In 2014, I struggled to contain my enthusiasm for the return of Jim Starlin to a new Infinity trilogy. And by contain, I mostly mean gush uncontrollably for 1,000 words about Starlin’s ownership of the Mad Titan on the Infinity Revelation. Nobody writes Thanos like Starlin (seriously, check out that Thanos reading order!), to the point that Marvel’s coolest cosmic villain is singularly creator driven.
He’s back at it with The Infinity Relativity, the second Marvel OGN, in a trilogy that will conclude appropriately with The Infinity Finale (although you also could have safely assumed Starlin Thanos stories would have ended with Marvel Universe: The End – I lost a lot of prop bet cash in 2003 to that one). I won’t oversell The Infinity Relativity as the second coming of Infinity Gauntlet, but if you’re invested in the Marvel Thanos experience, this continues to be fun, occasionally fascinating comic book story telling.
Infinity Relativity – Relative To What?
Relativity picks up where Revelation left off, with Thanos consorting among Death and Adam Warlock now the unwilling representative of an expired universe. More interestingly, Relativity owes a great debt to Starlin’s in-between OGN comics material, with both Thanos Annual #1 and Thanos vs. Hulk (four issue miniseries) offering deceptively essential continuity clues. (That Thanos reading order might come in handy right about now.)
If I’m being completely honest, the central tenant of this Infinity trilogy is still gnawingly elusive. Adam Warlock has absorbed the essence of a universe, granting him near Godhood, but how this will play out for Thanos and the Marvel Universe is largely unclear. Fortunately, Starling also provides a more immediate tether with a Hulked-out Annihilus (Annihihulk – no seriously) making a run at an yet another Annihilation Wave.
The highlights are many, with a knock-down-dragout Thanos vs. Annihi-HULK fight, Planet Warlock gladiatorial brawls, and Pip the Troll cheating at cards (ok, that isn’t that unusual).
Herein lies one of my favorite aspects of Starlin’s new Infinity trilogy – his creative ability to insert his favorite characters into the modern Marvel continuity. You can count on one hand the number of creators who could create a book that simultaneously feels timeless and caters to the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy roster and mid-2000’s Annihilation event. This is an early 90’s Infinity Gauntlet battle royale somehow completely in line with the new millennium. It’s beyond master craft.
I find it fascinating the Marvel comics elements Starlin deems worthy of inclusion in his Thanos saga. The mid 2000’s Marvel Cosmic hits make the cut, with Abnett and Lanning Guardians of the Galaxy and Thanos Imperative given the clearest blessing.
Meanwhile, Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity remains relegated to an Infinity Revelation “What was I thinking?” and Time Runs Out and Secret Wars are nowhere to be found. It’s safe to assume Infinity Relativity takes place prior to Thanos’ involvement with the villainous Cabal, and frankly could happen any time after 2010 in Marvel continuity history.
One knock against Infinity Relativity is that it feels significantly less ambitious than Revelation. Unless I simply missed it, Revelation played a lot with the fluid nature of Marvel character design, shifting costumes and styles within a single sequence of panels.
By comparison, Relativity appears to abandon such tricks for the relative safety of punches. Despite that, nothing is quite on the “Thanos is the coolest” scale of Thanos snidely writing off The Annihilators with an “oh please.” To be fair, Thanos is more legitimately challenged by this Annihilus and has to cut loose with all he has for once.
The Infinite Summary
We’ve had the Revelation and the Relativity now, and to be honest, I’m still pretty unclear what the revelation actually was. Nonetheless, I enjoy Thanos and the Marvel cosmic crew in the hands of Jim Starlin and company, and will without a doubt pick up Infinity Finale when it’s released in 2016.
At this point, if you’re invested in the Thanos Infinity Saga, Relativity is a must buy. It’s a terrible jumping on point, though, and if you’re new to Thanos, first welcome to the club, and second, I highly recommend you start with my Thanos guide.