A Multiverse Imperiled in Thanos: The Infinity Conflict
Grew up reading comic books in the 90’s. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel’s cosmic universe are my favorites.
The saga of Marvel’s notorious Titan continues in Thanos: The Infinity Conflict. The second chapter in Jim Starlin’s latest Thanos epic sees the Mad Titan transformed, in a battle set on the grandest cosmic stage yet. ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look.
Writer, artist, and creator Jim Starlin has been Thanos’ primary shepherd since the Mad Titan’s creation in 1973. 45 years later Jim Starlin began his final Thanos story with The Infinity Siblings released last April, the first chapter in a new trilogy. The second chapter in Starlin’s Thanos trilogy manifests under the title: The Infinity Conflict.
Building upon the 45-year saga, The Infinity Conflict touches on Thanos’ past, present, and future. Thanos’ greatest battle comes to a head culminating in a confrontation with himself and the goals he always thought he wanted. But people change. Our goals change. And what Thanos once wanted he no longer desires.
Destiny has other plans for Thanos. Can the Mad Titan resist his mad ambitions?
Thanos had found contentment at Mistress Death’s side. Experience and personal growth had taken away his mad desires of old. In a quest for something more, Thanos left the realm of Death, returning to the living world. Soon the Titan found himself possessed, a puppet of a nigh-omnipotent future version of himself. His will and actions were no longer his own, forced to destroy everything he held dear in pursuit of a mad dream he no longer wanted. But does the Titan have the strength to defeat himself?
One of the aspects that makes Thanos a unique and intriguing character is that he has been primarily written by the same author throughout his 45-year existence. As a result, the character has changed and grown alongside Jim Starlin himself.
The Infinity Siblings saw Thanos in an unusual place in his life: content. The Infinity Conflict strips Thanos of his newly discovered peace, the perpetrator being Thanos’ future self. This next incarnation still possesses the same obsession and thirst for power as the Thanos of old. The Thanos of the present finds himself in conflict with his old desires and his newfound wants.
Sometimes we are our own worse enemy.
Starlin adds yet more depths and humanity to Thanos with this story. The Mad Titan is unable to stop “himself” from heading back down his power-hungry path despite knowing it to be the wrong path. Thanos finds himself a slave to himself (metaphorically realised in a dark future version of himself). Starlin has once again taken a far removed character and somehow managed to render Thanos relatable.
All of this is set to a wonderfully cosmic and esoteric backdrop. Starlin’s boundless imagination is once again on full display. Instead of attaining infinite power, Thanos is becoming power. Thanos here is assuming the roles of the cosmic abstracts (conceptual beings personified). First, Thanos slays Death, gaining her strength and understanding her place among the theoretical. Next, he targets other celestial beings working his way up the hierarchy.
This conceptual amalgam results in the death of everything, complete multiversal eradication. The last time Thanos achieved such heights was in the story Marvel: The End. There Thanos himself restored reality, finding complete non-existence hollow and unfulfilling. Here Starlin removes that solution by stripping Thanos of his free will, a slave of someone else.
The Infinity Conflict also continues the evolution of Eros, Thanos’ brother. The Infinity Siblings saw Eros used to great effect, evolving his character beyond anything previously done with him. Starlin elevates Eros to Adam Warlock’s level, a character outside the norm such as Warlock and Thanos. The story teases Eros being key to Thanos’ defeat.
The fate of all that is and all that ever will befall upon the unique trio of Warlock, Eros, and Pip the Troll.
Industry super star, Alan Davis beautifully renders this wildly imaginative and far out story. Davis collaborated with Starlin on the mini-series The Infinity Entity (a bridging story between The Infinity Relativity and The Infinity Finale). Davis also provided the pencils for the previous chapter The Infinity Siblings.
Alan Davis doesn’t miss a step here. The artist brings an incredible amount of detail to the backgrounds, even recalling a few esoteric landscapes from Marvel’s past. Davis successfully recreates Steve Ditko’s iconic multidimensional plane from the early Doctor Strange stories as well as Ron Lim’s realm of Mistress Death and more. The artistic continuity on display is astounding.
Equally impressive and just as important are the character renderings. Davis achieves a fantastic level of emotion throughout the book. The characters convey a wide range of emotions through body language and facial expressions. Davis’ pencils, Mark Farmer’s inks, and Jim Campbell’s colours add significant weight to the story.
As the second chapter to a trilogy, The Infinity Conflict doesn’t suffer from the typical pitfalls of the of a middle part. The characters continue to change and evolve, and the story continually forges ahead as opposed to a sequel that spins its wheels.
It will be fascinating to see how Starlin resolves the story as Thanos appears to have achieved a level of power hitherto unrealized before.
This story also presents an interesting parallel to Mark Gruenwald’s Quasar story, Cosmos In Collision. In that story the villain Maelstrom absorbs the powers of conceptual beings much like Thanos has here, the resulting devastation dwarfing the ability of even the Infinity Gauntlet. It would be a welcomed piece of continuity and nod to the fans if the next chapter in this trilogy included Maelstrom and the conceptual being Oblivion.
The Infinity Siblings and The Infinity Conflict have set up a wild and cosmic story epic in scope. Let’s hope Jim Starlin has an equally fantastic finale in store, worthy of a grand send-off to the Mad Titan he helped create 45 years ago.
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Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche
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