Greetings from the Odinson,
Jim Starlin has crafted a science fiction masterpiece.
This should come as no surprise for the man who orchestrated The Thanos Saga, The Death of Captain Marvel, Rebirth of Thanos, and the Infinity Gauntlet (and its sequels Infinity War and Infinity Crusade). I’m also talking about the man that brought the DCU to the brink in Cosmic Odyssey. With the release of Thanos: The Infinity Finale, Starlin’s mind-bending sci-fi epic, The Infinity Saga, was brought to a satisfying and thought-provoking conclusion. This tale, two years in the making, is the writer/artist’s ultimate opus in a creative journey that began back in 1973 with Iron Man #55.
While taking a psych class in college, a young Jim Starlin came up with the concept of a being whose sole nihilistic obsession is with the notion of death. That idea evolved and thus Thanos was born. From the list of storylines above and a dozen others not listed, the evil machinations of the creature that would become known as the Mad Titan are well documented. So, what makes Starlin’s most recent chapter in the life of Marvel’s super bad stand out? It’s all in the execution.
The Odinson Reviews The Infinity Saga
*WARNING* There will be minor Spoilers ahead for those who have not read this storyline. You have been warned.
Chapter 1: Thanos: The Infinity Revelation – The Mad Titan has returned, begrudgingly, to the land of the living. However, something is wrong. Something is upsetting the very fabric of reality. Thanos is compelled to investigate, and he will not embark on this existential journey alone. He is joined by the yin to his yang, Adam Warlock. As this sci-fi Odd Couple gather the clues, they cross paths with the Annihilators, a team of the Marvel U’s most powerful cosmic heroes. The Mad Titan’s reputation precedes him and the heroes attack. If you ever needed proof of where Thanos fit into the hierarchy of Marvel’s power level scale, look no further then this clash of titans as the villain dismantles some of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe in a matter of moments. But, this battle is merely window-dressing, Thanos has a universal mystery to solve. Thanos and Warlock enter a gleaming portal and are bombarded with images of the past, present, and future, and images of life and death. What Thanos discovers is that the universe and existence itself is about to change and Adam Warlock will play a major role in these events. The first chapter comes to an end with the so called Mad Titan determined to discover the truth and stop the shadowy unknown culprit responsible. NOTE: For a better understanding on how Adam Warlock fits into the grand scheme of the Marvel U and with Thanos check out Warlock: The Complete Collection by Jim Starlin and Infinity Watch.
Interlude 1: Thanos: A God up There is Listening – The bulk of this seemingly unrelated tale deals with Thane, a character introduced during the Infinity campaign, coming to terms with being the son of Thanos. What concerns us here are the revelations from the Thanos Annual. Here the reader is privy to missing pieces from the Mad Titan’s past, pieces that tie together major events from the Thanos Saga, Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, Infinity Crusade, and Annihilation. Plus, we bear witness to a major slight against a powerful force for evil, Mephisto. The latter, though seemingly innocuous now, will come back in a future chapter to play a major role in unfolding events. It is also during this interlude where Thanos, and the reader, learn that the Negative Zone despot Annihilus will play a major role in the universal upheaval. We are also privy to glimpse the future where an epic final battle has been fought, a battle where the mightiest and most powerful warriors in the Marvel Universe – Thor, Silver Surfer, Hulk, the Shi’ar, the Skrulls, the Kree, and many more – fought and died. Upon a mountain of bodies stands the lone survivor – Thanos. And, then we witness the end of existence. But, this is only a vision of what may happen, right? The interlude ends with the Living Tribunal, a cosmic titan of unimaginable power and importance, declaring “…universal transmutation has begun!” Now, at the time, the Odinson suspected this declaration had something to do with the incursions storyline playing out in the pages of New Avengers (see More Clues for a Marvel Crisis…). By the end of this saga, the Odinson will learn that he was both wrong and correct.
Interlude 2: Thanos vs. Hulk – Do not let the sensationalized title of this second interlude fool you, this piece of the puzzle may just be the most important juncture of this cosmic tale (as seen in the Finale). The mighty Hulk has been captured by Annihilus and his cohorts, Batstaar and Doctor Bultar. When Thanos decides to investigate, he quickly learns the horrible truth behind this coup. The Negative Zone villains use super science to steal the unlimited power of the Hulk and transfer it into the power-hungry Annihilus making the insect king a nigh unstoppable juggernaut!
Chapter 2: Thanos: The Infinity Relativity – As the second chapter to this cosmic mystery unfolds, Thanos continues to try and connect the clues, and Adam Warlock takes center stage. Meanwhile, Annihilus, his new found power, and his Annihilation Wave descend upon the Shi’ar Empire. The Imperial Guard led by Gladiator fight with all their might but are soon overwhelmed. The Annihilation Wave once again begins its destructive march across the Marvel Universe. Thanos struggles mightily against this new unstoppable foe but ultimately falls into a trap, a trap where the only escape is death. The final pages of this chapter see the Mad Titan welcome the inevitable and desired embrace of his mistress.
Chapter 3: The Infinity Entity – Adam Warlock awakens but he has no memories of his past and no recollection of even who he is. What he does quickly discover is that he is nigh omnipotent. His search for answers takes him to the past where he confronts the founding members of the Avengers. Ultimately, this confused cosmic power is manipulated and tricked by the cunning Doctor Bultar. Only when Adam Warlock is trapped within a device that syphons his cosmic power for destructive purposes does Bultar drop the illusion and reveal his true face – Mephisto! It seems the Marvel U’s incarnation of evil has been manipulating events and pulling strings from behind the scenes to cause this universal upheaval from the very beginning. Now, with the unlimited cosmic power of Adam Warlock weaponized and at his disposal, there is nothing left alive that can stand in the way of Annihilus and his dream for universal annihilation!
Chapter 4: Thanos: The Infinity Finale – Two years of storytelling has led to this moment. Desperate, Mistress Death calls her Champion back from the void for his work is not yet done. Empowered by the captive Adam Warlock’s cosmic power and the schemes of Mephisto, Annihilus and his Annihilation Wave are on the verge of complete universal destruction. Only a handful of warriors remains to oppose him – Thor, Silver Surfer, Gladiator, Hulk, and a few Avengers, Inhumans, Guardians and X-Men, and a ragtag force of soldiers comprised of Kree, Skulls, and Shi’ar elite. These last heroes, led by Thanos, make their last stand on Earth’s moon and the epic final battle glimpsed in the first interlude of this story unfolds before our eyes in all its Saving Private Ryan-like glory. It all plays out as foretold and, in a flash of white light, the Marvel Universe comes to an abrupt end.
Only the seemingly All-Powerful Warlock remains floating in the vast nothingness. He almost immediately uses his cosmic awareness to pull Thanos back from the ether. What follows is this sci-fi equivalent of Jesus Christ and Lucifer attempting to locate the source of existence and asking the philosophical questions man has asked since the dawn of mankind. By the end of Starlin’s magnum opus, a universe is reborn, evil is punished, a villain earns a victory and a much deserved reward, and Adam Warlock is bestowed with a major new role in the hierarchy of the Marvel Universe.
The Infinity Saga – The Odinson’s Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunder Strike
This storyline does not only feature the mind-expanding writing and stunning artwork of Jim Starlin himself but also the highly underrated pencils of Ron Lim (Captain America, Silver Surfer), an artist whose work has beautifully complimented Starlin’s for many, many years now.
The Infinity Saga is a masterpiece. Jim Starlin is, without a doubt, one of the true legends of our beloved industry. Not too shabby for a wartime photographer turned comic book artist turned seasoned explorer and master of existential storytelling.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell