Silver Surfer # 34 - 39
Thanos Quest 1 - 2
Silver Surfer # 40 - 50
The Mutant Misadventures of Cloak and Dagger # 18
Jim Starlin's story continues! This is a direct continuation of my last Infinity Gauntlet Prep blog (72: Infinite Gauntlet Prep: Meet Thanos and Adam Warlock). In that original post, we saw the origins of Thanos, Adam Warlock, Drax, Gamora, Pip, and many others told over the pages of numerous different titles.
Here we see that Jim Starlin is given the reigns of the Silver Surfer and he takes off right away, telling the story of Thanos and his search for power.
Silver Surfer # 34 - 38 - Thanos Re-Awakens
To set the scene, the Silver Surfer is having a dream of being in Death's lair (The Hall of Death). While he's definitely sleeping, he knows that what he's witnessing is real.
Death bring Thanos back to life. If you recall, the last time we saw Thanos he had been killed by Adam Warlock in Avengers Annual # 7 (as covered in 72: Infinite Gauntlet Prep: Meet Thanos and Adam Warlock)).
So we learn that Death is bringing Thanos back to life because she thinks there is a cosmic imbalance that could doom the entire universe.
I find this fascinating because of the live action Avengers movies (Infinity War, Endgame) where this was portrayed. I had read the Infinity Gauntlet countless times, but I have never before read these issues leading up to it. When I watched the movies, I always assumed that this was something they changed. I knew Thanos wanted to kill a lot of people to please Lady Death, but I didn't know that the 50% number was specifically brought up in the comics in response to a cosmic imbalance. Pretty cool. This means that the only thing changed for the movies was the removal of the Death character.
The Silver Surfer is identified as being Thanos's chief adversary. In addition, they are all aware that he is there watching even though it's only in a dream.
At the end of the issue, Thanos finds SS and confronts him.
Thanos never does anything for his own satisfaction. He always needs an audience. In this case, he decides to show the Surfer why he plans on destroying so many lives. They are taken to earth and he shows the Surfer the future impacts of overpopulation. Predictably, SS doesn't see this as a justifiable reason to obliterate half the universe.
We spend an entire issue where SS goes to find the Avengers to learn about his backstory. My own recap does a better job than this issue does! At the end, SS is visited by the ever annoying Impossible Man. The end goal is that the Impossible Man wants the SS to learn how to relax. He is quite the uptight hero.
To continue his quest to learn more about Thanos, the SS visits Thanos' father Mentor on Titan.
At this time, Drax the Destroyer shows up. You may recall that Drax was killed, along with Thanos and Adam Warlock (sucked into Soul Gem). We were introduced to Drax as a being created to keep Thanos in check, so with Thanos being brought back to life, Drax was dragged back into existence to oppose him, but the SS notes that he's different.
Drax comes back with a severely limited intellect. This ends up being the default state for Drax all the way up until present day. The movies depict Drax as being dumb due to his ability to understand metaphors but in the comics, he's just straight up ill witted.
Thanos shows up on his old ship, which is currently being Captained by his grand-daughter, Nebula. I briefly ran into Nebula during the Avengers #260 during Secret Wars 2 (covered in 31: UXM 196 - 197 (Secret Wars 2 # 1 - 3)).
Thanos doesn't believe that Nebula is related to him, nor does he like how she is speaking to him, so he burns her alive. The rest of the crew is quick to support him again.
Nebula runs off screaming and on fire.
We see that a member of the crew actually takes pity on Nebula, extinguishes her, and she lives as a burned husk.
At the end of SS # 38, Thanos and SS face off and SS believes he killed him. We'll learn soon that he actually faked his own death to buy him some time without anyone breathing down his neck.
Thanos Quest # 1 - 2: Power is Acquired
This was a super fun two issue miniseries focused on how Thanos went about getting the 6 Infinity Gems. We saw in the pages of Silver Surfer that he was brought back to life to help obliterate half of the world's population, but this shows how he came across the idea and how he acquired the 6 stones.
So first Thanos peers into the Infinity Well (not sure what is) and he comes up with his grand plan.
Thanos decides that if he is to kill half of all life in the universe, this would take hundreds of years unless he finds away to greatly augment his powers.
He brings up the idea that he will go out and collect the world's 6 soul gems, which in this miniseries he goes on to start calling Infinity Stones.
There is actually a mini backstory to the Infinity Stones offered. Apparently before the Universe existed as is, there was a single all powerful creature. He was essentially lonely so he decided to commit cosmic suicide. His death created the entire universe and his power was broken down into the 6 Infinity Gems.
Thanos starts by going to the In-Betweener, who is currently in possession of the Soul Gem. I know Warlock is inside of the Soul Gem, but I'm not sure how the In-Betweener became in possession of it. I'm also not sure how this happened, but he got imprisoned in a bubble by cosmic entities, Lord Chaos and Master Order.
Thanos suggests that if the In-Between fires his power at the inside while Thanos blasts away on the outside, he may be able to free him. He's correct and this does free him. Unfortunately for the In-Betweener, he learns to his demise that his powers did not exist outside of the bubble prison, leaving Thanos to easily take the Soul Gem.
Thanos leaves him in this space without a way to escape, leaving us to assume he may trapped forever.
Many of the Soul Gems are held by ancient, Immortal beings known as Elders. An Elder named Champion wields the Power Gem. Thanos actually goads him into a fight as part of his evil plan.
In order to beat Thanos, the Champion lands a blow so powerful that it destroys the very planet they on (which is what the Champion was supposed to be protecting). Thanos, the asshole that he is, tells the Champion that he may be alive (due to being immortal, but now he's going to be floating in space for a few million years. Thanos offers to give him a ride in exchange for the Power Gem. Thanos acquires the Gem and then technically honors the deal, but only drops the Champion off in the upper atmosphere of a nearby planet.
The next Elder in possession of a stone is the Gardner, who was using the Time stone to grow plants.
A recurring theme is that the stone's owners don't necessarily understand the full potential of the stone they have. In this case, the gardener just thought he was growing plants fast, but in reality he was speeding up time to get the plants to grow faster.
Thanos begins by trying to reason with the gardener, but when it becomes clear that won't work, Thanos uses the Power Gem to greatly increase the Time Gem's effectiveness, ultimately leading the plants the Gardener was growing to take over his own body. Thanos now has 3 stones.
Another Elder named "The Runner" has the space stone. Apparently he was only using it to run very fast, when in reality what he was doing was bending space to help him teleport without realizing it.
Thanos uses the time stone against him to greatly accelerate his aging. Telling the Runner that he isn't actually immortal, he can just live for a long time. So in this, he leaves him in an emaciated state, leaving it easy to take the reality stone from him.
Thanos agrees to reverse the aging, but being an asshole, he actually sends him back to that of a baby.
What I didn't show you earlier was that Thanos had been trying to bargain with the Collector earlier to get the reality gem. Thanos ends up taking the runner and presenting him to the Collector, correctly assuming that he couldn't pass up having a baby elder in his collection.
The final of the 6 is the Mind Stone, currently held by an Elder named The Grand Master. He is someone who considers himself to be the smartest schemer in the world. Thanos challenges him to a game. They both agree to go in a virtual reality contest where there is a very close battle. Thanos actually loses, but it turns out this was a trick.
Thanos wasn't really the one in the game, it was actually a robot (a trick Thanos uses a lot). So while the Grand Master is in the game, the real Thanos took the mind gem from him. Giving him all 6 Infinity Stones.
After gaining all 6 gems, Death's informant tells Thanos that she can never speak to him. Since he has all this power now, he is now her Superior in the pecking order and it would be disrespectful for her to speak to her betters.
Thanos isn't happy about this.
Lol. He blows him up. Thanos is pissed at himself for not thinking of this. At this point, he's getting pretty tried of Death's antics. She's still never spoken to him directly, but he goes on loving her regardless. This begins the era where Thanos has all 6 stones.
Silver Surfer 40 - 43: Dynamo City
At this point, the SS, Mentor, Eros, and Drax all think Thanos is dead.
A robot shows up asking the SS if he wants to attend the Last Will and Testament to Thanos. Apparently Thanos was a citizen of Dynamo City.
Here is Dynamo City.
This turns into a 3 issue arc that I'm going to summarize. While I found these 3 issues super entertaining, they don't impact the Infinity Gauntlet storyline much so I'll be quick.
Basically, this was a trick. As soon as the SS entered the city, his power was removed. Then it turned out that the city was a horrible place, run by emotionless beauracratic robots who were basically making identured servants out of all it's citizens. For a while he has to get a job, live with other slaves, and scheme pointlessly to get out. Eventually be meets a friend who has an idea...he should agree to be terminated.
Being terminated does the trick! They both got sucked out into space, but whereas that kills most people, this actually gave SS his powers back. His friend was choking to death, but SS was able to save him and learn that this was the gamble all along.
Silver Surfer 44 - 45: The Infinity Guantlet
Thanos tests out his newfound power by torturing Drax and the SS.
Thanos learns that Nebula is still alive, and being the asshole that he is, decides to make sure she stays alive to continue suffering as a burned husk. This will prove to be very important later on.
Mephisto seeks out Thanos and begs to serve by his side.
Mephisto tries to prove his worth by telling Thanos of things he didn't know, such as the original being who made up the universe also made Mephisto's universe separately.
Mephisto, also an asshole, convinces Thanos to use his gauntlet to connect with every being in existence at once.
This causes his body to go inert and it doesn't take long for Mephisto to steal the gauntlet.
It doesn't work. Thanos suspected treachery and takes it back. He decides to keep Mephisto around thought because he amuses him and can provide some value.
Silver Surfer 46 - 50: Adam Warlock and the Saga begins
Drax and the SS were pulled into Soul World at the conclusion of their fight.
Gamora, Pip, Kray-Tor, and all the others pulled into the Soul Gem are waiting for them.
They find that the Soul Gem world is led by none other than Adam Warlock. Drax is determined to get out of Soul world, so he sets out to destroy it. This sets of a long battle between the two of them.
Warlock is able to beat Drax in hand to hand combat, showing off his power level.
Warlock agrees to send the two of them back to their bodies outside of Soul World.
While in Soul World, SS learned that his soul had been altered. He goes back to confront Galactus, who admits that he changed the Surfer when he transformed him into his herald, making him less compassionate (to make it easier for him to allow Gallactus to destroy worlds). Galactus takes this soul modification back and SS suddenly feels the full weigh of the actions he has taken throughout his life.
This makes me wonder if this was also an editorial decision. The SS is very uptight. They had the Impossible Man comment on it, and now he's had it removed. Is this Starlin trying to act on concerns that his character isn't relatable?
In the final issue before the Infinity Gauntlet begins, Thanos sends a Golem version of himself to fight the SS and to give him heads up about what he is going to do. Thanos doesn't want to just kill half of life, he wants to do it in spectacular fashion. This leaves the SS in a weakened state, which is where we pick up in Infinity Gauntlet as he crashes into Dr. Strange's house.
In a crossover event taking place within Cloak and Dagger, we see that Mephisto had Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, Cloak, and Dagger in his grasp, but he left suddenly to attend to Thanos. I always found this interesting because it shows us that Mephisto truly is serving Thanos, willing to leave important matters for him. And in this case, Thanos didn't need anything important, he was just carving his face into a planet...
This all leads directly into Infinity Gauntlet, which I'll cover the next time I jump into the cosmic coverage.