Thursday, April 26, 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: Cyclops 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Thanos 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Scarlet Witch 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting: Thanos 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Scarlet Witch 7 (Cosmic Power)
Total: Thanos 34 (Super)

Wolverine went it alone for the fifth wave of attack against Thanos, paying a dear price for his berserker hubris. The sixth wave response consists of a super-powered quartet: Scarlet Witch, Cyclops, Iron Man, and Vision!

Iron Man participated in the opening shots that were easily avoided by the Infinity Gauntlet's influence over time, space, and reality. It was that moment that led Thanos to fight without cosmic omnipotence, which means the greatly enhanced strength and firepower of the Iron Man armor could make an impact. That was presumably why Drax recruited him way back in Thanos' first appearance, in Iron Man #55.

We've seen shellhead throw his weight around against plenty of esoteric and super-heavyweight foes: The Mandarin [Iron Man #312], Diablo [Iron Man #159], Doctor Doom [Mighty Avengers #10], The Destroyer [Thor #1], Juggernaut [Thunderbolts #150], and Hulk [Iron Man #2] all on the record!

Iron Man's android teammate Vision showed his ability to cause problems for Thanos in the third wave. The ability to manipulate his density allowed for an effective in-and-out strategy that caught the Mad Titan by surprise. If he could phase into Thanos' body and become solid, the potential for physical damage seems high. His laser attack also worked well. Potential good news for Cyclops.

Most of these attacks address the physical plane, but Scarlet Witch and her mutant hex powers bleed into the realm of esoteric mysticism. Before Mephisto convinced Thanos to give humanity a chance, he showed an interest in Scarlet Witch, casting Thanos' attention to Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock as if in misdirection for a potentially potent player.

Thanos has played fast and loose with just how much rope he's willing to give the heroes, but Scarlet Witch could be the one most able to dramatically alter the playing field herself. Over a decade after this, all it would take is a single utterance for her to completely re-write reality [in House of M]!

The only thing worse than fighting Thanos is talking about House of M, so it's time to end the recap and speculation. Let's get on with the fight!

The Tape: Scarlet Witch, Cyclops, Iron Man & Vision Ranking: Iron Man (#3)

What Went Down...
Cyclops and Scarlet Witch launch a two-pronged energy attack that strikes at Thanos from both sides. He endures the incredible forces, turning to presumably address the greater threat posed by Scarlet Witch. From the sidelines, Starfox laments the hopeless disparity of their respective powers.

Thanos returns fire with beams of energy projected from his forehead. Cyclops piles on the power, pressing closer to the Mad Titan, while Thanos gradually pushes Scarlet Witch's hex powers back upon their source!

His powers seemingly infinite as they are - Thanos inevitably overwhelms the Scarlet Witch. She is helpless as the raw energies destroy her!

With the nature of his attack dependent on his gaze - Cyclops has no choice but to bare witness the horrifying death. He yells his fellow mutant's name, unleashing the awesome force of his ruby optic blasts as Thanos faces him!

In an incredible act of restraint - Cyclops suddenly cuts off his attack!

The unexpected halt in energy leaves Thanos leaning towards empty space. He almost loses his balance as the absence of pressure leaves him off-kilter and vulnerable to the incoming golden Avenger that is Iron Man! He blasts!

The brunt of Iron Man's blast catches Thanos unprepared, but the element of surprise flows both ways! With the powers of the gauntlet Thanos created a perfect bride, who leaps across the battlefield to tackle Iron Man in mid-air!

While Terraxia grapples with the armored Avenger; Thanos returns his focus to the mutant menace. Cyclops opens fire with a laser-focused optic beam. It finds its target, but does little to dissuade Thanos from his renewed aggression.

Perhaps drawing inspiration from Cyclops' own tactic, Thanos conjures a cube around the X-Man's head -- cutting off his optic beams at mere inches!

Cyclops drops to his knees, clutching at the energy cube that denies him a means of attack -- and the intake of oxygen!

Captain America rushes toward the suffocating mutant, while the eerie android Vision attempts to capitalize upon the distraction. The ghostly figure emerges from the nearby solid steps in situ behind Thanos. He won't be fooled twice!

Having fallen for the same attack before, this time Thanos is prepared. He swings violently to turn the tables on Vision -- plunging a massive fist into the synthezoid's chest! He pulls at bio-organic innards, ensuring Vision's death!

Another hero falls as Captain America solemnly confirms the suffocating death of Cyclops. His shield, unable to crack the energy cube formed around the dead man's head. Though tragic, it allows another hero to attempt a new ambush...

The Hammer...
The consequences of failure are clearly becoming more dire! With victory over this sixth wave, Thanos has struck three major heroes from the battlefield: Scarlet Witch, Cyclops, and Vision -- all lying dead!

The synthetic nature of Vision leaves hope that he may be somehow recovered, but the cruel way Cyclops was killed must strike at the very psyche of the assembled heroes! The abrupt end to Scarlet Witch also strikes a chilling blow, given her potential to have a major influence on the outcome of events!

After Mephisto singled Scarlet Witch out earlier, it seemed like she might be a much bigger player. Her time in the conflict amounts to a single page! Even after this many waves of offense, Starlin and co continue to twist the knife, and toy with the expectations of readers who must presume the heroes win.

To this point we haven't had reason to acknowledge the presence of other entities on Thanos' platform. His brother Starfox has been tortured witness to the fray, while the living-corpse of would-be daughter Nebula shambles seemingly aimless around the periphery.

Terraxia The Terrible is new life created by Thanos in Infinity Gauntlet #3. She is his vision of a perfect woman, created out of spite for the reserve of an unimpressed Lady Death. He claims Terraxia's warmth and devotion render his love of Death irrelevant, but these are the impetuous claims of a scorned lover.

Terraxia took Iron Man out of the fight, but their skirmish continues separate from subsequent waves of attack against Thanos. Within this context, both hero and villain will be acknowledged here with an assist stat, pending separate examination in a future featured fight.

If I haven't remembered to edit in a link to their battle, you should be able to find it by following the Terraxia character tag, or by referencing sequential links listed by Infinity Gauntlet in the Secret Index. It should be the ninth link listed. [Or advance to the next fight right here!]

You can see the battle in its entirety by picking yourself up a collected edition of The Infinity Gauntlet. Using the Amazon link provided won't just give you the entire classic story in one volume! It'll also help support the site at no extra cost to you!

Follow Secret Wars on Infinite Earths on Twitter and Facebook to get daily links to fights inspired by the topics of the day. That means the rest of the Infinity Gauntlet and beyond! A like, share, and retweet is a great way to join the fight!

Winner: Thanos (w/ Terraxia)
#20 (+12) Thanos [+3 kills]
#73 (--) Cyclops
#368 (-9) Vision
#375 (-6) Scarlet Witch
#3 (--) Iron Man [+1 assist]
#530 (new) Terraxia [+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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