Open Mike Night: Infinity Gauntlet

Infinity Gauntlet

Written by: Jim Starlin
Penciled by: George Perez (1-4) & Ron Lim (4-6)
Inked by: Josef Rubinstein (1-6), Tom Christopher (1), Bruce N. Solotoff (4)
Colored by: Max Scheele (1-6), Ian Laughlin (1, 3-5), Evelyn Stein (6)
Lettered by: Jack Morelli
Published by: Marvel

Maillaro: Since nothing really jumped out at us as something that needed to be reviewed, we decided to do some back issues this week. As I was flipping through my digital collection, I noticed that I had bought Infinity Gauntlet when it was on sale in February 2012, but had never actually read the digital issues, so I suggested we give it a try.

You know what’s weird. When I was a kid, I actually didn’t own issue 2 of the Infinity Gauntlet. I had bought issue 4 when it came out because of that awesome cover, and was immediately hooked.

I was able to find back issues of 1 and 3, but never issue 2. I never actually had read the second issue until just a few years ago when I got the trade.

The other thing that is strange is that even though I was a huge Silver Surfer fan at the time, and this series was tied into what had been happening in that book for a long time (in fact most of the first issue of Infinity Gauntlet 1 is just recap of everything that had happened in Surfer the year or so before), I still didn’t buy this series until issue 4 came out. I actually have no idea why that happened.

Weaver: For a long time, I had the same issue with Dark Phoenix. It took me forever to get X-Men #134, and really, it never impacted me much because comics of those eras were designed to be more self-contained than they are now. I also had four of five parts of my favorite JSA/JLA crossover, and had no issues understanding that either. I’ve actually not til now read the Infinity Gauntlet, but it also seems like something you can miss an early issue of and be fine, since the set-up tries to be so authoritative.

Speaking of the second issue, I just want to mention the hilarity to me of the “confirmed missing heroes” list. It really truly sucked to be on the Fantastic Four or Alpha Flight.

Maillaro: X-Factor too…except for Cyclops. Like that poor guy wasn’t angsty enough…

One thing I am very glad for is how well that book holds up. I was actually kind of sad by how much I didn’t like New Warriors 1 when we re-read it a few weeks ago, but Infinity Gauntlet is still one hell of a fun read. There were a handful of weird discrepancies (like Eternity basically telling Warlock and the other Gods to bugger off, but showing up for the final battle…pretty much give to give Thanos an excuse to “become” Eternity).

And I also was curious why they showed Namorita in issue 2…but she is not one of the heroes who gets recruited. Black Widow and Moon Knight I understand since they are more street level, but Namorita is pretty bad ass. But these were just little details that really didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the series.

Weaver: There’s other inconsistencies…in issue 1, Thor is having thought bubbles about how he has to pretend to be ye olde Thor but by issue two has gone full Eric Masterson in dialogue without reservation.

It’s a good comic still, but one thing bugs me. I’m not sure if it’s overly wordy and dense or if the relative brevity of modern comics makes it feel overly wordy and dense. I wasn’t a huge fan of the multiple jump cuts in the first two issues, either, but I understand their necessity. Something that bothers me right along with the Namorita thing is that everyone is back alive when it’s time to face Nebula, and the people who fought Thanos may not remember fighting Thanos, so why don’t we get even one action shot of someone confirmed dead in issue 2?

Maillaro: I actually figured the Thor thing was “You know what…things have gotten really messed up…I am not going to waste my time pretending anymore.” That said, there were other inconsistencies with Thor too though. Warlock sort of outs him as “Not Thor.” But later on when he is talking to the people who “saw Warlock’s soul” Thor was there…and I don’t remember any point that would have happened in the comic, though I suppose there could have been a tie-in. I actually don’t remember which comics had tie-ins other than Surfer and Hulk (which were about his adventures as Tiny Hulk when Thanos shrinks him and sends him back to Earth).

I am a huge Starlin fan, so I liked the wordiness in the early issues. And it was sort of averaged out by how little words were needed in issues 4 and 5. Those two comics are ridiculously fast reads for 48 page comics. Lots of splash pages and not a lot of word bubbles, which I thought conveyed the frantic action of these two issues perfectly.

Good catch on issue 6. There really was no reason Alpha Flight, X-Factor, and the FF couldn’t have gotten a little redemption. I wonder if Starlin or just Marvel in general had a specific reason those characters didn’t show up. Oddly enough, Alpha Flight and the FF would have pretty big roles in Infinity War.

Weaver: I’d have to look it up to be sure, but the first thing that comes to mind is that both Alpha Flight and Fantastic Four have track records that include a particularly aggressive writer who has feuded with everyone else who has ever written a Marvel comic, and perhaps Starlin just didn’t want to raise the ire of John Byrne. Or perhaps John Byrne’s ire was already raised…I know he hates massive company tie in comics. It was perhaps easiest to just leave him alone. This is all pure speculation. I have no evidence whatsoever to back up this suggestion.

I think the wordiness was necessary and even a good example of that era’s wordy event comics, but I don’t think you could make a new comic like this and expect it to sell today. Another thing about those splash page later issues…God, that art. Perez is obviously one of the most talented pencilers in comic history, and some of these scenes end up being just being explosions of awesomeness with no defined characters, just to point out to us how far beyond our understanding it is. And wow, he nailed the emotion and visual as well with just those designs and pulses than most artists can with fully fleshed out characters.

Speaking of fleshed out…there was also a really good build on Nebula. Perez keeps her in frame a lot, so you KNOW it’s going to be significant eventually. It still caught me by surprise when it happened.

Maillaro: Perez actually only drew the first 3 issues. He is listed as co-artists with Ron Lim for issue 4 and Ron Lim is the sole artist for issue 5 and 6. According to Wiki: “In 1991, artist George Pérez signed on to pencil the six-issue limited series. However, due to the emotional stresses Pérez was suffering from related to his concurrent work as writer/artist on DC Comics’ Wonder Woman and as artist on the DC limited series War of the Gods, Pérez was unable to finish penciling each issue of Infinity Gauntlet. Pérez left the project while working on issue #4, with penciler Ron Lim assigned to replace him. Pérez remained as the inker over Lim’s cover art for the remainder of the miniseries.”

Weaver: Well, that’s what I get for assuming it was consistent. That would explain a lot. If you’re Ron Lim and you need to polish up a George Perez comic, I’d think that resorting to the use of cool modern art instead of actual fisticuffs would be a way to help you not suffer by comparison.

You know, I think maybe one of the most tense moments in comic history has to be Silver Surfer playing the part of Bill Buckner. That’s the main takeaway here, and worth the price of admission alone.

Maillaro: The best part of that moment is how Cap creates the opening for Silver Surfer to save the day…and then Surfer botches it. I always wondered how Cap felt about that…

What made Surfer’s botch even worse is that in the Silver Surfer tie-ins, Surfer has a vision about what happens if he botches the grab. He ends up getting put on a leash by Thanos and forced to write about the grandiuer of Thanos. Surfer ends up trying to kill himself to escape Thanos…and that just makes things worse. For me, reading those tie ins back in the day seemed to confirm to me that Surfer would save the day in reality…and then he completely blows it. What a putz.

Weaver: I’m pretty sure Cap takes just about everything in stride. He knows nobody’s perfect. Poor Surfer. He seems to be one of those characters that’s always destined for pain.

Something you know that not many other people know is that I really don’t like reading stories about infinitely powerful creatures, and at times this fed into that problem. There were moments between Thanos and Adam Warlock, and especially once the big hitters started showing up, that I started tuning out a little. And it’s always hard to believe, even within the mechanism of the story, that a guy like Captain America can play a major part whereas, say, Quasar just gets to talk a few times. I have to assume that Mephisto’s role ends up being more defined in crossovers too. And Thanos retiring forever to be a farmer…even had I read this at release, I knew that was not going to happen.

But this did what it needed to do, and held my interest despite playing into a bunch of the territory that I really don’t typically like.

Maillaro: Yeah, Mephisto being “subjugated” by Thanos happens in Silver Surfer over a long period before this. Basically sometime between Thanos Quest and now. Funny part is this was my first exposure to Mephisto (other than Marvel cards), so it always amused me that Mephisto was supposed to be a big, bad devil…since he was a total lackey in my first real exposure to him.

My love of Marvel’s cosmic stuff really came from this series (and Starlin’s Surfer and Captain Marvel). Honestly, until Annihilation, there really wasn’t much else that even came close from Marvel cosmic, so this tended to inflate my opinion of those kinds of stories.

Weaver: Yeah, I first saw Mephisto in the pages of Ghost Rider so my opinion was a little different. I knew he was up to something from the word go.

I’ve tried Captain Marvel and Silver Surfer, neither really stuck with me. It’s a genre that just doesn’t quite hit me, in fact, I don’t like very many space stories period. But there’s always room for a well-done one.

I’d give the writing a 4/5. There were some issues which we noted earlier with inconsistencies, but nobody narrates a tale quite like Starlin.

Maillaro: There are quite a few moments where it is clear Mephisto is up to something…but I thought of him more as a backstabbing lackey, not “DEVIL TURNED INTO A PUNKASS BITCH!”

Even with the inconsistencies, I think I am going to go 4.5/5 for the writing on Infinity Gauntlet. Just for the fact that even after 20 years it still stands up really well, manages a lot of characterization, and two of the most epic issues of comic book fighting I have ever seen. Sure, Thano’s whoopings on the heroes and then the gods was a bit one-sided, but it was played out so damn cool. Even if I do think it was sad that She-Hulk and Namor got taken out by an infectious Tribble…

The art I would go a 4.5/5. I actually was almost willing to give it a 5, but there were some badly colored panels which annoyed me a bit.

Weaver: I saw some of the odd colors, like Iron Man looking like Naked Man With Gloves, but I’m still going to give a 5. There’s so many awesome panels that I can forgive a bit of coloration.

You mentioned the first trade of Thunderbolts going on sale…are you interested in reviewing some of my favorite Marvel comic ever next week?

Maillaro: I think that would be doable. The first T-Bolts trade had Incredible Hulk #449, Spider-Man Team-up #7, Thunderbolts #1 – 5, and Thunderbolts Annual 1997 #1, all of which came out on Comixology next week. I am almost 100% positive I still own my Justice, Like Lightning Trade, though I will have to dig it out of the crawl space.

And let’s do Amelia Cole and the Hidden War #1 (it’s short, 17 pages). First mini was pretty cool, so I am curious what you will think of it.

Final Scores

Maillaro – Story Weaver – Story Maillaro – Art Weaver – Art
Infinity Gauntlet 4 4.5 4.5 5

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