Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Jim Starlin and his Infinity Crusade

 When I saw that our local library had just the Infinity Crusade from 1993 as a pair of collected editions, I decided I should actually finish the thing. You see, I did start reading the comic books back in 1993 and quit halfway through.

Okay. Let’s have some background. The Infinity Crusade was the third big crossover event that featured Jim Starlin bringing back Adam Warlock, Thanos and all their related cast after he killed them off in the 70s. Before it was the Infinity Gauntlet and the Infinity War.

And let me get this out of the way right now: The Infinity War and Endgame movies were much better than the comic books. Tighter plots, smaller casts (yes, really!) and better characterization. 

By the time the Infinity Crusade rolled around, it was pretty clear even at the time that Marvel was beating a dead horse. It was another cosmic mad conqueror storyline. The fact that Starlin spent a lot of time on a comic relief character that didn’t add anything to the plot or theme makes me wonder how burnt out he was at that point.

Now, I like a lot of Jim Starlin’s stuff. His original Warlock comics were wacky fun. Thanos Quest,
which led up the the Infinity Gauntlet, was much better than the Infinity Gauntlet. And I really liked his apparently forgotten space opera Dreadstar (well, except for the last arc but there was a lot of good stuff before that)

But either he can’t write endings that live up to the rest of the story or he can’t handle a huge cast or the executive meddling gets too much when he has to add in the Avengers and the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and so on.

The Infinity Crusade is further complicated by the villain being Adam Warlock’s feminine side who has been driven insane by being repressed. That is problematic and misogynistic on so many levels. 

I am going to put on my arrogant comic-book guy hat and say that the story would have been vastly better if it turned out that the Goddess was actually benevolent. Like her plan was actually to give everyone in the universe a moment of cosmic awareness, knowing that almost everyone would shrug it off but it would make a difference for a tiny percentage of people. Instead, she’s virtually indistinguishable from Adam’s repressed male side. (Adam Warlock is complicated)

After finally finishing the Infity Crusade almost twenty years later, I can say I’m glad I didn’t play for all the issues back in the day.

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