Tuesday, May 01, 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: Spider-man 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Thanos 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Spider-man 5 (Cat-like)
Fighting: Thanos 6 (Warrior)
Energy: Thanos 6 (Mass Destruction)
Total: Thanos 34 (Super)

After a brief detour we're back running the gauntlet with a tag team tussle of two-on-two! Thanos is joined by his wicked creation Terraxia for the ninth round! She first involved herself in the fracas during the sixth round, deviating to grapple with Iron Man until she literally ripped his head off!

Taking on the terrible twosome is a returning Thor, who lost contact with Mjolnir at the end of the fourth wave, but narrowly avoided suffocating in deep space, as mortal Eric Masterson, when the hammer returned during Drax & Firelord's attack! He only has 60 seconds to be separated from Mjolnir before he reverts to mortal form. As previously noted, the real Thor had been banished.

Swinging onto the battlefield is Spider-man, whose wall-crawling presence may've been noticed in the background of some of the previous battles.

The friendly neighbourhood Spider-man may seem a little out of his depth in deep space, but this is the same hero who famously acquired the Black Symbiote while fighting in the Secret Wars! The cosmic has a way of finding him, like the time the Uni-Power helped him defeat Magneto [Amazing Spider-man #237] and Loki's Tri-Sentinel [Amazing Spider-man #239]!

A combination of smarts, speed, agility, and spider-sense has routinely helped Spidey take down serious heavy-hitters! He famously out-smarted Juggernaut in Amazing Spider-man #230, but also teamed with DC's Wonder Woman to put down Juggernaut, and the New God Mantis, in Unlimited Access #1!

Wonder Woman once wielded Thor's hammer herself [Marvel versus DC #3], which is a very obtuse way of drawing a comparison to the potentially potent team-up between Spidey and Thor!

Spidey's ability to successfully impact or restrain Thanos and Terraxia is clearly where he falls down. He may have the proportionate strength of a spider, but that's not much more than an actual spider to these cosmic heavyweights! He can clearly out-maneuver and irritate, but Spider-man's greatest asset in a cosmic showdown may ultimately be his humanity! He showed that when facing Thanos' chosen advisor, Mephisto, in a forgotten '93 Marvel Holiday Special!

Terraxia's exact abilities are slightly unknown. She clearly shares a certain physiological similarity with Thanos, but there's insufficient evidence to presume equivalence. She clearly possess phenomenal strength and durability, but the stat most lacking in our Tape is energy projection. Which tips the predictive stats narrowly in favoure of the Thor & Spider-man combination!

As far as the record is concerned; Spider-man is the #2 hero for a reason. He can almost always overcome overwhelming odds! Time to put the speculation to rest and find out if he managed to make the difference against Thanos!

The Tape: Thor & Spider-man Ranking: Spider-man (#2)

What Went Down...
Thanos revels in gratitude for his perfect woman's role in ridding him of the annoyance of Iron Man. The armored Avenger's helmet supplies a bloody tribute to the Mad Titan -- and a sufficient distraction for a certain web-slinger!

A face full of webbing provides fresh irritation for the would-be god! He never even sees the web-swinging Spider-man coming to follow it up with two well placed feet to the webbed-up face!

Terraxia growls as Spidey tags out to an incoming Thor, rushing in to pin the web-slinging to the ground!

The airborne thunder god launches his hammer at Thanos hard and fast in a perfectly coordinated attack! Thor quickly reunites with his hammer, raining it down upon Thanos with the fury of a true god!

Lightning crackles as Thor raises Mjolnir above his head for a finishing blow! It's time for Thanos to pay for his murderous crimes! Even the observing Starfox wills his brother's death! Yet -- victory and hope are so easily thwarted!

In an instant the vengeful Thor stands still and silent. A merest thought all that's required for Thanos to turn him into a statue of glass!

Across the battlefield, Terraxia wields a broken chunk of the stony platform. She uses it to brutally bludgeon Spider-man into submission! Thanos smiles wickedly as he gazes at the blood-stained rock rising above Terraxia's head. More death.

The glass visage of Thor stands motionless and prone opposite Thanos. It is fragile and defenseless against the simplest threat to shatter it. Yet, there are still heroes who would give everything to see that such a fate was not met...

The Hammer...
Another hero falls, with yet another life hanging precariously in the balance. Thanos & Terraxia are a perfect match in their mutual lust for death!

It seems inconceivable that Thor will escape his glassy peril. The heroic forces become ever fewer as each wave of attack robs them of more soldiers. The loss of Thor in this ninth wave may be their dearest casualty yet, but there are still some heavy-hitters lurking the board -- with one about to swoop in next!

With Spider-man's death, the fatalities are stacking up: Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, She-Hulk, Cyclops, Scarlet Witch, Vision, and Cloak all lost their lives. Firelord and Drax are lost in time. Wolverine is unable to move. Doctor Doom isn't much better. Hulk is presumably still shrunken. Thor turned to glass.

In yesterday's Hero of the Week, we talked about the isolated consequences of the Infinity Gauntlet story.

Superheroes don't rely on finite contracts, so it's unlikely Marvel would ever need to wipe away so many icons in a single swoop. To put it in further context, this was a year before Death of Superman, and a decade before the circus of death that characterizes modern Marvel events. When you kill Spider-man and his amazing friends, you tell the audience it's all going to be fixed tomorrow.

In theory, the stakes of The Infinity Gauntlet and its deaths lack dramatic weight. Which always made it a little easy to push the story aside, even in 1991. In returning to each battle and covering the deaths as they unfold, it's been nice to appreciate the dramatic strain that exists within the story.

We may know that Spider-man will still be slinging webs in his various monthly titles, but being a year before Death of Superman comes with benefits, too. Bludgeoning your beloved icons to death with a rock wasn't quite the cliché in '91 that it might be now. Spidey was still the hero you might expect to overcome the odds and bring the story to close. Even if they're all coming back by story's end -- there's still some power in seeing the heroes fall.

Except maybe Thor. Hey, he may look the part, but it's still Thunderstrike, and nobody really likes him. Sorry, dude. It's a cruel world. Godspeed.

How many more heroes will fall? When will Adam Warlock finally launch his grand plan? Will Thanos complete a march into the Top 10 of our Fight Club Rankings? These are questions that will fuel us in our final week!

Those who've read The Infinity Gauntlet won't be too surprised by any answers that come their way. If you'd like to join that elite club, check out the collected edition via the Amazon link provided! Doing so not only harnesses the full story in a single volume -- but also helps support the site at no extra cost!

Follow links to jump back to the eighth wave, or our Iron Man/Terraxia tangent if you're following along at home. You can also find all the Infinity Gauntlet updates in the Secret Archive, where battles are indexed via publisher, series, and issue number. Just look for the Is in the Marvel section!

You can also follow all the action as it unfolds by following Secret Wars on Infinite Earths via Twitter and Facebook. You'll get daily links to fights inspired by the topics of the day. A like, share, retweet, or comment is another nice way to join the fight and keep our corner of the web infinite!

Winners: Thanos & Terraxia
#14 (+1) Thanos
#85 (+61) Terraxia [+1 kill]
#2 (--) Spider-man
#848 (-316) Thor (Eric Masterson)

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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