And here we are, the final chapter of Jim Starlin's 3 part Infinity Event: The Infinity Crusade. If you want to catch up on what came before, you can read about the origins of Thanos and Adam Warlock in Infinite Gauntlet Prep: Meet Thanos and Adam Warlock. Further, you can catch up with the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War. In this final chapter, Adam Warlock's female benevolent side, the Goddess (which was split out from core Adam to allow AW to serve as a logical God at the conclusion of the Infinity Gauntlet), is hell bent on ending all crime, hate, and negativity in the universe by force and it's up to the heroes (and anti-heroes) of the universe to stop her!
This event also provides the introduction to the Adam Warlock solo series the Warlock Chronicles, which joins Warlock and the Infinity Watch as another recurring cosmic, Jim Starlin comic. It's the 90's comic bubble, so this is part of the "flood the market with as many comics as possible" campaign being executed by Marvel. This comic is trippy, cosmic, and fun and I'm super curious to see where it takes Adam after the event is done.
One thing about events that could be annoying (since it delays my X-Men comic journey), but I choose to embrace, is being able to check in with other titles and heroes along the way. This event has helped me to learn more about a few KEWL 90's heroes who I plan on covering in blog format one day. I'm referring to Darkhawk, Deathlok, Sleepwalker, Moon Knight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ghose Rider, and perhaps even the New Warriors.
One critique that I've had from the last two events (Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War) is that the non cosmic heroes are typically short changed. This was on display during the Infinity War when there were these random dopplegangers they were all fighting and they clearly had very little impact on the larger narrative. I think that this one does a better job with that because the Goddess is only as strong as her followers. It's clear that she needs the lower tier heroes to support her or else she can't be as powerful. The flip side of this is that the cosmic characters like Thanos, Mephisto, Silver Surfer, and Adam Warlock are really given the chance to shine, especially Thanos. It's pretty fascinating to see him as a truly nuanced character, clearly reformed but not without his evil tendencies.
I'm also curious about whether or not Starlin was attempting to challenge religion. I honestly wouldn't be surprised to learn that Starlin is an athiest who used this comic to challenge organized religion. I equally wouldn't be surprised to learn that Starlin is devoutly religious, but the topic of religion just happened to be a good plot point to explore for this character. Regardless, this comic leans hard into commentary and criticism of organized religion and you can't help but finding yourself questioning whether all religions aren't nearly as benevolent as they make themselves out to be.
Overall, I'm conflicted on whether this event was actually good. I'm pretty sure this was better than Infinity War, which I really didn't like. But how much better? I'm still trying to decide. As mentioned, I felt that Starlin made better use of the less cosmic heroes, so that made it more enjoyable. I loved the use of Thanos. I think perhaps that I'm growing sick of the drama with Adam Warlock and possibly didn't need an entirely new event with him at the middle of it. Unlike a character like Thanos from The Infinity Gauntlet, The Goddess is utterly forgettable, just like the Magus. Oh well, let's get into it!
Block 1: The time between events
This block includes all of the cosmic stories taking place between Infinity War and the upcoming Infinity Crusade.
The first batch of comics takes place within Warlock and the Infinity Watch # 11 - 17. We start off with Eternity trying to convince the Living Tribunal that the Infinity Watch is not qualified to be holding the Infinity Stones, but this request is denied and they are allowed to continue.
We are given a little reminder that Drax's backstory was recently retconned and his "spirit" came from an Earthling, who happens to be Moondragon's father. Small world, I know. The series will play with this a little, but Drax has not been informed that "Bald Lady" is his daughter through my current reading. There is a lot of Drax as we see a fun, yet unimportant battle between him and Hulk. The UN tries to take over Monster Island (the island led by Mole Man where the Infinity Watch is currently holding it's base of operations).
A new character named Maxam shows up on Monster Island. Maxam is super strong (something about density manipulation) and has no memory of who he is, but we get the impression something is off about him because Gamora has a vision of him standing over Warlock's dead body. This plotline has not been resolved through my current reading.
Warlock had actually been comatose following the events of the Infinity War, but Eternity (who Starlin is clearly trying to establish a relationship between these two characters) wakes him up and warns him about 5 important entities that he will come into contact with. While the next few series introduces Count Abyss and an army of demons (Count Abyss being one of the 5 entities), I don't know if this story is getting dropped or something because I haven't heard a peep about this through my current reading.
There is also a 4 issue miniseries titled Silver Surfer/ Warlock Resurrection. This is a drawn out story which covers the following points worth mentioning:
Silver Surfer's wife, Shalla Bal had died in a separate series of events, but is brought back to life via this series.
Mephisto gets involved and this series shows a battle between Mephisto and AW (Adam Warlock) where AW wins within Mephisto's fiery domain.
And Finally, I'm covering Quasar # 41 - 43. Quasar had died during the final assault in Infinity War. This was a pretty cool little run of issues that shows us how he was resurrected. His soul gets sent to this mysterious White Room (Pergatory?) where all the original holders of the quantam bands remain, however Thanos is able to break in and break him out (more or less).
Block 2: Infinity Crusade # 1
And now we enter the events of Infinity Crusade # 1 and the comics that tied into the event between this one and IC # 2.
If you recall, Adam Warlock split himself into 3 parts at the conclusion of the Infinity Gauntlet, expelling all good and evil within him to help him rule as God using only logic. The events of the Infinity War showed us what happened when his evil counterpart, the Magus tried to rule the universe. Infinity Crusade # 1 introduces us to "The Goddess," who is the incarnation of "Good" living within AW's soul. As you can guess, the goodness isn't quite a good thing.
The Goddess kidnaps AW so he can't interfere and reaches out to all heroes throughout the universe who have ever showed faith. For instance, Storm has always asked the Goddess for guidance throughout her time in the X-Men comic. Storm actually asks her if she has been the one she prayed to all along, and part of the manipulation is letting those with faith assume she is the one they should be praying to. Another example is Hercules, who obviously has faith because he is a God himself and knows Gods exist, therefore he is one of the heroes easily manipulated. This makes me wonder if Starlin is attempting to challenge organized religion or if that is just an accidental bi-product of a good idea he had for a cosmic comic.
Iron Man # 294 - 295 plays with this concept showing the Goddess trying and failing to woo Iron Man. We see that Iron Man puts his faith in technology over faith and is therefore immune to her attempts. We also learn that all other heroes who had died at some point (I guess Tony had died and come back to life at some point) have been more easily converted to her cause.
Warlock and the Infinity Watch # 18 shows us that Gamora and Moondragon willingly went with the Goddess, and Moondragon will serve as the right hand (wo)man of the Goddess throughout the series. With AW, Gamora, and Moondragon all gone, Pip concludes that he is the next one in line to lead the team. This begins a long running theme throughout this event that shows Pip as being conceited, selfish, and feeling like a perpetual victim.
Doctor Strange: Sorcere Supreme # 54 shows us that DS is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme at this point. He actually battles the Ancient One in an attempt to get help from Eternity against the Goddess. Eternity gives him all the knowledge he seeks, but then erases his memory. DS will soon become one of the converted.
Thor # 463 & 464 show us a love triangle between the Goddess and the Valkyrie. Apparently Thor had recently accepted his love for the Valkryie, but now he falls victim to her manipulation (he also believes in God, being one himself and is therefore susceptible).
Finally, we get Warlock Chronicles # 1, a new series by Jim Starlin focuses solely on Adam Warlock. After being awoken by Eternity and kidnapped by the Goddess, AW wakes up in a realm between worlds. He eventually finds some mysterious travelers (including a one eye mystic) and after conversing with the Soul Gem itself, he learns that the Reality Gem is tearing a hole in our universe (our reality).
Block 3: Infinity Crusade # 2
The Infinity Crusade # 2 shows us the first part of the Goddesses plan as she uses a large collection of cosmic containment units (Cosmic cubes?) to end all crime in the universe.
Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme # 55 introduces us to a new version of Doctor Strange, who apparently escaped from Counter Earth. You can learn more about Counter Earth in Infinite Gauntlet Prep: Meet Thanos and Adam Warlock. I'm pretty sure this character ends up going by "Strange" and has some staying power because I used to have a super hero trading card with this character on it.
Thor # 465 shows Thor battling the Super Skrull on behalf of the Goddess. Darkhawk # 30 and Cage # 17 show us what's happening at the street level now that all crime is abolished. Criminals are all stopping in their tracks and setting their bad deeds aside. In Marc Spector: Moon Knight # 57, Moon Knight's worth to the Goddess is tested as he is tasked to take down Spider-Man, however he fails and is ultimately deemed not worthy.
Warlock Chronicles # 2 shows us Lord Order and Master Chaos starting to intervene in events. We also learn, definitively, that Thanos wields the Reality Stone, so AW and Thanos team up to figure out why their reality is being torn apart.
Finally, we have Warlock and the Infinity Watch # 19. This issue continues the spotlight on Pip, this time as he is ambushed and given a bath by the heroes, further showing their lack of respect for him and continuing the gag that he needs a bath. We also learn that no one (not Thanos, Galactus, or the Celestials) except for Death truly know what the Goddess is up to.
Block 4: Infinity Crusade # 3
Things start picking up with Infinity Crusade # 3. As you come to expect with these events, all the heroes are coming together and arguing about how best to act. I think this time around Starlin is aware of the criticism that the regular heroes have a very small role compared to characters like Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock. They have a bit more of a role in this one, but still not gigantic.
Adam Warlock is once again working with Thanos and the two of them are offered assistance by Mephisto for a price. Thanos agrees to give Mephisto one of the cosmic containment units in exchange for his intel, however AW strongly disagrees.
The brainwashed/converted begin to plan an ambush attack on the unconverted (non brainwashed heroes). These events cause Silver Surfer to snap out of it and become free of the Goddesses enchantment. Professor X uses his psychic powers to talk to Moondragon while Pip stows away. We see that Pip tapped into the psychic conversation so he could find Moondragon, then using the Space stone, he teleports to the Goddess and touches the containment units (now in the shape of an egg), setting up the next Infinity Watch issue to show an all powerful Pip.
Warlock and the Infinity Watch # 20 shows us what happens when Pip becomes omnipotent. You can probably guess what happens. Before he decides to "be a hero," he makes sure he has the best clothes, cigars, booze, and ladies. It's tough to tell if he actually does these things or is just imagining it while he brainstorms what to do first. Regardless, it's short lived when Silhouette (the crippled heroin from New Warriors) protects the Goddess and separates Pip.
Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #56 and Avengers West Coast #97 both technically tie in, but these stories have little import to the larger crusade. Darkhawk # 31 shows us more of the heroes fighting amongst themselves. I have to admit, it is pretty fun taking some time to see their interactions and witness how self conscious Darkhawk is about truly belonging. Silver Surfer # 83 shows a battle between SS and Firelord, shortly after he becomes awakened.
Finally, Warlock Chronicles # 3 shows us more of Mephisto interacting with AW and Thanos. I love seeing Mephisto and his arrogance being repeatedly put in his place. First, Mephisto threatens Adam before being quickly reminded that AW absolutely put the smack down on him in his own realm! Then when Thanos gets tired of him, he tells him to be gone and teleports him away. Love it.
We also see AW going once more to Eternity for help, but finds him intertwined with another cosmic being named Infinity. This is my first time seeing Infinity and I'm interested in learning more about her. After meeting with Eternity, AW puts the success of the universe in Thanos's hand by giving him the Soul Gem. The Soul Gem immediately gets revenge on AW by absorbing him, but of course this is what AW was counting on.
Block 5: Infinity Crusade # 4
This block is a bit shorter as we get even closer to the conclusion of this event. Thanos, serving the same role as AW from the Infinity Gauntlet, begins putting the pieces into place to defeat the Goddess in the Infinity Crusade # 4. First, Thanos recruits the Silver Surfer. I just have to say that I love seeing how skeptical SS is of both Thanos (understandable) and Adam (interesting). Thanos convinces the SS to absorb ore cosmic energy than ever before and charge at Paradise Omega, the created home planet of the Goddess, Moondragon, and the converted heroes.
Additionally, Thanos helps the unconverted heroes approach Paradise Omega for an offensive. Thanos also takes a temporarily comatose Professor X for reasons yet unknown. Finally, we see what AW is up to within Soul World as he finds the Magus.
This plotline is picked up in Warlock Chronicles # 4. We learn that the Magus has been living in Soul world as a tortured Wraith. He is in the paradise of Soul World, but he isn't able to interact with any of it's inhabitants. AW offers Magus reintegration (and freedom from Soul World) to help him fight the Goddess, but the Magus decides to attack him instead. After a long battle, AW wins and the confrontation makes him realize that he can beat the Goddess without Magus's help.
Additionally, SS # 84 shows us what happens after the SS blows up a moon with all that stored up cosmic energy. Thanos didn't really care if he lived or died and this issue explores him being in a near death state, talking to his dead parents. He, of course, learns a lesson and comes back to life. After waking up, the Silver Surfer has a fun battle with Wonder Man and Storm in SS # 85.
Block 6: Infinity Crusade # 5
Infinity Crusade # 5 brings us the giant battle between converted and unconverted heroes. While the heroes are fighting, they start to realize that the sun is acting weird. Thanos comes to the realization that he fails and the sun is about to explode.
I loved reading Deathlok #28 where the Goddess visits Deathlok and he is excited to be chosen, but then she decides that she made a mistake and he's not actually worthy. Pretty cool idea that makes me want to read more Deathlok. Thor battles Drax in Thor # 466 and we see Spider-Man dukeing it out during Web of Spider-Man # 106
AW travels to the psychic plane during Warlock Chronicles # 5 where he's half himself, and half female as the Goddess. He encounters an old woman who is kind of like mother time or something? It's trippy. We learn that the Goddess has felt neglected by AW for centuries and now plans to get revenge by destroying the universe!
Everyone starts to suspect what's coming in Warlock and the Infinity Watch # 21 and 22. We see Thor snap out of while fighting Drax as he sees the Asgardian sun start to go supernova. Also, Moondragon gets a little suspicious when the Goddess mentions that she's bringing a rapture. The issues end with AW entering the Goddesses psyche.
Block 7: Infinity Crusade # 6
It all comes to an end with Infinity Crusade # 6. The first 20 pages are dedicated to us seeing the end of the universe. All of the suns explode and every living being is incinerated. It turns out that this was actually a trick and AW let every being see what was about to happen, before it did. With every being learning that their Goddess was about to destroy them, their faith is broken and the Goddess loses the power she needed to actually make it happen.
But this is just the start of the final battle as AW, Thanos, and Professor X (acting through Thanos) attack the Goddess on the psychic plane. Of course, the good guys win! We see that the Goddess has now joined the Magus as a wraith in Soul World. At the very end, Thanos honors his pledge and gives a containment unit to Mephisto, but the containment unit is drained. Thanos tricked the trickster!
Read about the origins of Thanos and Adam Warlock in Infinite Gauntlet Prep: Meet Thanos and Adam Warlock. Further you can catch up with the Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War.
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