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Adding to the Thanos Collection

infinity_gauntlet_number1

I’ve been on quite the Thanos (and Warlock) kick lately, finally "pulling the trigger" on gathering up a number of the collected volumes associated with the characters, with my favorite stories involving them…or at least ones that I’ve known of but not yet read, and want to (and anticipate their becoming favorites).

On Free Comic Book Day 2015, while out with friends, I spotted a simple but extremely effective display in which a copy of the Infinity Gauntlet paperback was propped up next to a giant coin bank of Thanos’ infamous gauntlet sporting some pretty, shiny Infinity Gems (aka "shiny plastic," in this case). I’d seen this before and I’d passed on it…but Free Comic Book Day tends to be an "extra" thing where I’m more likely to try new stuff than usual, or to buy stuff I don’t normally buy in the course of visiting comic shops. Unfortunately, someone a dozen-or-more people ahead of me in line picked it up and claimed it, so I wasn’t able to buy it there and then.

thanos_bank

At another shop I did spot a Thanos bust bank, and while it wasn’t what I’d decided I wanted, I decided to make do with what I could get and bought it. Still Thanos, and he IS sporting the gauntlet…but it’s hardly a "life-size" piece.

After parting ways with my friends, I went to visit my parents and help out with some stuff…and fortuitously put me in range of two other comic shops. The first one did not have the Gauntlet bank…but the second one did.

infinity_gauntlet_bank

And of course, since it had become my most-coveted item for the day and was the entire reason I went to the fourth shop, I bought it.

I don’t specifically collect banks or busts…but they ARE functionally plastic statues, and since I’m not going to pay hundreds of dollars for a single item, I’m quite content with the plastic variety.

thanos_and_infinity_gauntlet_banks

Sadly, I only later realized that whoever OKed the Gauntlet screwed up–THE Infinity Gauntlet was on Thanos’ LEFT hand…while this bank is clearly a right-handed piece. The Thanos bust has it correct.

I actually looked online for some images to see if I was just misremembering or such, and found more recent pieces that DO show Thanos with a right-handed gauntlet…so I’m just gonna go with it on the notion that it’s Starlin‘s Thanos, and that depiction of the character that wields the left-handed one…and a more generic Thanos that uses the right.

As such, the bank isn’t entirely inaccurate, but it does bother me a bit, in that I-didn’t-think-this-sort-of-continuity-detail-WOULD kind of way. But that sort of continuity thing is a discussion for some other post, some other time.

Suffice it to say these are a couple of cool items for my collection, and their coolness to me IS entirely based on Thanos appearing in the Marvel Studios films…and nostalgia for the ’90s Thanos stuff. (Other than the FCBD Infinity issue a couple years ago, I have yet to actually read Infinity and don’t presently have any great intent to seek it out).

Thanos Annual #1 [Review]

thanosannual001Damnation and Redemption

Writer: Jim Starlin
Penciler: Ron Lim
Inker: Andy Smith
Colorist: Val Staples
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover: Dale Keown & Ive Svorcina
Assistant Editor: Jon Moisan
Editor: Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99

It’s safe to say that Thanos is one of my favorite Marvel characters. However, perhaps that’s something to be further quantified: Thanos as written by Jim Starlin is one of my favorite Marvel characters.

While I have yet to read the entirety of Annihilation or Annihilation Conquest; or the Thanos Imperative, or even the more recent Infinity, I’ve been loosely aware of the character’s recent appearance and involvement in Marvel stuff. I’ve been sucked into buying various issues solely on the appearance of Thanos on the cover, the promise of the character within.

So it was the almost random “notice” of Jim Starlin writing and Infinity Gauntlet artist Ron Lim on art that prompted my purchase of this issue.

Despite the aforementioned favoriteness, it’s been a long time since I’ve read most of what I vaguely recall having once read–maybe 15 years since the original Infinity ____ volumes, a decade since the shortlived “ongoing” series…a fact that’s rather “idealized” Thanos for me, and coated things with that sweet nostalgia of childhood memories that so often props something up IN memory but leads to disappointment upon revisitation.

As such, I was prepared to be quite disappointed in this issue.

I’m not a fan of the standard cover…however, I opted to purchase it over any of the variants I saw. In the short term gratification sense, I probably would have preferred the Ron Lim cover…but I feel strongly enough on the “issue” of variants that I would have been quite disappointed having something LABELLED as a variant rather than the “real” cover. Particularly given the “core” creative team of this issue being Starlin and Lim, it’s truly beyond me why neither of their covers were “the” cover and instead shuffled off as variants. Starlin‘s own cover actually fits the interior story, and Lim‘s is equally as fitting visually…whereas Keown‘s cover is a generic (and not even particularly “iconic” to me) image far more suited as an interior “pin-up” page if not a variant cover instead of being the standard cover.

This issue is essentially a prologue, setup, for the forthcoming graphic novel Thanos: The Infinity Revelation. We open on Thanos upon his first major defeat in Marvel continuity–having lost the Cosmic Cube. Dealing with the massive failure, he is approached by Mephisto, but the intervention of an Infinity Gauntleted avatar of Thanos appears and takes this Thanos on a journey through time and space, as it processes various events and how they play into the younger, defeated Thanos’ future. We’re ultimately given setup for a new event in Thanos’ life, which presumably will be chronicled in the OGN this Fall.

I recall being pleasantly surprised at the ease with which Starlin brushed off several years of less-than-ideal characterization and use of Thanos in Infinity Abyss–that the appearances of Thanos in Ka-Zar, a Hulk Annual, and even a Thor-versus-Thanos arc in Thor’s own title proved to be duplicates of the ACTUAL Thanos; less than perfect at that. So this issue referencing multiple “avatars” of the Infinity Gauntlet Thanos fits right in with past precedent and gave me no pause at all, where it may have with other characters.

As a fairly simple one-off story, this worked well for me, giving me a chance to dip back in with Thanos without feeling like I actually missed anything from Infinity or anything else I didn’t feel lost, and actually quite enjoyed the touches on continuity that I recognized.

Visually, this entire issue was quite a treat. It had a feel of the familiar that I appreciated–and EXPECTED. While familiar, the coloring and such certainly showed through as “modern,” keeping this from feeling entirely like some ’90s throwback. I don’t much like Thanos’ appearance without his headgear, but having seen imagery of him without it before, everything fit. In the various detailing other than noticing how ugly he looks without the headgear, nothing of the art itself jumped out as a distraction. 

I enjoyed seeing familiar scenes and characters, and the only one I really didn’t recognize offhand was what I believe to be a “current” version of Adam Warlock that I’ve not actually read in-continuity yet.

The $4.99 price of this issue is a bit steep; I read the thing cover to cover in under 20 minutes…but then, these days, that’s par for the course to me with a Marvel issue. Steep price point for a quick read, whether it’s good or not.

To best of my knowledge, this is not a follow-up to Infinity, and that story seems to be solely referenced by the “previously” page, so you need not have read any of that to enjoy this. Similarly, if you’re looking FOR Infinity follow-up, this isn’t really gonna meet that expectation. 

However, if you’ve read or are familiar with the Thanos stories from the late-’70s and 1990s to early 2000s, and you’re a fan of Starlin‘s work in general and Thanos in particular, this should be a pretty enjoyable read and whet your appetite for an original graphic novel apparently due out in August this year.

Interest vs. Price

ultimateinfinitythumbScanning through my Facebook newsfeed last night, a posted image caught my eye.

Diamond/Previews had posted a cover image for Ultimate Comics Ultimates #25, which seems to show Ultimate Cap, Ultimate Thor, and Ultimate Iron Patriot (?) fighting from the grip of an Infinity Gauntlet.

Now, I definitely think Thanos is getting a bit over-exposed years now UNTIL the next Avengers film. And there’s that part of me with fond memories of the original Infinity Gauntlet story; that part of me that recalls Infinity War #1 that summer before the Death of Superman, and even the more recent Infinity Abyss (was that really over 10 years ago now???).

I also quite enjoyed Avengers & the Infinity Gauntlet by Brian Clevinger, from a few years back.

But the more recent stuff involving the Infinity Gems–and Marvel‘s Illuminati–just hasn’t sat right with that kid in me, so I’ve mostly tried to avoid it. Contemporary writers are welcome to do as they will–but if I don’t like the new stuff, I’ll just revisit the old. My wallet, my choice.

That said…I often enjoy some of the “twists” or “re-imagingings” of stuff from the Ultimate line, and since the Ultimate stuff is not in-continuity with the “main” Marvel universe, I’m far more open to changes/etc. there.

So, back to the cover image. Ultimates (“Avengers”?) facing the Infinity Gauntlet or its Ultimate Comics counterpart. I could really enjoy this. It’s got my interest, my curiosity. Something that’s gotta be on a fairly grand scale, right?

If I knew the Ultimate Comics to be priced at, say, $2.99…the image alone would do more than any generic/mysterious “teaser” has done and I’d email my comic shop to request the issue be ordered/pulled for me.

But I know–like what seems the vast majority of Marvel‘s comics these days–these are at least $3.99. So, since I’m not currently following ANY of the Ultimate Comics titles and I am so sick of $3.99, right now I have no intention of buying in on this.

Sounds like a new creative team, probably a decent one-shot issue or jumping-on point…but the price, that extra dollar that Marvel just HAS TO HAVE serves once again to be an anti-sale for me. Had they “stepped” their pricing and perhaps spent at least a couple years at $3.25 or $3.50 BEFORE going whole-hog to $3.99…maybe I wouldn’t be so vocally bitter.

Sorry, Marvel. I’m intrigued, interested, and I’d be all over this at the $2.99 price point…but at $3.99/issue, I intend to pass on this.

ultimateinfinity

Two decades since ‘Infinity Gauntlet’…

Well…2011 IS the 20-year mark since the original Infinity Gauntlet event. I’ve been wondering what (if anything) would be done to ‘celebrate’. Lo ‘n behold, I look at the Marvel solicits for March and find a solicit for Avengers #11 and a story involving it.

I just wish the title wasn’t $3.99/issue. I’ll keep an eye out for the inevitable collected edition, though.


AVENGERS #11

Written by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
Pencils & Cover by JOHN ROMITA JR.
Captain America 70th Anniversary
Variant Cover by ALAN DAVIS

The Infinity Gauntlet is in the hands of the most dangerous human being on the planet. But what can the Avengers do against a power greater than anything known on Earth? Another explosive chapter in this epic Avengers event by Bendis and Romita Jr. featuring the debut of a brand-new cosmic character that you won’t want to miss!! Plus: another illustrated chapter of the oral history of the Avengers!

32 PGS./Rated A…$3.99

via Newsarama.com : Marvel Comics’ MARCH 2011 SOLICITATIONS.

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