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In the beginning was the Soul Gem!

Well, not exactly, in the beginning (and we're talking way, way, way back) there was some sort of sentient being, who ended up splitting into the Infinity Gems, but for the longest time all we knew was the Soul Gem, which had been owned by various beings until it somehow came into the possession of the High Evolutionary, who gave it to the Adam Warlock back in 1972 (In a #1 of Marvel Premiere called "The Power of... Warlock" (It's the elipses that let you know it's the 1970's) that included little things like the creation of Counter Earth, back when the High Evolutionary WAS all that.)

The Soul Gem allowed whoever held it to steal the soul of anyone else, to judge their worthiness and the usual sort of Jim Starlin 1970-'s comsic-y-ness (Plus the ubiquitous energy bolts, or "Karmic Blasts" as they were called in this case). It also has an entire world within it where the souls it absorbs exist in a sort of paradise.

The Mad Titan, Thanos (and Death's longtime wannabe boyfriend, it's a whole nihilist-romantic thing) later created five synthetic gems to make six in total, which would power a doomsday device to lay waste to the universe. The synthetic gems were simply referred to as "Soul gems" and were, IIRC destroyed, which still left only the Soul Gem.

(Apparently the Time and Power Gems showed up in the late 1970's, but I don't think I've ever seen that issue, so will take it at it's word)

At any rate, in 1990 (Ye gods, it's been THAT long?) Thanos, tired of being treated as an inferior by his girlfriend, to the extent that she never talks to him, but always has an underling talk to him for her, (Thanos sees Death as a female, so he may be the universes most pro-active necrophiliac, but he IS straight) so seeks out something which will make him closer to her equal.

He has pondered the mysteries of the universe and discovered that there really WERE 6 Gems at the start, and over the course of the two part Thanos Quest retrieves them all from their owners (So basically, any cosmic character created in the previous twenty years who had a gemstone in their forehead, a la a bindi was fair game, and there were a few of those around!)

Through long (and impressive) sequences of cunning, skill and brute force Thanos collects them all, and then ponders what it is he has now...


I always loved that sequence of pages, making it clear that to the Infinity Gems, a Cosmic Cube is about on a par with a Lego brick

Now, based on this assessment of their nature and power, I'm sort of inclined to believe that some things ARE beyond the scope of humans, and the Infinity Gems seem to be pretty darn close to the definition of that. You can swear that you won't use them all you like, but if mere possession of them does this sort of thing to you, it would sort of permanently alter your perspective on life, the universe and everything (and it ain't just "42")

So who did these things end up with?

Time - Thor / Steve Rogers

Space - Tony Stark

Mind - Charles Xavier/Hank McCoy

Power - Namor

Soul - Stephen Strange

Reality - Reed Richards (I almost like the irony of the one who is obsessed with science and lousy at magic, being given one which is pretty much the definition of SUPERnatural, and makes any wish come true, no matter how impossible or irrational)

To Reed's credit he did try to use the Gem's powers to will them out of existence, but it really doesn't work like that, and the Watcher informed him that the Gem's MUST continue to exist as part of a cosmic balance thing...

So what happened in New Avengers #3?

Soul Gems shattered

This can only end well, no?

Oh, and for those interested in how it all worked out for Thanos?

It doesn't end well for the rat-thing, as you might imagine...

Awww, Thanos, you big woobie you....

Date: 2013-07-28 07:11 pm (UTC)
fungo_squiggly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fungo_squiggly
I've never actually seen these pages before. God-Thanos crying is oddly amusing, but I really like the whole concept.

In Thanos' case, he wants something that really can't be obtained by raw power, no matter how infinite that power would be. And even Dr. Doom and the Joker have found absolute power boring, for different reasons.

On the other hand, I'd like to see a subversion of this sometime, with a villain who doesn't even care about how "hollow" his victory is now that he's a supreme being with everything under his control.

Less "Life is now pointless because everything is controlled by me," and more "Now the universe is my toy forever. Amuse me, puny mortals!"

I'm sure that story's often been told, too, but I can't really think of any examples of it right off the bat.

Date: 2013-07-28 08:48 pm (UTC)
fungo_squiggly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] fungo_squiggly
Well, yeah. And that makes perfect sense to me.

Thing is, even if it isn't about one person/anthropomorphic personification the villain in question is in love with, this kind of scenario usually comes down to the same basic issue: "I now technically have everything I want... but if feels hollow, because I know it isn't 'real.'"

Date: 2013-07-28 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] md84
Thanos' weakness is his subconscious self-defeatism. He doesn't really believe he deserves to succeed at anything, so he always sets himself up for failure. Even when he wins, he loses. Thanos is the ultimate loser.

Date: 2013-07-29 03:08 pm (UTC)
bardbrain: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bardbrain
That is closer to what the Joker did.

His big thing was... Being obsessed with Batman was integral to his identity. So he was compelled to bring Batman back again and kill him again or he wouldn't be the Joker anymore. He'd have to change, to let go of who he was, psychologically. In doing so, his hatred of Batman was so strong that Batman was the one with all the power.

Superman explained this and basically trolled the Joker into giving up his powers. He made the Joker feel powerless and when an omnipotent being feels powerless... they are.

The flipside would be if you had an omnipotent being use their powers to remove their own psychological flaws and quirks... But then I think the net result would be nothing changing. A perfect being at perfect peace would have no need to USE their omnipotence.

That's the route I'd think about going with it. Somebody gets omnipotence and alters themselves to a point where they have no desire to use it. The end.

Date: 2013-08-02 02:48 pm (UTC)
thedropout: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thedropout
Yes, this always feels like a copout to me in these kind of stories--that's great, that he realized his victory was hollow. But it just means if Thanos didn't happen to be obsessed with Death's love he could have destroyed the universe. What happens when someone obtains ultimate power and doesn't coincidentally happen to have this sort of "human" moment? Then we're all screwed. When the universe gets saved not by heroes, but by a circumstance that the writer invents, it always feels like a cheap victory to me.

Date: 2013-08-02 03:54 pm (UTC)
thedropout: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thedropout
Right, but it's easy to imagine a character who wants ultimate power of the universe because of ultimate power of the universe. It's not like we need the love interest to make a quest like this believable.

Date: 2013-07-28 07:13 pm (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
And again, this is why Thanos is more interesting than Darkseid by a country mile.

Darkseid is always portrayed as evil through and through. Thanos is also evil, but, once in a blue moon, we can see a little gap in his armor, or he does something to show he has the tiny embers of a compassion in that big black stone of a heart of his.

Date: 2013-07-28 10:12 pm (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
Yeah, I like to think that this was what inspired Darkseid to send Granny Goodness to do the whole Amazons Attack thing, since Darkseid is enough of a petty jerk to destroy Wonder Woman's entire civilization like that.

Date: 2013-07-28 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] md84
Darkseid did at one point love another person long ago. When Sulli was murdered, any trace of love and compassion that Darkseid possessed died with her. This is the reason he's so driven to stamp out positive emotions in addition to ruling everything. To grossly oversimplify things, Darkseid is the ultimate example of "misery loves company" -- if he can't be happy, no one can.

Date: 2013-07-29 05:55 am (UTC)
cainofdreaming: cain's mark (pic#364829)
From: [personal profile] cainofdreaming
Another interpretation was that he thought emotions the source of chaos that had shattered his life, so he set out to remove them from the universe to prevent others suffering the same fate.

All big bads are kind of woobies in the core, apparently.

Date: 2013-07-29 11:19 am (UTC)
richardak: (Default)
From: [personal profile] richardak
There was an issue of Dr. Fate where Eric and Linda Strauss were fighting Darkseid, and losing, until they blasted him with some spell. After being hit, Darkseid looked totally devastated, and demanded to know what they had done to him. They explained that they had shared their love for each other with him. This made him decided to let them go free. (It still didn't end happily.)

Date: 2013-07-29 11:53 am (UTC)
sadoeuphemist: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sadoeuphemist
I completely disagree. Thanos crying a tiny tear shows a crack in his armor, but it is also very cliche and frankly laughable. In real life, even in a lot fiction honestly, if you know someone who keeps obsessing over an unattainable love, it quickly becomes very tedious and you wish they'd just grow up and get over it. Yes, Thanos is more humanized, but humans can be terribly boring a lot of the time.

Meanwhile, Darkseid embodies evil on a philosophical level, and he can be interesting as an idea given form. There's this amazing part from Mister Miracle # 9, where Scott is about to escape Apokolips, he's been through a gauntlet of everything Darkseid's troops had to throw at him, he's on his hands and knees crawling, unable to stand, and Himon and Metron and the boom tube to Earth are a few feet in front of him.

And then out of nowhere, Darkseid appears right behind him, and bellows out, "He can take it! I'll not stop him now! If courage and bravery took him here -- some of it was mine!"

And those lines on their own were incredibly striking to me. There's no kindness in it, no compassion in it. It's just a reminder at the moment of Scott Free's greatest escape, that he owes some of his greatest strengths to the suffering and pain that Darkseid inflicted on him. That Darkseid is and will forever be part of who he is, part of the best of who he is. And that's a lot more interesting to me than the idea that the big bad has a soft spot deep down, or whatever.

Date: 2013-07-28 09:48 pm (UTC)
freezer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] freezer
I thought it was established you couldn't use the Reality Gem without the other 5 to act as control rods, otherwise you the power would overwhelm you?

Date: 2013-07-28 11:20 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] silicondream
Yeah, it's not a great idea to activate it for more than a second. Thanos conned it out of the Collector, who didn't even know how to turn it on. Then we saw Thanos turn it on for a moment and cause a reality warp, and much later the Magus used it to trigger a permanent reality warp and trap Thanos inside. But those were both uncontrolled, chaotic things.

Possibly the most effective user of the Reality Gem to date has been the Hood, because Bendis.

Date: 2013-07-29 05:57 am (UTC)
cainofdreaming: cain's mark (pic#364829)
From: [personal profile] cainofdreaming
Thanos used it later to briefly resurrect Mar-Vell, though. A very specific feat, instead of chaotic.

Date: 2013-07-29 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] silicondream
D'oh, forgot he did that with the Reality Gem alone. I must retract "because Bendis"; Ron Marz set the precedent.

(I don't like the Reality Gem being usable like that, personally; it encroaches on the other gems' domains too much, particularly the Soul Gem. But hey.)

Date: 2013-07-28 11:04 pm (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
Also, I think they got the colors of the gems mixed up in the destroyed page.

according to wikipedia, its:

Soul: Green
Reality: Yellow
Power: Red
Mind: Blue
Space: Purple
Time: Orange

Date: 2013-07-28 11:39 pm (UTC)
silvercat17: a tarantula in a cowboy hat (spider)
From: [personal profile] silvercat17
Wow. Dude can not win. On the other hand, Death is being kinda dickish. "I can't talk to you; you're below me." "Nope, can't talk to you, you're above me." "Hey, Deadpool, how *you* doing?"

Date: 2013-07-29 12:48 am (UTC)
practicalcat: A picture of a green-eyed black cat with the caption "My fandom takes orders from a cat" (Redemption of Althalus)
From: [personal profile] practicalcat
Just because Thanos wants her time and attention doesn't mean that she's obligated to spend it on him. Especially when there's Deadpool being all actually interesting to her, as opposed to being a creep and refusing to take "no" for an answer.

Date: 2013-07-29 01:04 am (UTC)
silvercat17: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silvercat17
There's that. Just the passive-aggressiveness gets to me, but I have my own issues.

Date: 2013-07-29 04:30 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] silicondream
Yeah, but Death wants Thanos' time and attention. She sought him out first IIRC, she approved and accompanied him on his early schemes, and when Warlock killed him she resurrected and powered him up to keep working for her.

She likes having him as a minion, and every once in a while she sortakinda says she loves him and dangles the possibility of a romantic relationship, but never on the terms he's currently willing/able to offer. It's up in the air whether that's purely Death being manipulative, or whether she really does want to make it work.

(And I doubt she's genuinely interested in having Deadpool as an actual boyfriend, either. She probably approaches him in a different way than Thanos because he has different strings to pull.)

Date: 2013-07-29 07:01 am (UTC)
practicalcat: A picture of a green-eyed black cat with the caption "My fandom takes orders from a cat" (Default)
From: [personal profile] practicalcat
Ahh, in that case, that's a different story.

Date: 2013-07-29 11:02 am (UTC)
ozaline: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ozaline
There's a scene in Thanos #7 where death appears to Thanos in the form of a child and speaks to Thanos telling him to persue her (that he's been doing it wrong all this time)... and at that time Thanos seemed quite receptive so I think they do care for each other it's just a dysfunctional relationship at times because of the rules. *might post it later*

Date: 2013-07-28 11:41 pm (UTC)
skemono: I read dead racists (Default)
From: [personal profile] skemono
Thanos can use the Mind Gem to reach out to the minds of every living being in the universe, and not one of them knew that you "sow" seeds.

...unless the red tentacles are meant to be threads of some kind, and he is literally sewing up minds?
Edited Date: 2013-07-28 11:56 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-07-29 11:55 am (UTC)
ozaline: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ozaline
Your no-prize is in the mail.

Date: 2013-07-29 12:42 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] jlbarnett
I think the absence of the time gem is a hint those aren't the "current" versions of the gem. They're te versions from after the end of the universe

Date: 2013-07-29 01:10 am (UTC)
obsidianwolf: (Alan and Sam)
From: [personal profile] obsidianwolf
Personally I'd die laughing if out of the blue the individual gem personalities from the Ultra-verse event with the ego gem showed back up as a result of this.

Of course since most modern writers can't be bothered to even stick to well liked continuity I can't see something that reviled getting a do over.

Date: 2013-07-29 03:33 am (UTC)
drmcninja: (Default)
From: [personal profile] drmcninja
I honestly don't understand what it is about hated continuity that editors/writers love to use, and loved continuity which they just completely ignore.

Date: 2013-07-29 03:36 am (UTC)
silverzeo: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverzeo
Wonder if this will be ruined in the movie...

Date: 2013-07-29 12:52 pm (UTC)
halloweenjack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] halloweenjack
tl;dr--she's just not that into you.

Date: 2013-07-29 05:40 pm (UTC)
mola_ram: let's put a smile on that face (Default)
From: [personal profile] mola_ram
Never really thought of Thanos as a pro-active Necrophiliac, or straight person but rather more as an Asexual.
(and frankly, seeing as gay superheroes are becomming more and more active in the MU, how about beginning shining a little light on asexuality as well, while we're at it.)

At the core of the Death/Thanos relationship isn't there that major pothole, that to Death, sex and birth ( conceiving and creating new life) is the VERY essence of what Death IS NOT ?

Sure, I won't deny that love could have blinded Thanos to this very crucial point, but I don't recallhaving seen Thanos fantasizing/lusting about/for Death or referring to wanting her in any carnal sense, aside from having once referred to her as her mate, when he posessed the infinity gauntlet. (though it seems more and more to be the case in the horribly written Thanos rising, Thanks a lot, Jason Aaron :P )
but seeing as I am not a genius and can figure that one out, why shouldn't Thanos (who definetly is a genius) be able to as well?

In Starlins run It all seemed to be about Love and Devotion for Thanos when it came to that, never possession or anything like that, and it's not like Thanos spends hours staring at her boobs and ass...

So if we're following that line of thought, that LOVE and DEVOTION, held by one of the most vile, feared and despised creatures of all, could it be the strongest and purest love in the entire MU ?...

That is one of the character traits to me that brings Thanos miles ahead of Darkseid characterwise.

As for Deaths gender; Wasn't there at some point some reference about how in the MU that it is a female entity that brings you into life (Gaia, the all-mother) and it is a female entity that takes you from it (Death) ?
Edited Date: 2013-07-29 05:46 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-07-29 08:00 pm (UTC)
obsidianwolf: 3 of 3 Icons I never change (Default)
From: [personal profile] obsidianwolf
Death's gender is pretty much irrelevant. The female skeleton is her default form but it's heavily implied that's just so lower life forms can understand her. She and Oblivion taking the same model as Infinity/Eternity for the benefit of the lower life forms. That in truth like all the abstracts entities they are just stand ins for things that are beyond the understanding of most inhabitants in the universe.

Death can actually show up in any form she wants such as when it talked to Jean Grey in the form of a male construction worker.

It has also been shown that perhaps everyone sees Death differently and aspects of Death show up based on the users own personality. Quasar for instance got Kid Reaper a silly cartoonish reaper that was pretty friendly and helpful.

Date: 2013-07-29 08:55 pm (UTC)
obsidianwolf: 3 of 3 Icons I never change (Default)
From: [personal profile] obsidianwolf
Yeah huge fan of Quasar it was probably the first comic I ever owned the whole run for.

Date: 2013-07-30 06:32 am (UTC)
beyondthefringe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] beyondthefringe
I loved Quasar also... I have pretty much the whole series in my collection.
Say what you want, but Gruenwald was a hell of an entertaining storyteller. You could always count on him to keep obscure characters and in-jokes in rotation.

Date: 2013-07-29 08:25 pm (UTC)
mola_ram: let's put a smile on that face (Default)
From: [personal profile] mola_ram
Or when she appeared at Rick Jones' and Marlos' wedding as Neil Gaimans' Death of the endless in he-who-must-not-be-scanneds' run on the incredible Hulk, guaranteeing them a long and happy life.

Though I always had the notion that seeing her in her "true form" was what made Thanos love her so much to begin with
Seeing as he never sees her differently (or at least makes a comment of it) after he has aquired the infinity gauntlet, which makes him so much more powerful than her, I think he knows her for what she truly is.

Date: 2013-07-30 02:22 am (UTC)
glprime: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glprime
Aww, who's a cute widdle mad titan baby? You are! Yes you are!

Date: 2013-07-30 04:24 pm (UTC)
bruinsfan: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bruinsfan
The Mad Titan, Thanos (and Death's longtime wannabe boyfriend, it's a whole nihilist-romantic thing) later created five synthetic gems to make six in total, which would power a doomsday device to lay waste to the universe. The synthetic gems were simply referred to as "Soul gems" and were, IIRC destroyed, which still left only the Soul Gem.

Not exactly. The six gems were called Soul Gems and we've known Warlock's was one of a set at least as far back as Marvel Team-Up #55 in 1977, when he and the Gardener used theirs in tandem to drive the Stranger away:

Thanos acquired all six, then built one big artificial one to focus their power and extinguish the stars. That one got smashed by Captain Marvel, and since Thanos got turned to stone in the end of that story I'm not sure how the gems were disposed of besides the original that Warlock was presumably buried with.


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