How many times has creation nearly been torn apart because of six little stones? I have no idea, and I’m assuming that most of you have lost count as well, but I know that it’s a lot. Having the power to control all of reality, time and space, those pesky stones been sought by all manner of tyrants and would-be intergalactic despots, but mostly they been the collective object of desire for the Mad Titan, Thanos. Time and time again he’s pursued them and his warped dream of a Universe shaped by his will and each and every single time, Thanos has been thwarted at the last moment*. However, in what seems like a genuine attempt to change his destiny and escape the cycle that he’s been perpetually caught in, Thanos as Infinity Wars begins, has given up his pursuit of the stones. It’s a mistake that he soon regrets, as before he can change his mind, which given his previous endeavours there’s every chance he would, Thanos is removed from the field of play by a most unlikely assassin with a long standing grudge and a whole load of daddy issues.
One would think, knowing Thanos and his lust for the stones that the heroes of Earth and their associates, the ones holding and thus being responsible for safeguarding the Infinity stones wouldn’t be particularly agreeable to meeting up and having all six of the gems in the same place at once. But even the most powerful of heroes, especially the Sorcerer Supreme, can be blinded by arrogance, and in the midst of a meeting with the other guardians of the Infinity Stones, the aforementioned assassin strikes and following a showdown for the ages claims the stones. Having ultimate power, and having dealt with the heroes in a most unexpected and original fashion, it’s left up to the recently resurrected Adam Warlock, Loki and his chronicler to save the heroes, the universe and everything else from the hands of Thanos’ nemesis and put everything back in its right time and place in reality. Which isn’t exactly easy as the whole ultimate power and infinity stones thing complicates matters a hundred fold. But as you’ve almost certainly guessed and knowing how good usually prevails in these situations, everything eventually works out. Sort of. And by sort of, I mean that there are a few tears before bedtime and when all is said and done, the futures of one team of heroes and its members are irrevocably changed.
He did it; he actually went and did it. Gerry Duggan wrote a cosmic epic about the Infinity Stones that wasn’t all about Thanos, ties up all of the recent Guardians of the Galaxy arcs and leaves the door open for a possible sequel. And he did all that while telling a humdinger of a story that thanks a to the herculean talents of his assembled team of artistic genii, burns and burrows its way into the imagination. Utilising the idea that the apple never falls far from the tree and that nurture is just as a strong a factor in individual development as nature, Duggan has crafted a tale that forever alters the dynamic of one squad of “superheroes” whose rapid rise to prominence has now been cut short and shifts the balance of power and their universal constant, the infinity stones, in a most unexpected direction. Then there’s Loki. The way Duggan uses him in this story is sublime, subverting his norm, forcing him to be both hero and villain of the hour and making him decide who he actually wants to be before he’s whisked away to stumble through the next storied chapter of his life. Asgard may well be gone, but its sons live on. Absolute power doesn’t just corrupt absolutely, it changes everything… Tim Cundle