This week’s release of Infinity Wars Prime #1 kicks off Marvel’s latest cosmic event. If that title sounds familiar, that’s hardly surprising. Just a few months ago — but man, it certainly feels like a lifetime — Marvel Studios released Avengers: Infinity War, which brought Thanos’ wrath down on the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not everyone survived his quest for the Infinity Stones.
You may be burned out with crossover fatigue and, just from its title, this event may seem like an attempt to cash in on the success of the recent film. But Infinity Wars represents the culmination of a meticulously plotted cosmic epic from writer Gerry Duggan, which has been redefining the role and purpose of the Infinity Gems within the Marvel Universe with the help of artists like Aaron Kuder, Mike Hawthorne and Mike Deodato.
Infinity Wars is a story over a year in the making — and unlike a lot crossover events, when it says it will have long lasting effects on the Marvel Universe, I’m inclined to believe it. Ahead of Infinity Wars Prime #1 (written by Gerry Duggan, and drawn by Mike Deodato Jr, Frank Martin and Cory Petit), here’s a quick recap to get you up to date on some of the most underrated superhero stories in recent memory.
Stones and Gems
Way back in Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run, the Earth was threatened by “incursions” from other parallel Earths which threatened to destroy both worlds. To combat the threat, the Black Panther put together a new Illuminati, the secret group of made up of the smartest and most politically powerful superheroes on Earth. The team decided to unite the Infinity Gems — which they had been guarding separately since way way back in Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Cheung’s New Avengers: Illuminati miniseries — and utilize the power of the Infinity Gauntlet to stop the two Earths from touching, saving both worlds.
However, the strain of the task caused five of the six Infinity Gems to shatter, while the Time Gem disappeared into the time stream. That was the last anyone saw of the Infinity Gems for a long while. It wasn’t until just last year, when Wolverine returned to life and came into possession of the Space Stone — Marvel has started calling them “Stones” rather than “Gems” for movie synergy — that the hunt for the reformed Infinity Stones became a pressing concern.
Captain Marvel discovered the Reality Stone while trapped in a Star Trek-style mirror universe where the good guys were bad guys. Star-Lord and Drax learned that the Power Stone was being guarded by the newly reformed Nova Corps, and that it was also several stories tall and practically immovable. The Mind Stone was acquired by, of all people, Turk Barrett, whom you may know as a regular gopher for the Kingpin and regular punching bag for Daredevil (he also appears in the Marvel Netflix shows). The Super-Skrull discovered the Time Stone inside the recently recreated planet of Sakaar, while Adam Warlock, Kang and Gamora were all searching for the Soul Stone — which was in the possession of none other than Ultron.
Battles for the Infinity Stones took place throughout the galaxy. Thanos wanted them, naturally, and had gotten himself a Chitauri army to do it, while other dangerous factions had their eyes on assembling the stones, bringing together characters and alien races from every corner of Marvel’s expansive cosmic universe. War broke out throughout the galaxy, all while a mysterious threat lay in waiting, preparing to take her place in the fight.
What To Expect From Infinity Wars
While everyone else fought for the Infinity Stones, a mysterious figure called “Requiem” abducted a troll of Nidavellir and forced him to create a new suit of cosmic armor and an incredibly powerful cosmic sword. Requiem enters the fray in this week’s Infinity Wars Prime #1, and given how secretive Marvel has been about showing Requiem’s face (she’s the one at the top of this post with the infinity symbol — get it? — on her mask), it can be expected that she’s a character we’re already familiar with and whose identity will be revealed at a critical juncture in the upcoming story.
As for the Infinity Stones themselves, several of them have changed hands over the course of Infinity Countdown, some more than once. Wolverine handed off the Space Stone to Black Widow (who also recently came back from the dead); Doctor Strange acquired the Time Stone from the Super Skrull; Warlock defeated Ultron for the Soul Stone and Star-Lord was able to will the Power Stone down to a more manageable size. Infinity Countdown ended with Doctor Strange issuing a summons to his fellow stone-bearers to assemble a new Infinity Watch (the name of Adam Warlock’s old team, each of whom wielded one Infinity Gem) and the final page teased that Thanos himself would be the big bad of the upcoming Infinity Wars.
But if you’re really looking for a character to watch in Infinity Wars, don’t count out Gamora. The Deadliest Woman in the Galaxy is more alone and desperate than ever. A part of her soul is trapped within the Soul Stone, and she’s almost frantic to acquire it and free herself. But Warlock and Drax have first-hand experience of how the once calming and idyllic artifact has changed into a twisted and dangerous weapon. They believe that the Soul World within the stone must never be accessed again, and they’ve prevented Gamora from using it.
There’s also Loki, who has been featured a lot in Infinity Countdown and Infinity Wars promotional material, but has yet to enter the fray in a meaningful way. As the occasionally recovering God of Mischief, Loki always has plans-upon-plans-upon-plans, and whatever he wants the Infinity Stones for can’t be good for the rest of the Marvel Universe. Just this weekend at San Diego Comic Con International, Marvel teased the death of a major character in Infinity Wars Prime #1 and for the first time in a long time, it feels like it really could be anyone; no-one is safe.
Marvel has also announced a series of Infinity Warps tie-ins, which feature mash-ups of popular Marvel heroes including Arachknight, Iron Hammer, Weapon Hex, Soldier Supreme and Ghost Panther. While it’s currently a tightly-kept secret how these heroes become amalgamated, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that at some point during the event the Infinity Stones will be brought together and used to change reality in new, twisted ways.
While Infinity Wars sound like it echoes the biggest movie of the year, it’s actually the culmination of a year-long cosmic epic from writer Gerry Duggan, who hasn’t put a foot wrong so far over the course of this story. Check out Infinity Wars Prime #1, out today from Marvel Comics, to see what you may have been missing from one of the most exciting sci-fi/superhero adventure stories in years.
Kieran Shiach is a Salford, U.K.-based freelance writer and one half of Good Egg Podcasts. He is on Twitter, @KingImpulse. He wishes in the past he tried more things ’cause now he knows being in trouble is a fake idea.