Infinite Gauntlet Prep: Meet Thanos and Adam Warlock

Issues

  • Thanos Backstory

  • Iron Man # 55 (Origins)

  • Captain Marvel # 25 - 33 (Cosmic Cube)

  • Adam Warlock Backstory

  • Fantastic Four # 66 - 67

  • Thor # 163 - 166

  • Marvel Premiere # 1 - 2

  • Warlock # 1 - 8

  • The Magus

  • Strange Tales 178 - 181

  • Warlock 9 - 12

  • Warlock and Thanos

  • Warlock 12 - 15

  • Avengers Annual # 7

  • Marvel Age Annual # 2

Foreword


You might be thinking to yourself: "This is a lot of Infinite Gauntlet content for an X-Men blog." Well, you're right. Thanos, Infinite Stories, Adam Warlock, the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Silver Surfer are all guilty pleasures of mine. In other words, I love the cosmic stuff, mostly done by Jim Starlin.


If you've been following my blog, you know that I read a lot of comics in the early 90's, then I stopped for a long time (keeping up with Marvel movies, TV shows, etc.) Well, there is one big exception to this. I owned the Infinite Gauntlet and it's probably the most influential comic I've ever read. I would go back and read it cover to cover at least once per year for the next 30 years of my life. Obviously I was super excited when Marvel decided to make Thanos their big bad and cover the Infinite Gauntlet in detail.


As I've gone through these blogs, I've covered the major crossover events. I actually read all 44 issues connected to Secret Wars 2. So obviously when I saw Infinite Gauntlet, a comic I know intimately, I was going to do something similar. What started as reading Infinite Gauntlet crossover issues metastasized into this blog, where I decided to go all the way back to the origins of the major characters featured. In addition to Thanos and Adam Warlock, I got to see the origins of Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, and Pip the Troll. Obviously Drax and Gamora are houshold names now as they are part of the current iteration of the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, but they will be joined by Pip the Troll and Moondragon (who also got a lot of screen time in these issues) as members of the Infinity Watch (A series I somehow never read and can't wait to get to) team who are responsible for safeguarding the Infinite Stones after the event is done.


What I ended up uncovering was something nothing short of a miracle. One man's vision had been so strong, he found a way to tell a complete story that unraveled across 9 different titles. Jim Starlin was not given his own comic line in which to tell a story (at least not early in his career), so he planted seeds (Thanos, Drax, Warlock, etc) and began telling this unified story across all of these titles. Eventually, the stories must have picked up a lot of traction, culminating in him getting the reigns of Marvel's big crossover event and spawning the highest grossing movie of all time. So let's dive in!


THANOS' BACK STORY


Iron Man # 55: Birth of Thanos and Drax

Writer - Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich

Penciler- Jim Starlin

Cover Artist - Jim Starlin


Jim was typically just the penciler on Iron Man, but he was allowed to be the writer for a couple of issues and this is where he choose to introduce Drax and Thanos to the Marvel Universe.

We start off with Drax the Destroyer, who's origin will come a bit later. Drax appears to be held captive and reaches out psychically (a power I don't think he possess after this issue) to Iron Man for help.

We are introduced to Titan, one of the Moons of Saturn. In the Marvel Universe, there is a technologically advanced Utopian society hidden beneath the surface, run by a gargantuan artificial intelligence named Isaac.

Titan is ruled by Mentor, a man with a very interesting back story, which we'll also get into later in this post. Mentor has two sons, Eros (a future Avenger) and Thanos.

Thanos always craved power, but he was banished from Titan after challenging Mentor. He ended up putting together an army of followers and attacked Titan, killing his own mother in the process.

With all hope lost, Mentor asked the God Kronos (we'll learn more about him and his connection to Mentor later) for help. Kronos agreed to help once.

With Kronos agreeing to help Mentor, a man was pulled from the ground with one mission in life: Destroying Thanos. That man was Drax the Destroyer!

Iron Man was ultimately able to find Drax and free him from Thanos.


The Cosmic Cube Crisis


Thanos (and Jim Starlin) went quiet for a while until Starlin came on board as the penciler for the original Captain Marvel series. Eventually Jim became co-writer of the series and the Thanos story continued.


Captain Marvel # 25 - 26: Skrull Invasion

Writer - Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich

Penciler - Jim Starlin

Cover - Jim Starlin

In Issue # 25, there is a Skrull invasion of Earth. Issue # 26 is when we first see that Thanos is behind the attack. We also see for the first time that Lady Death is by his side. I'll have a lot to say about Lady Death soon.


Captain Marvel # 27: Thanos sets his sight on the Cosmic Cube.

We learn in Issue # 27 that Thanos is actually after the Cosmic Cube. The Cosmic Cube was a device created on Earth by A.I.M. scientists and it is one of the most powerful artifacts/weapons in the universe. Thanos and Lady Death are using the AI, Isaac, to find it on Earth.

Captain Marvel is actually the combination of two men. A human, Rick Jones, and a Kree superhero named Mar-Vell. The two identities share one life force and constantly switch back and forth. We actually learn in this issue that the Kree Supreme Intelligence had created the Captain Marvel/ Rick Jones entity and put the location of the Cosmic Cube in Rick's head.


Thanos captures Rick Jones and siphons this knowledge from his head and he is saved by Mentor and Eros after Thanos leaves.

Thanos was starting to boast to Lady Death about how powerful he was about to be until Drax showed up, embarassing him, and forcing a fight.


CM # 28: Thanos gets the Cosmic Cube

Thanos and Drax battle for a while, but eventually Thanos gets the Cosmic Cube and begins torturing Drax. The trippy panel above is something Jim Starlin becomes famous for as Thanos uses control over reality itself to torture Drax.

Drax is seemingly killed by Thanos.

Thanos officially acquires the Cosmic Cube and this tale begins in earnest.


CM # 29: Cosmic back story

With this issue, Jim Starlin takes over solo writing, continues penciling, and he creates the cover. What a guy.

Without getting too much into a convoluted backstory, Captain Marvel is mentored by an ancient cosmic being named Eon. Eon has chosen Captain Marvel to fight on behalf of the universe against Thanos.


Eon spends much of this issue telling CM (and us) the backstory of the Cosmic deities. It seems as though this is a combination of classical religions and sci-fi craziness.

Apparently at the beginning there was a God-like realm called Olympus, where Chronos reigned supreme.

Chronos had many children, but the most notable were Zeus and A'Lars. We also learn that Chronos was a scientist and one day he had an experiment go wrong that destroyed his body, but with him being a God, he didn't fully disappear.

With the body of Chronos gone, his consciousness became a Cosmic deity named Kronos. With Chronos gone, Zeus took over Olympus and sent his brother A'Lars packing.

A'Lars left Olympus, landed on Titan, and spawned an entire race of demi Gods and a utopian society We know A'Lars today as Mentor!

Thanos captures both his father Mentor and brother Eros.


CM # 30: The Collector

This wasn't a terribly impactful issue. Thanos sends one of his lackeys, a brute named the Collector, after Captain Marvel. They battle in this issue and CM eventually wins.


CM # 31: The true motivation for Thanos

Still all Jim Starlin!

Captain Marvel starts summoning all of the Avengers and former Avengers together so they could assist him in defeating Thanos. This is the first time we encounter Moondragon, a character who will be picked by Adam Warlock after Infinity Gauntlet to safeguard one of the Infinity Gems (Mind Gem, I think).

The stories have been teasing a big reveal for a long time. What is the reason for Thanos doing all that he does? Is it Power, greed, or the will of Command?

No, it's love! He's in love with Death, which at the moment has a female personification. He also drops a point that she's never spoken to him. He loves her, but she has never spoken to him. She has never shown him any affection. She travels with him, but has yet to give him the love back. This is a major motivator for him!

Thanos uses the Cosmic Cube to become a God. With his first Godlike act, he imprisons Kronos in front of Iron Man, Drax, Captain Marvel, Mentor, Eros, and Moondragon.


CM # 32: A Major Ass whooping

You would think this would be the most exciting issue, but nope, it's pretty straight forward. The heroes get their ass whooped all issue.


CM # 33: The end of the Cosmic Cube Crisis

Writer - Jim Starlin and Gaspar Saladino

Penciler - Jim Starlin

Colorist - Jim Starlin

Cover Art - Jim Starlin and Gaspar Saladino

Mantis shows up! Another present day GotG household name, however I'm a little confused who she is or why she's important. He says "Mantis of the Avengers" so I guess I'll need to wait for my Avengers journey (if that ever happens) to learn more about her.

Drax and Captain Marvel put out one final attack.

Thanos left his corporeal body and expanded to a universe-wide, God like persona. As Captain Marvel is being killed (zapped and age accelerated), he realizes that the Cosmic Cube is left available. In one last gamble, he dives at the cube and crushes it. Thanos overlooked the fact that he his power came from the Cube and didn't protect it. This creates an explosion and Thanos is returned to his normal body.

Death looks away in disgust. When next we see her, she's back in her skeleton persona.


Adam Warlock back story


Fantastic Four # 66 - 67: the birth of Him

Writer - Stan Lee

Penciler- Jack Kirby

Cover Art - Jack Kirby

Adam Warlock, originally known only as "Him" first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He was created by a bunch of Earth scientists to be the perfect man.

After being born in his cocoon, the man soon to be known as Adam Warlock dispatches of his creators when he realizes they planned to use him for evil plans. Pretty straightforward 1967 comic book right here.


Thor # 163 - 166: Thor vs. "Him."

Writer - Stan Lee

Penciler- Jack Kirby


"Him" decides that he wants to find the perfect mate, so he sets his eyes on Lady Sif to be his boo. Unfortunately, Thor is already "in a relationship" with Sif (or more like "It's complicated") and doesn't like this plan. They battle for several issues and ultimately "Him" realizes the error of his ways. He puts himself back into a cocoon and gets launched into space where he will eventually be found by the High Evolutionary.


Marvel Premiere #'s 1 & 2 - Enter the High Evolutionary

Writer - Roy Thomas

Penciler - Gil Kane

The High Evolutionary finds Warlock's cocoon floating in space and is immediately intrigued. If you recall what we learned about this dude from the Evolutionary War, he is obsessed with speeding up evolution. So imagine how much he likes "The Perfect Man."

We learn that the High Evolutionary had created an entirely different planet called "Counter Earth" that is hidden from the real earth and is supposed to be a more highly evolved planet. It's on the other side of the earth, so perfect hiding place. But he learns that there is a creature from this planet called the Man Beast (This is 1972 so names like the "Man Beast" are still in fashion) which is evil and corrupting the people of this planet. He considers the Man Beast to be proof that he has failed and so he decides to blow up the planet, before Warlock (Oh yea, the H.E. gave him the name Adam Warlock so we don't need to call him "HIM" anymore) stops him.

Warlock agrees to go down to the planet and defeat the Man Beast, saving the people of Counter Earth. Also, somehow a metal helmet is able to cry.

Also, the High Evolutionary had an Infinity Stone lying around so he gives him the mind stone as a boon.


Warlock # 1 - 8: Tales from Counter Earth.

Writers - Roy Thomas, Mike Friedrich

Artists - Not Jim Starlin


I wanted to know where Warlock came from, but Jim Starlin isn't around yet so this series isn't very good. Warlock befriends a group of humans. He runs into different versions of Dr. Doom and Reed Richards. The Man Beast keeps impersonating different people, including political dissidents and later the President. Not for the last time, he ends up dying for the people and is shortly resurrected.


Strange Tales # 178 - 181 - Tales of the Magus!

Writer - Jim Starlin

Penciler - Jim Starlin

Cover - Jim Starlin

Inker - Jim Starlin

Colorist - Jim Starlin

After being worshiped and dying for the people of Counter Earth (Warlock 1 - 8), Adam Warlock is found by a woman sent to find him. She is being pursued by the Universal Church of Truth.

The Universal Church of Truth is a massive interstellar religion and empire led by a character known as "The Magus."

Shortly after learning about the Magus, Warlock learns that the Magus and him are actually the same being. He assumes it's his darker side, escaped via the Soul Gem.

Warlock goes to find the Magus and gets attacked by his followers. Captain Autolycus is a good man following orders and Warlock is shocked when his Soul gem absorbs him. He starts to realize that his soul gem is like a vampire, constantly tempting him to absorb people's soul's, leaving their body lifeless.

Warlock is thrown in prison where he finds a large number of aliens who were part of a rebellion. The Magus only accepted humanoid species into his church so all other aliens weren't allowed in. This is our first appearance of Pip the Troll. Pip is a funny side character who has bad bedside manner and low morals but becomes incredibly loyal to Warlock.


According to Comic Book Legends Revealed, Pip was actually based off of Jack Kirby!


The misfit aliens beg Warlock to be their leader, but he refuses them. He became a leader (and God) to the humans of counter earth and he didn't like where that led, so he refused to do it again.

We learn that the Universal Church of Truth is led by a Matriarch, who decides to kill both Warlock and the Magus.

A rebellion begins and Warlock helps them, but won't lead them.

He tries to remove the Soul gem but is quickly attacked. Pip gives it back to him as he lays passed out. He realizes that he cannot remove the soul gem without dying.

Warlock comes face to face with the Matriarch, who tells him the truth of the Magus. The Magus is not a part of Warlock, it is Warlock, but from the future!

While Warlock is talking to the Matriarch, Pip goes to a bar. There he meets Gamora! A beautiful assassin self described as the most dangerous woman in the world. She's out to kill the Magus on behalf of her master, so she joins the group.

Warlock is put on trial by Kray-Tor. When Warlock doesn't accept the verdict, he is attacked. Adam absorbs Kray-Tor into the soul gem.

The series ends with Pip and Gamora saving Warlock and the three of them set out to stop the Magus. Notice that Jim Starlin is literally jumping all over different comic lines to tell his stories. He's one determined man!


Warlock 9 - 15: The end of the Magus


Writer - Jim Starlin

Penciler - Jim Starlin


From here, the cancelled Warlock is brought back with Jim Starlin at the helm.

Gamora was able to get within the Magus's presence without him sensing her. She went in for an attack but was stopped by the Magus at the last second.

We learn that the Magus summons the In-Betweener, who is a cosmic being. Apparently the In-Betweener will eventually come and take the younger Warlock away and imprison and torture him for centuries. Apparently while he is taken away, he will go mad and become the Magus. Warlock, Pip, and Gamora are determined not to let him get taken.

Warlock goes mad for a while.

Eventually Gamora's master shows up and it's none other than Thanos! I should have seen that coming. He fears the Magus may one day be strong enough to defeat him, so he partners with Warlock for this adventure.

Thanos suggests that Warlock commit suicide to stop the Magus from coming into existence.

The Magus and Thanos fight!

The In-Betweener shows up!

Warlock decides to travel shortly into the future to absorb his slightly future self into the soul gem. This does the trick as Warlock is still able to live for now and the Magus is erased from history. Only Thanos, Warlock, Gamora, and Pip remember the Magus.

Thanos makes clear that he has his own evil plan.

There are a few issues where Pip gets a solo issue and Warlock fights someone called the Starthief, but eventually the series is semi wrapped up in #15.

Warlock wonders as to his purpose. He's really distraught over it.

He learns that the Soul Gem is one of six powerful stones.


Avengers Annual # 7: Thanos Strikes Back

Writer - Jim Starlin

Penciler - Jim Starlin

After the destruction of the Cosmic Cube, Thanos's search for power led him to the 6 soul stones which he now re-brands as the Infinity Gems. He get some quick text about how he acquired them, however in a few years we'll get a miniseries showing us how he acquired each one.

Gamora, who had been serving Thanos faithfully, learned that he planned to use the gems to destroy all life. She couldn't let this happen so she attacked him and he slayed her. Before she could completely die, Warlock found her and absorbed her soul into the soul gem.

Warlock learned all that Gamora knew by absorbing her soul. This led him to summon some of the most powerful heroes to Avengers mansion so he could work with them to stop him.

Later, Warlock learned that Pip had his own run in with Thanos. Warlock also absorbed him into the soul gem before he could die.

In this event, Thanos took all 6 gems and put their power into a single gem. The Avengers show up to stop him.

The Avengers are able to destroy this new gem and thus stop Thanos, however he escapes.

This is when the event we had seen at the end of the Cosmic Cube plays out. Warlock went into the future to absorb his future soul into the Soul Gem, to stop the creation of Magus. This is that future moment. Old Warlock finds present Warlock beside himself over not being able to kill Thanos and his grief over how many people's souls he has had to absorb, including his dear friends Pip and Gamora.

The Annual ends with Warlock being greeted with open arms by his friends and the others he has absorbed. It turns out that Soul World is actually a great place to be and for the first time, Adam is happy. But there is one more story to be told in this first era of Warlock and Thanos.


Marvel Two-In-One Annual # 2: One last hooray

Writer - Jim Starlin

Penciler - Jim Starlin

Artist - Jim Starlin


I am so impressed by the lengths that Jim Starlin is going to so he can tell his story. This story has been told throughout Iron Man, Thor, Captain Marvel, Marvel Premiere, Warlock, Strange Tales, an Avengers Annual, and a Marvel Two-In-One Annual. I'm also proud to have tracked this all done to outline this a single narrative.

Following Avengers Annual # 7, Thanos captured the Avengers.

Spider-Man and the Thing teamed up (Marvel Two-In-One) to rescue the Avengers and now all of them are fighting him.

For all their combined might, they were losing.

The Cosmic entities of Lord Chaos and Master Order are speaking to Spider-Man through his Spider-Sense, urging him to destroy the Soul Gem (which for some reason is a giant orb now and sitting out in the open.

By destroying the Soul Gem, Warlock is resurrected now for the second time to defeat Thanos.

Warlock turns Thanos to Stone and at this point he is officially dead. Warlock retreats back to the Soul Gem.


When next we pick up Starlin's stories, we get to meet the Silver Surfer where the return of Thanos is played out, leading to the Infinity Gauntlet! I hope you're having as much fun as me!


Previous Post - 71: UXM 265 - 269 (Gambit)


Next Post - 73: UXM #270 - 272 (X-Tinction Agenda)