A Beginner's Guide to 'Infinity Countdown'

As Marvel Studios approaches their biggest movie in Avengers: Infinity War in which all of their combined superheroes battle Thanos to stop him from obtaining the Infinity Stones, Marvel Comics is also building to their next big event featuring these very same stones. If you’re a fan of the movies, this might provide a perfect jumping on point to check out the comics. When Infinity Countdown kicks off in March, it will feature many of Marvel’s best characters in an action-packed story. However, it’s important to have some background when jumping into any comics series based on more than 50 years of history.

That’s what this guide is for: If you’re looking to read Infinity Countdown, then this should provide some much-needed information on the key elements of the story. We’ve broken down our jumpstart into three sections. First, there’s the listing of the stones, what they look like and what they do. Second, there are some key players, some are in the movies and others are not, either way they’re important to know for any “Infinity” story at Marvel Comics. Finally, there are some comics worth visiting for reference to better understand the current status quo at Marvel Comics regarding these stones and the universe they occupy.

We’re looking forward to Infinity Countdown a lot and hope anyone can enjoy it with the use of this beginner’s guide.

Infinity Countdown Guide - Infinity Stones
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

What Are the Infinity Stones?

The Infinity Stones are six colorful gems which represent different aspects of existence. They each provide any being wielding them absolute control over the very concept they embody. When combined, the six stones provides whoever controls them with omniscience and omnipotence, essentially transforming them into a god.

Mind Stone: The mind stone is blue in the comics. It provides its wielder with understanding and control over the thoughts, ideas, and dreams of any being in the universe.

Power Stone: The power stone is red in the comics. It provides its wielder with almost unlimited endurance and strength, allowing them to battle and fight for eternity.

Reality Stone: The reality stone is yellow in the comics. It provides its wielder with the ability to fulfill any wish and to undermine the very constants of the universe.

Soul Stone: The soul stone is green in the comics. It provides its wielder with the ability to manipulate the souls of the living and the dead, bringing people back to life and altering their essence. It also contains a pocket dimension in which individual souls can exist.

Space Stone: The space stone is purple in the comics. It provides its wielder absolute control over space, permitting them to alter their own location or that of anything else to an alternate location in space.

Time Stone: The time stone is orange in the comics. It provides its wielder the ability to manipulate time by slowing or speeding its flow, to see into the past and future, and to travel through time itself.

Infinity Countdown Guide - Characters
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

Who Are the Key Players?

Thanos: Thanos is the key player in any Infinity Stone-related stories in comics or film. He’s the son of an alien race who was born obsessed with death. This obsession led him to fall in love with the metaphysical embodiment of the concept, and he came to see the stones as the best way to please his lover. Thanos’ quest for absolute control comes from his philosophy of nihilism, as he seeks to prove that nothing matters by changing the very nature of the universe. He does not seek to rule so much as he seeks to change the rules of everything, but that ultimately makes him an existential threat to every living thing.

Adam Warlock: Warlock is an artificially conceived human who represents the ideal genetic form of the species. His intelligence and strength are incredible, only exceeded by his ability to regenerate from any wound or death in a cocoon. Warlock has been the wielder of the Soul Stone for much of his life and has proven a being capable of holding all of the Infinity Stones without using them for a self-serving purpose. Check out this guide to learn more.

Gamora: Gamora was raised by Thanos to serve his goals while he was elsewhere. Her entire race was destroyed by her adoptive father who then transformed her into the deadliest woman in existence. Gamora eventually rebelled and joined Adam Warlock in his quest to stop Thanos’ own intentions of controlling and destroying everything.

Nebula: Nebula was another “daughter of Thanos” who served more faithfully than Gamora. However, she was not rewarded and was abused in the worst ways once Thanos obtained all of the Infinity Stones. It was Nebula that helped to stop Thanos the first time though, playing on his overconfidence and making her an uncelebrated hero for all of reality.

Pip the Troll: Pip is a regular companion to Adam Warlock and Gamora. While he does not have the great abilities or dramatic backstories of his friends, he has served as a humanizing influence on them. Pip can regularly be found smoking a cigar and transporting others across the Marvel universe.

Elders of the Universe: The Elders were the first set of characters to hold the Infinity Stones. They each represented the last member of an extinct species dating to the very beginning of the universe. Their personalities often reflected the powers of the Stones they held, using them to pursue infinitely lifelong goals.

Infinity Countdown Guide - Comics
(Photo: Marvel Entertainment)

What Are the Important Stories?

The Infinity Gauntlet: This story created by Jim Starlin, George Perez, and Ron Lim is the urtext of all Infinity Stone stories. It is the culmination of years of issues in which Thanos sought the stones about when he finally obtains them. If you want to understand any of Starlin’s later “Infinity” comics, Infinity Countdown, or the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War movie, then this is the place to start.

Secret Wars: The recent Marvel event played heavily on the notion of rewriting reality just like the classic The Infinity Gauntlet and original Secret Wars events did. While the story itself is based on the reconstruction of all realities, the Infinity Stones play a key role in its conclusion and offer clues for where several might have gone.

Annihilation: This cosmic crossover doesn’t feature the Infinity Stones, but it does include almost every character to ever interact with them. It is universal carnage as Annihilus invades from the Negative Zone, accompanied by Thanos. This series shows just what Marvel can do in a crossover and how key characters like Adam Warlock and Gamora work outside of their normal context.

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These facts and stories should serve you well as Marvel Comics prepares for the start of Infinity Countdown. While there’s no way to know everything when walking into a superhero event, this ought to be enough to make the experience far more enjoyable than confusing. If you love Marvel movies or the concept of Infinity Stones, then don’t hesitate, jump right in and enjoy the experience.