Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cosmic Cognizance: The Infinity Gems

Welcome to the first entry into a new feature I'm calling, Cosmic Cognizance, where I will focus on some of my favorite of Marvel's Cosmic Superheroes and Super Villains. For my first entry I decided to cover The Infinity Gems. You may ask, "But The Goog, how can gems be a character?!" Go ahead, I'll wait... "Ok!" I'd say "Let me tell you!" The gems are in fact sentient. So there. Ok, now, where to begin?

Let me tell you what each gem is:

Green: The Soul Gem, gives the wielder the mastery of the Soul. It is potentially the most powerful of the gems and over time actually steals the soul of the person using it. It is often referred to as vampiric. Any souls stolen by the gem are not actually consumed but end up in a pocket dimension inside the gem where the soul lives in peace, so not too bad of a trade off for having your soul ripped out of your living body.

Red: The Power Gem, gives the user access to all the power and energy that has ever and will ever exist.

Purple: The Space Gem, provides mastery over space. This allows the user to exist in any an all locations and to warp or rearrange space.

Blue: The Mind Gem, boosts psy powers and allows access to any mind and or dream.

Yellow: The Time Gem, allows control over Time itself. A user could change all time or only local time, for example ageing or de-ageing an individual.

Orange: The Reality Gem, with this gem the user can fulfill any wish even if it contradicts the laws of science, in effect you can bend reality. This gem can not be used on it's own and must be used in conjunction with the other gems.

(a side note, I keep seeing on Wiki that they have the yellow and orange gems reversed. I'm not sure why that is, the comics are pretty clear on which is which, but there you have it)

Ok, when the gems first appeared in the comics, the only one we knew of was the Soul Gem which was given to Adam Warlock by The High Evolutionary. In fact once the other gems started to appear they were just called The Soul Gems.

Thanos later gathered all the gems and siphoned off their power to create a weapon capable of destroying a star. He is stopped by Captain Marvel and Iron Man with the help of a now dead Adam Warlock. Adam manifests in the final moments, using the last of the stolen energy of the Soul gem to turn Thanos into stone.

Eventually the Elders of the Universe gather all of the gems in an attempt to kill Galactus and gain true immortality. They are thwarted by the Silver Surfer and Death herself curses the Elders with immortality. This leaves some of them in eternal torment or robbed of the very thing that gave them their long lives and titles of Elder. A few of the lucky Elders get away and take the gems with them.

Once again, Thanos is resurrected by Mistress Death as her champion and now a bit more wiser, realizes the true potential of the gems. He then sets out on a quest to once again reclaim them and by either besting or tricking the remaining Elders he manages to gather the gems once more and mounts them to his glove, he re-christens them the Infinity Gems and creates the Infinity Gauntlet.
The gauntlet allows Thanos to essentially become a god (his second time holding god-hood actually). He then proceeds to erase half the population of the universe to balance life and death. He captures the living embodiments of all reality (Eternity, Infinity, Death, Galactus, the Celestials, Chaos and Order to name a few) and keeps them prisoner. Eventually he is stopped by Earth's heroes and is thought dead.

As a result of this, a resurrected Adam Warlock claims the Infinity Gauntlet and is allowed audience with the Cosmic heavyweights (since he is now at or above their own level). The Living Tribunal declares that from now on the gems will never be able to be used in unison. Adam agrees and offers to form a Watch to safeguard the gems. He keeps the Soul gem but gives the others to four of his friends, leaving the keeper of the Reality gem a secret. It is eventually revealed that he has entrusted the gem to Thanos himself! Warlock knew Thanos was not dead and entrusted the gem to him also knowing that Thanos would not be stupid enough to try using the gem without the others present. Since the gems also no longer work together and no one would ever attempt to fight Thanos for it, the gem is actually as safe as it could be.

The gems are indeed kept safe for a while until the cancellation of The Infinity Watch where Marvel dumps all the gems AND Adam into the Ultraverse. I won't bother getting into that, no one ever talks about it and I think it's barely cannon. But the gems and Adam all eventually return to the Marvel Universe.

Some time later Galactus decides to collect the gems himself to try to solve his never ending hunger. The gems are not able to fulfill this role and only end up releasing an evil force into the universe which Thanos has to stop (this all happening in Thanos' short lived but excellent title book).

The Gems in their Gauntlet form make an appearance in the JLA/Avengers crossover where Darkseid tries to put them to use only to discover the gems do not function outside of their home universe.

Recently all the gems have come into possession of the Illuminati of the Marvel U. Each member (Iron Man, Professor X, Namor, Dr. Strange, Blackbolt and Reed Richards) keep a gem in secret and have sworn not to use them. Reed had attempted to wish them out of existence but the gems are actually needed for cosmic balance, so his attempt failed. They apparently made an appearance in the limited Pet Avengers series, so I'll have to track those books down!

I believe Reed now keeps the gems in a safe place, where they no doubt wait for the next cosmic crossover!

I think that's about it! There's a bit more I did not mention, but I can leave the details for other posts, I think this one is long enough and this is about as detailed as I can make it with out being TOO dull. At least I hope so!

(Edit: hoo, I should have triple checked this, lots of typos have been now fixed)


  1. Nice write up sir! And not boring at all! Well not to ME :-)
    Only had a chance to read this quickly but I think there was a prior appearance of an Infinity Gem before Warlock. Maybe not prior but I seem to remember the Gardener - an Elder with some Hulk appearances - possessed the Soul Gem. Or perhaps another of the Gems. I'd have to wrack my brain when not running riot over the nerd herd here :-)
    Good stuff my fellow Guardian!!

  2. Oh yeah! I forgot about that. I don't think I have read that particular story and I do not see any info on HOW the Gardener got the Soul Gem, but he apparently lost it after a fight with the Hulk. I don't know what happened to the Soul Gem after that but I bet I'd find some answers if I re-read Thanos Quest.

  3. Perhaps we can discuss it over beer? A finer evening I cannot think of! Well, I can but I'm assuming you meant for this to be a family-friendly blog?

  4. That indeed does sound like a fine evening!

  5. Are you sure about the colors of the reality gem & the time gem? I always thought that the reality gem was yellow. Then again, you are the Warlock expert so I'll defer to you. The reason that Wiki & many other sites say those are the colors is probably because Marvel says that's what they are (see distinguishing features):

    I'm really surprised that you took it easy on DC. Their whole Green Lantern/Blackest Night plot (and ring sales gimmick) about the different colored power rings with different powers looks to me like such a rip off of the Infinity Gems:
    They even have images of people wearing all the colored rings similar to the famous image of Thanos wearing the Infinity Gauntlet:
    Is it possible that Gary hacked into your blog and deleted all the negative DC comments?

  6. By the way, read Marvel Team-Up #55 for more answers on the gems. It stars Spider-Man & Warlock alongside the Hulk, Woodgod, the Gardener, & the Stranger. It's a great Warlock story by Bill Mantlo drawn by John Byrne in his early years.

  7. Strange, I know Gamera had a yellow Gem in the Infinity Watch and she was only ever able to tap into it to move faster and I'm positive the Gardener had a yellow Gem in the Thanos Quest, which he used to help his plants grow faster. I wonder if Marvel ret-conned those two gems.

    I do have that Team Up, I bought it a long while back, I should go back and re-read it!

  8. Well, I've been doing some research in the matter of the gems and it seems there is a bit of confusion.

    In the Marvel Team Up, the Gardener has an un-named "soul gem" that is pink in color. In The Thanos Quest, he has picked up a new gem and it is indeed orange and called the Time Gem and the Collector has the yellow Reality Gem.
    But looking through Infinity War in an effort to locate the scene where it's revealed Thanos has the Reality Gem (which I could not find) the Magus has a pink gem, opposite the red gem, on his Gauntlet! It seems there wasn't much attention paid in the gem's proper colors.
    In Infinity Watch #2 Adam gives Gamora a freaking PINK gem, claiming it's the Time Gem. Since I can't find an image of Gamora wearing the gem later on, I can't be sure it was ever yellow.
    So I'll have to consent to Marvel's official coloring.

    Either way, it's very confusing!

  9. Using another computer I'm finally able to comment. I enjoyed learning about the Infinity Gems. Very informative Goog. And to your comments Garth, all I'll say is this: Squadron Supreme.