. She reaches inside and pulls out a blue gem. If the colors are the same as usual, this would be the Mind Infinity Gem. It typically grants telepathy and telekinesis.
Of course, Anwen doesn't know what she's got. However, it's interesting to point out that as soon as she has the stone, something... DIFFERENT starts going down on the surface. She climbs out of the bug nest to see something delivering a lot of pain on the Annihilation monsters. Blue beams of light kinds of pain.
One of the larger bugs stomps up to Anwen, defiant even while being on fire (which probably isn't it's normal state). A number of blue bolts takes it down.
Anwen's rescuer reveals herself. It's a Nova. More than that, it's Anwen's mother. At last.
Even though that's an AWFULLY big coincidence...
The mother and daughter hug, with the mother telling Anwen that "Everything's going to be fine now..."
Witnessing this touching reunion from a nearby building, the mad god, Thanos clutches his very own Infinity Gem. This one is the Time Gem, capable of prescient visions, time travel, and other wibbly-wobbly, timey-whimey stuff. Looking down, he comments on the Nova's statement.
"That is decidedly UNTRUE."
Now, is the SAME Thanos as the one who left the liferaft with the rest of the Cabal in Secret Wars #2? Maybe we'll find out next issue.