The Infinity Stones are back in play in the Marvel Universe as a part of Infinity Countdown - but what exactly is the series, which launches this week, counting down to?
Marvel’s still somewhat mysterious Free Comic Book Day offerings may offer a clue. While the main stories of Avengers and Captain America have been announced, another title name – Infinity Watch - was tied to the solicitations.
With Adam Warlock already playing a major role in Infinity Countdown, and a veritable who’s who of Marvel characters in possession of the Infinity Stones, it looks like a revival of the classic Marvel Cosmic team may be in the works at the publisher.
So with Infinity Countdown #1 due out this week, Newsarama begins Infinity 101 - a series of companion articles offering context, perspective, and sometimes speculation about the Marvel event series and all-things "Infinity" in Marvel Comics.
But who are the Infinity Watch? The concept hasn’t been around in force since the 1990s, when a new team of cosmic heroes was assembled to guard the Infinity Gems after Thanos’ defeat in Infinity Gauntlet. Assembled by Adam Warlock, the Infinity Watch was initially not intended to be a team, but circumstances led most of the assembled keepers of the Gems to remain together.
The original team was led by Warlock, who held the Soul Gem. Each member of Infinity Watch held a Gem – though most refused to use the gem to its full power. The team’s core roster included a few familiar names – Gamora and Drax were each part of the team long before their Guardians of the Galaxy days (more on that later), and, somewhat shockingly, Thanos was given the Reality Gem. Pip the Troll and Moondragon rounded out the team’s core roster.
In later years, following Annihilation’s reinvigoration of Marvel’s Cosmic wing, a new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy, which included Drax, Gamora, and Adam Warlock battled Thanos, carrying on in the tradition of the Infinity Watch. The team name was later used for a future team from the year 3193 which included future versions of Captain Marvel, Silver Surfer, Adam Warlock, and the Vision.
Likewise, though they didn’t use the team name, the Illuminati (a secret cabal of Marvel’s most powerful heroes) each held an Infinity Gem for a time.
It’s easy to see how Marvel’s current Cosmic meta-story leads directly to a new Infinity Watch. The Stones (not Gems – these are new, uncut versions) are in the hands of powerful beings, and a war for control over them is brewing. Given the involvement of Adam Warlock - who could end up with the Soul Stone after Ultron if the future of Infinity Countdown Prime #1 is to be believed - and multiple other members of the Infinity Watch, a new team could be formed to guard the Stones once the battle to collect them is over.
There’s an added hook, too – Captain Marvel and Wolverine are both involved this time, and two big names to go alongside Adam Warlock on the marquee couldn’t hurt a new Infinity Watch title. And of course, the Infinity Gauntlet is about to be more prominent than ever thanks to this summer’s Avengers: Infinity War movie.
And of course, there’s that central question of what Marvel’s Free Comic Book Day Infinity Watch plans might be. Given the other two titles the publisher has announced will launch major new titles in Avengers and Captain America, it’s not a stretch to imagine a third major tentpole title rounding out the stories on tap - hitting shelves just one week after the Infinity War movie.