Reading Recommendations: Infinity War

Here’s your guide to be the smug friend after watching the Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s the lowdown on Infinity Stones, Thanos, and more!

Infinity Gauntlet (+ Rebirth of Thanos), 1992

This is the one everyone has heard of, the first story where Thanos is after the Infinity Gems (the movies changed it to stones for some reason). He is doing so in order to impress a girl. But not just any girl, the physical embodiment of Death. And the best way to impress Mistress Death? Snuff out half the life in the universe. Collecting gems that give one power over Space, Time, Power, Mind, Reality, and Soul basically makes you an omnipotent god, and putting them in a fancy gold glove just means you’re an omnipotent god with style.

It’s a cosmic epic concerned as much with obsession and power as it is with action, making it sort of unusual for the superhero genre. This was the second time I had read the main story, and it remains a truly insane story that is also a bit unpredictable. However, this was my first time reading Rebirth of Thanos, which collects issues of Silver Surfer and the Thanos Quest miniseries where Infinity Gauntlet writer Jim Starlin reintroduced Thanos and sets up the conflict to come. Given that the Russo brothers say that Thanos has more screentime in Infinity War than any other character, it’s worth knowing more of his strange backstory and nihilistic obsession.

Infinity, 2013

Jonathan Hickman wrote this epic crossover, and he’s one of the best longform storytellers in modern comics. The collected version of this is an 800+ page behemoth, and the craziest part is that it is the midpoint of his Avengers story which culminates in the universe resetting Secret Wars event two years later. It can be a bit dizzying, but including the most significant tie-in issues within the main collection helps to give shape to the story.

Importantly for Infinity War, this story introduces Thanos’ Black Order, who more or less act as his lieutenants in his quest for the Infinity Stones. Io9 has a great piece on them (https://io9.gizmodo.com/a-guide-to-avengers-infinity-wars-black-order-thanos-1824295431) but what you need to know is that they face off against the “Illuminati” (Iron Man, Black Panther, Black Bolt of the Inhumans, Doctor Strange, Mister Fantastic, Namor, and Beast of the X-Men) who have gathered the Infinty Stones because they think a reality-destroying event is coming in Earth’s direction.

The main storyline of the comic is that Thanos launches this attack on Earth while many of Marvel’s heroes are out in space, trying to rally allies against a powerful enemy who hates Earth because our planet is responsible for too much drama. It’s really fun and is worth the massive page count.

Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two in One Annual #2, 1977

I hadn’t read these two issues until they were recommended by Michael Yates of Atomic City Comics during his appearance on I Like to Movie Movie’s Black Panther episode. http://cinedelphia.com/i-like-to-movie-movie-black-panther-with-michael-yates-of-atomic-city-comics/ These are the last two issues of the story, but they are relatively self-contained. In the Avengers Annual issue, the Avengers head to space to stop Thanos, but are captured. In Marvel Two in One, Spider-Man and the Thing also head to space based on the dreams they are having, and help break the other heroes out of Thanos’ capture. This issue also shows Spider-Man having serious doubts about being involved in cosmic level shenanigans, which I hope is part of Ininity War, similar to Bruce Banner’s reaction to being in Sakaar in Ragnarok.

Infinity War Prelude, 2018

If you want a refresher of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is the most helpful to read, as well as showing a bit of what happens to the Avengers after Civil War. It also has some material from Infinity and elsewhere if you want a sampler of other things on this list.

But this page is the most helpful for me, showing where all of the MCU Infinity Stones are:

Author: Ryan Silberstein

Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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