Friday, April 20, 2018

Cosmic Battle on the Edge of The Universe! (Marvel)
Infinity Gauntlet #4 When: October 1991
Why: Jim Starlin How: Ron Lim & George Perez

The Story So Far...
When the Silver Surfer crash lands to Earth through the roof of Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum -- he brings ominous warning of the greatest threat the universe has ever known! Thanos lives and has taken possession of the Infinity Gems of Soul, Mind, Power, Time, Reality, and Space to form the omnipotent Infinity Gauntlet!

The Mad Titan's mission is to eradicate half of all sentient life in existence! A feat he achieves in an instant with but a mere thought! His quest to court the mistress Death does not end there, though. His dominion is now all that exists in the known universe -- a reality, his to dominate and reshape!

Ripples of Thanos' power echo throughout the universe, causing mayhem and destruction on Earth, where the mightiest heroes assemble in conference to discuss the unknown threat. The unexpected arrival of Adam Warlock provides limited answers as he takes command, selecting a special task force to confront Thanos in a desperate ploy to save the universe from The Infinity Gauntlet!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Thanos 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Thanos 5 (Professor)
Speed: Firelord 5 (Super-Speed)
Stamina: Thanos 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Sub-Mariner 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Thanos 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Thanos 6 (Mass Destruction)
Total: Thanos 34 (Super)

The force assembled to take on Thanos is a who's who of heroes who survived his purge of half of all existing life! The collective is guided by Adam Warlock, with field command led by Captain America.

Their strategy involves multiple waves of attack, beginning with a heavy hitting first strike. Charged with firing this opening salvo is a trio of Avengers, with a former herald of Galactus: Iron Man, Thor, Sub-Mariner, and Firelord!

Firelord was once Pyreus Kril of the planet Xandar. He was a soldier of the Nova Corps, until his friend Gabriel Lan was abducted by Galactus. Kril doggedly pursued his friend, pledging his service to The Devourer of Worlds in exchange for knowledge of Gabriel's untimely demise as the short-lived herald Air-Walker.

Like others imbued with the Power Cosmic: Firelord possesses greatly enhanced strength, speed, and stamina. He also wields a staff in combat, able to channel cosmic fire through the weapon. He's used this power to battle opponents as powerful as: Ego The Living Planet, Phoenix, Silver Surfer, Nebula, and Thor!

Thor may appear to be part of this awesome foursome, but at this point in time, it was mortal Eric Masterson who was in possession of Mjolnir! He was given the full powers of the thunder god so as to protect Earth while the real Thor lived in exile - punishment handed down by Odin.

Masterson would eventually come to be better known as the mace-wielding Thunderstrike, but at this time, he's the next best thing to the god of thunder! He may lack the combat experience of the genuine article, but possesses all his godly strengths -- as long as he isn't separated from Mjolnir for sixty seconds!

That just leaves Iron Man and Sub-Mariner, who between them have registered notable victories against: Juggernaut, Doctor Doom, The Mandarin, Diablo, Axis Mundi, and other prominent opponents. We know them well!

Against any other opponent, they would be an intimidating force - but Thanos is no ordinary villain! We saw him swiftly defeat a manipulated Terrax [Green Lantern/Silver Surfer], and dominate the entire line-up of Guardians of the Galaxy [GOTG #25] without any enhancements!

In today's battle he has forged the famed Infinity Gauntlet: A glove wielding the combined powers of The Infinity Stones. These grant him command over the realms of Soul, Mind, Power, Time, Reality, and Space. He is nigh omnipotent!

The laws of reality are now within Thanos' jurisdiction - and unlike some who may wield the gauntlet, he has the wherewithal to fully comprehend and control the power at his finger tips. His influence is on a cosmic scale, making physical reality trivial in comparison. There's no greater example than his purging of half of living entities in the universe!

Among the heroes identified as missing, likely eradicated, are: Archangel, Beast, Black Cat, Black Panther, Box, Dagger, Daredevil, Diamond Lil, Firestar, Guardian, Hawkeye, Hercules, Human Torch, Iceman, Invisible Woman, Makkari, Marvel Boy, Marvel Girl, Mister Fantastic, Night Thrasher, Northstar, Power Man, Puck, Quicksilver, Sasquatch, Sersi, Shaman, Thing, USAgent, Vindicator, Wasp, Windshear.

Which brings us to the fight! If Thanos can erase all those heroes in an instant, the odds are clearly stacked against those that survived. Existence gives them the chance to confront Thanos on the physical plane, but with all the power at his disposal, the odds are not in their favour! Let the fight for life begin!

The Tape: Avengers & Firelord Ranking: Iron Man (#3)

What Went Down...
Delivered to Thanos' space shrine to Death by the magic of Doctor Strange; the heroes launch their carefully planned attack!

Iron Man, Firelord, Thor, and Sub-Mariner hurl themselves at the battlefield as the first wave. Each extends whatever influence they can before their airborne person! Thor tosses his mighty hammer, Firelord spews cosmic flame, and Iron Man lets loose with blasts from his armored gauntlets!

Only the noble Sub-Mariner leads the pure muscle, flying his body towards Thanos like a human missile! Four awesome attacks of pure brawn and energy certain to destroy any opponent -- assuming they ever connect!

With a simple snap of his fingers - The Mad Titan freezes time. Each threat hangs suspended in reality as Thanos moves freely amongst them. He smiles, confident in the transcendent knowledge of the Infinity Gauntlet's power.

The Titan walks among his first attackers and despairs. He'd hoped the universe would challenge him with so much more. He notes he could eradicate them in an instant. Such is the awesome omnipotence of The Infinity Gauntlet!

Spared the bondage of time and reality is Thanos' advisor - Mephisto - who draws his attention to two more existing beyond the gauntlet's influence. Adam Warlock and Silver Surfer loom over the battlefield in observation. The arrogant Thanos presumes their reservation to be a sign of intelligence. He contemplates their destruction - but Mephisto seizes his ear!

If omnipotence has failed to impress the mistress Death, perhaps an act of courage may improve his lot. Mephisto inspires a scenario where Thanos has severed his cosmic awareness, granting the barest chance of failure!

Only Thanos' brother Starfox notices Mephisto's mischief at work. He has saved the heroes from instant eradication, granting them their first sliver of hope. It is highly unlikely that Thanos' power will be overcome - but now there is a chance!

Thanos resumes the natural timeline by a simple act of will. No longer where he once stood; Mjolnir, Sub-Mariner, and the heroes' attacks crash into the stony matter of the strange space platform!

The Mad Titan lets out a bellowing laugh -- sufficiently distracted to be unaware of the next wave of assault coming behind him!

The Hammer...
It's no secret the mini-series' titular "Infinity Gauntlet" refers to a gem-studded glove worn by Thanos. What's a little less obvious is the existence of a second gauntlet: The running of the gauntlet by Thanos -- against some of the greatest heroes of the Marvel Universe -- in the pages of Infinity Gauntlet #4!

It was difficult to determine whether or not the battle should be examined as a single force in continuing attack, or a series of separate skirmishes.

This opening strike highlights the nature of the problem fairly well. The narrative perspective is told through Thanos, who can remove himself from normal time, and examine a frozen moment over multiple pages.

Each offensive is designed to flow as part of a larger plan hatched by Adam Warlock, but the overlap is minimal. Each wave is easily distinguished, with only a few fighters participating in multiple waves. Taken as a gauntlet of separate attacks, we'll be examining each wave as a featured fight.

As for this opening attack? Thanos may have had total manipulation of the battlefield, but this opening challenge resulted in no conclusive result.

I'm sure Sub-Mariner didn't particularly enjoy flying face-first into Thanos' platform, but he's faced far worse, and didn't have too much trouble smashing right through it. The other heroes involved were in no way impacted by their attacks missing the target. This is by definition an inconclusive draw!

Rest assured the battles that are coming will not end quite so ambiguously. The heroes have been given a chance to fight the impossible foe. We'll see just how successful they are as we return for daily Infinity Gauntlet updates!

You can follow Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook to help keep you abreast of subsequent updates. Those coming in late can check out the Secret Archive Index to find sequential links to each battled listed under Infinity Gauntlet in the Marvel section. I'll endeavor to make sure there are links to adjacent waves of attack for convenience. [See: Hulk & Drax vs Thanos]

If you'd like to witness every bitter blow and cosmic gesture - check out the collected edition of The Infinity Gauntlet! By shopping via the Amazon link provided, you not only get yourself a good deal - you help support Secret Wars on Infinite Earths at no extra cost!

For his role in inspiring their stay of execution, Mephisto will record an unlikely assist stat. The demon trickster is here as chosen advisor to Thanos, but it's clearly in his interest to stem the flow of evaporating souls.

Winner(s): Inconclusive (Draw)
#3 (--) Iron Man
#22 (--) Sub-Mariner
#410 (new) Thor (Eric Masterson)
#411 (new) Firelord
#353 (+2) Thanos
#144 (+31) Mephsito [+1 assist]

Infinity Gauntlet #4
Thanos runs the gauntlet of heroes in a special series spotlighting the classic cosmic showdown!
Versus Wave 1, Hulk & Drax, Wave 3, Thor & Dr. Doom, Wolverine, Wave 6, Cloak, Firelord & Drax, Iron Man, Spider-man & Thor, Nova, Quasar, Captain America

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