As a writer, I just had my first experience with killing off a main character.
I hadn’t expected it to go as smoothly as it did. I had planned on this particular characters death since first planning the novel – so it wasn’t unexpected. However, I thought it’d be a bit more dramatic, at least for me.
Well, I’ve spent countless hours building and creating a world with these characters to live and relate in. . . only for a main character to die. It’s like watching Return of the Jedi, knowing Yoda’s about to kick it. Or watching The Land Before Time and waiting on the inevitable death of Littlefoot’s mother. (I’m sorry I brought that one up! It still gets to me as well!)
I figured it’d be a lot more difficult writing the death scene. Saying “goodbye” to someone I’ve spent the past year having run around in my head. As it turns out, it wasn’t a big deal at all!
I’ll ask again: why?
I wonder if Yoda’s death scene was hard to write? It probably wasn’t! He was only a puppet! I wrote about a real, fictional human!
Damned if I know! Maybe authors aren’t supposed to feel so attached to their characters? Was I a lucky one? Perhaps I became desensitized to knowing the death was going to happen? Maybe I’m happy the character is dead?
Or maybe I wrote the death so poorly it wasn’t emotional enough?
. . . Oh, crap! What if my whole story was written poorly?! WHAT IF IT ALL SUCKS?!
The first Friday of each month, I will review a classic comic from my own personal collection. Due to Canada Day falling on a Friday and my work schedule being hectic, pardon the week lateness of this review.
My last Classic Comic Friday was the graphic novel, X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills. I had a lot of fun reviewing such a great book, that I really wanted to do something else that I enjoyed reading. But I also wanted that something else to be a major storyline. The only logical conclusion in my mind was the brilliantly written story, The Infinity Gauntlet by writer Jim Starlin, and artists George Pérez and Ron Lim in 1991.
Admittedly, as a child I overlooked this six-issue mini series due to the fact that I was still a kid focusing only on X-Men. Looking back on it now, I wouldn’t have had any idea who or what Thanos or Adam Warlock were. In fact, I can guarantee you, the immensity of showing the Celestials, the Watcher, Eternity, Eon, etc, would not had even impacted me the way it did later in my life.
Didn’t this mini series just kick your butt though?! Nothing could have prepared me for the immensity of this story. This was the first time I, and presumably you, feared for the Marvel Universe. I mean, what could stop Thanos?!
The Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July – December, 1991) Jim Starlin (writer), George Pérez & Ron Lim (pencils, covers), Josef Rubinstein, Tom Christopher & Bruce Solotoff (inks), Max Scheele, Ian Laughlin & Evelyn Stein (colours), Jack Morelli (letterer). $2.50 each
After gaining the six Soul Gems in The Thanos Quest mini series, finally Thanos places them in the Gauntlet to control the universe. And quite literally, he does control the universe. With the Gauntlet, Thanos first tries to impress the entity of Death – the being responsible for allowing Thanos to gain the Soul Gems. However, Death refutes him leaving Thanos to wonder what the price is of becoming a god. With the devil Mephisto at Thanos’ side, Mephisto convinces Thanos to prove himself worthy to Death by using his power for evil. (As if he wasn’t going to do that already.)
From there, with the snap of his fingers, Thanos wipes out half of the universe’s population. On Earth, the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. try to figure out what has caused such a catastrophic disappearance. Glimpses of the Skrull worlds and Asgard show readers that this is not only an Earth event. Not until the Silver Surfer asks for aid by Dr. Strange does everyone understand the gravity of what is about to occur.
Meanwhile, still unable to gain the respect and love from mistress Death, Thanos wipes out a series of planets – sending shock waves to Earth, destroying countries, flooding continents, and knocking Earth off of its orbit from the sun. Earth begins its plunge into a new ice age. It also destroys the Rainbow Bridge, stranding Odin and other gods gathered there from fighting Thanos.
Revitalizing himself from the Soul Gem, Adam Warlock finds Dr. Strange and summons Earth’s strongest and remaining heroes to give Thanos the fight of their lives – and what a blast that is! Not only does it feature Earth’s mightiest heroes getting the beat down by Thanos, but it also features some jaw-dropping moments. Wolverine’s defeat, Cyclops’, Nova’s, and Thor’s death, Iron Man’s beheading – what a terrifying experience for readers.
After their defeat, the universes mightiest entities take on Thanos, including Love, Hate, Eon, Galactus and Chronos. After their monumental defeat, Thanos takes on Eternity itself. Eternity’s defeat and Thanos’ assimilation as the ultimate cosmic entity only becomes his downfall. Leaving his physical body, Thanos then becomes the embodiment of the entire universe. Unfortunately for Thanos, it becomes his ultimate downfall.
With a thrilling conclusion which threw readers through the ringer of emotions and excitement, The Infinity Gauntlet not only proved to be a worth company-wide crossover, but it literally goes back to the age-old adage, “With great power comes great responsibility.” But that’s not all.
Jim Starlin did not just write this story just to get a message across. He did not write it about “whomever wields this glove.” We’ve seen that before. It is about something so much more that most writers should look at this series as a benchmark. It set up something incredibly fearful in the Marvel Universe. It created the ultimate weapon that absolutely nothing can defeat. To top it all of, it got into the hands of comic books greatest nihilist.
However, it’s still more than just that.
What Starlin made was an incredible, adventurous story. It disrupted the status quo, built great suspense and a climax not even recent story arcs could hold a candle to. Within six comics, The Infinity Gauntlet did more than what most novels could accomplish. The only kicker is that The Infinity Gauntlet is one of those stories that goes under the radar due because it deals with space.
If only more people actually read what happened in Marvel space rather than what just happens on Earth. But I digress.
To be also considered is the fantastic work both Pérez and Lim put into this story. The incredible depth and detail put into the six issues outshines many artists today. My favourite page in the entire series is Thanos’ triumph over Eternity (shown below) as it represents the absolute vastness of the Gauntlet’s power. Although a simple drawing, the concept is immaculate and is skewed within the entire series. The art is nothing-less than magnificent. The versatility of these artists to create practically every Marvel character shows immaculate artistry.
Although the ending itself arguably made the rest of the Marvel Universe “forget” what happened (yeah, there’s always a catch), The Infinity Gauntlet shows us what it’s like to be a god for six issues. I’m afraid that I loved every minute of it.