Before we jump into the next big chapter of the Infinity Trilogy, make sure you are caught up with everything happened before:
Block 1: From the Gauntlet to the War
Warlock and the Infinity Watch # 1 - 6
When last we left off, Warlock had taken the Infinity Gauntlet for himself. Most of his fellow heroes were nervous about this development, however they knew there was nothing they could really do. This issues shows us that about 6 months had passed without Warlock destroying the universe, so most of the common characters are ready to move on, but the cosmic characters are not.
This first issue shows us the entirety of the Trial of Adam Warlock. To make a long story short, Eternity (the cosmic being who IS the whole universe) petitions the Living Tribunal (the cosmic being who sits in judgment of all) to remove the Gauntlet from Warlock. By the end of the trial, Adam Warlock agrees to remove himself from Godhood and split up the gems. Eternity is happy that Warlock needs to give up Godhood, but he's pissed that he doesn't get the gems for himself.
This second issue focuses on who gets each Infinity Gem.
Warlock will keep the soul gem since he's had that for years. No shock, Drax is chosen to hold the Power Gem. His buddy Pip gets the space gem (who mostly uses it to teleport). Moondragon, a telepath, gets the mind gem. Gamora gets the time gem. We also get shocked by him choosing Thanos to keep the reality gem.
# 3 - 6: The High Evolutionary and the Man Beast
Quick rundown here as these issues are a greatest hits of the O.G. Warlock stories. The High Evolutionary shows up, but he's gone mad since witnessing the birth of a Celestial. Pip steals a Quinjet (dude's hilarious). Some cyborg's are attacking the High Evolutionary, and it turns out that they are actually from Counter Earth. Speaking of Counter Earth, a new villain named the Omega shows up who ends up being none other than Warlock's old arch enemy, the Man-Beast.
Block 2: Infinity War Begins
This issue sets up the new status quo for the Infinity Watch as they set up shop in Mole Man's monster island. This seems like a really weird place to settle, but ok.
We check in with Thanos, who seems to really have changed his tune. We find him scanning the universe to make sure nothing is wrong, and of course, something is. Magus will be our central antagonist here (once again pulling from the O.G. Warlock stories) and his sidekick is a future version of Thanos who is apparently more like a slave. We also see the start of dopplegangers attacking the most popular Marvel heroes. Finally, Dr. Doom decides to partner with Kang the Conquerer to explore what's up with Magus.
These are the main set pieces for Infinity War, along with some things that will happen with Dr. Strange.
We saw a brief glimpse of dopplegangers attacking key super heroes, and in this issue of the FF we see a full comic of Mr. Fantastic being attacked and potentially replaced.
Galactus collects Dr. Strange claiming he is in need of a mage. This is the last set piece for Infinity War.
The Silver Surfer joins Gallactus, Dr. Strange, and Nova. The 4 of them will be investigating what is happening with Magus on their own.
Dr. Strange takes the foursome into other dimensions where Galactus goes to battle with the Agamotto himself, in the form of a week smoking centipede.
Block 3: Heroes Assemble
There are a few things going on at once. First, Mr. Fantastic gathers all of the known heroes together at Four Freedoms Plaza. The storyline with all the heroes and them facing their dopplegangers is really the story lacking much gravitas, however it brings all these heroes together so they had to do it. It turns out that Mr. Fantastic was switched (Wolverine called it out with his nose) and a Gamma bomb is set off, intending to kill all these heroes.
The real Thanos partners up with Warlock and the Infinity Watch as they look for intel on Magus at the Infinity Well. We learn that while Warlock was God, his essence of good and evil broke off leaving him able to use nothing but logic. The cost of this was the Magus being re-born when his evil side was shed.
The Galactus contigent finds the comic being Eternity comatose and are off looking for clues.
Doom and Kang are sneaking around, tracking Galactus.
Dr. Strange and friends are lost within realms and find themselves in the Cyttorak realm. If that sounds familiar, it's because Juggernaut gets his power from the Cyttorak Crystal. D.S. summons Juggernaut here and together they beat Cyttorak to allow themselves to be freed.
We learn that Sue had discovered the truth about Reed before the bomb went off and used her power to shield the heroes from the blast.
Block 4: Amazing Thanos Content
Adam Warlock is being whiny and complaining that he doesn't want to fight or be a hero. This seems to be a recurring theme with him.
As the large contingent of super heroes are alive, they use their mystics to travel where the fight is. This brings them straight to the Infinity Watch. Since they are working with Thanos, they assume they are all bad and a fight transpires.
Meanwhile. the Magus is aware of Galactus's contigent getting closer to him so he blows up their ship, killing all on board.
Doom and Kang were able to project where Gallactus was heading and are now able to be the first ones to show up to Magus.
Marvel Comics presents is an ongoing comic that features 3 different stories per issue. So even though Wolverine gets the cover, it's the story within about Thanos that is worth telling. And boy, it's one of the best Thanos stories I've ever read!
The story starts out with Death summoning Thanos. When he gets there, she speaks to him for the first time! This is a HUGE deal because she had never spoken to him before. While Thanos and Death are a dinner table chatting, Death tells Thanos that she will be with him if he agrees to kill Adam Warlock. I thought this was ingenious because we were just starting to see that Thanos was a changed man, so this adds some conflict! After giving it some thought, Thanos decides that he will not kill Death because of him being a changed man, due to the fact that he doesn't trust Death, and he has decided to throw his lot in with those trying to save the universe. Great stories!
This isn't a huge issue, but we do see Nova bragging about being the only team member to be invited on a space mission. Also, Speedball is attacked by his doppleganger.
Johnny Storm fights a group of doppleganger X-Men.
The biggest thing that happens during this issue is that they are waiting around. While waiting, Gamora and Thanos get into a super serious, but not totally real fight. This was working their animosity for each other out of their system. We get a little Gamora backstory, which is the same from the Guardians movie for the most part, where we find out that Thanos raised her like a daughter and truly does care about her.
So it turns out that Dr. Strange and the others really did die when the Magus blew up Galacus's ship, but Galacus is so powerful that he was working on bringing them all back to life. In the meantime, Lady Death is trying to convince Dr. Strange to stay dead but it doesn't work.
Block 5: The Plot thickens
The heroes who didn't go on the space mission are busy fighting their dopplegangers. The heroes who did go on the space mission finish up their fight with the Infinity Watch as Galactus arrives to tell them all what's going on.
Kang and Doom get to the Magus's location and find that his power source is actually 5 different cosmic cubes.
Thor is able to see the Magus's true plan as two realities begin to merge. We'll later find out the second reality is the one with counter earth in it.
Warlock convinces everyone to bring the Infinity Gauntlet back together and let him wield it, but after doing so it doesn't work because the Living Tribunal won't allow them to work as one anymore due to the events of the Trial of Adam Warlock.
Gallactus thinks he needs to change this decision, so he brings Gamora with him to speak to the Living Tribunal. Immediately after leaving, Magus shows up and kidnaps Warlock. It looks as though his plan all along was to get the good guys to put the Gauntlet back together and use Galactus to get it activated again.
The remaining heroes aren't sure what to do, however Thanos says he knows what needs to be done. Thanos chooses Quasar to be the one to fire Galactus's secret weapon at Warlock.
I love the Guardians of the Galaxy. So much. The team travels back to present day to meet the old Inhumans who need to save Talon (who is apparently an Inhuman). Dock Ock and other villains try to take Avengers mansion while the heroes are compromised but the GotG stop them.
The Living Tribunal will not reverse his decision unless Eternity agrees to do so. Galactus sends Gamora inside his consciousness to try to wake him up so this can be done. They are successful. You get more Gamora backstory here, which is nice.
Block 6: The trap is sprung
Picking up where the IW left off, Eternity wakes back up and agrees to activate the Gauntlet. This is exactly what the Magus wanted, but before he can take over, Doom and Kang attack him. Doom turns on Kang (of course) and Doom comes VERY close to getting the Gauntlet for himself, but misses the opportunity by a fraction of a second. The issue ends with Magus in possession of a working Infinity Gauntlet. Ut oh.
The two realities are getting closer to merging so the Marvel Universe Mystics (D.S., The Scarlett Witch, Agatha Harkness, Anthony Druid, and even Shaman from Alpha Flight) are on the case! They find all being on earth in a sort of stasis. They are aided by Sleepwalker, who is in connection with the hero telepaths (Professor X, Psylocke, Jean Grey, and Moondragon).
Dr. Strange runs into someone we think is his doppleganger, but is actually the Dr. Strange from Counter Earth who escaped before it was destroyed. He has thrown in his lot with the Magus and almost defeats our Dr. Strange, but of course didn't prevail. This is a pretty good story to tell the truth.
Sue Storm becomes her alter ego, Malic, for a bit but eventually everything is fine. Moving on.
A very impactful issue! Thanos meets up with the future slave that was working with Magus. They fight, then make a truce, then fight again. The Thanos we know wins and absorbs the other one, giving him all his memories.
Block 7: The End
A lot happens here, but essentially Warlock tricked Magus by keeping the reality stone all along. Magus was too drunk with power to recognize that he was missing one stone. The reality stone allows Warlock to defeat Magus and the conflict is over. The good side of Warlock (that split off when he was God) shows up at the end and I think she will be the antagonist of the next Infinity Crossover, Infinity Crusade.
We learn that Sue was actually sneaking around invisible during the final scenes. Among other things, she helped the real Thanos beat fake Thanos without either knowing it.
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