If you're a Marvel Comics fan, and you've never read the 1991 event "The Infinity Gauntlet," writer Brian Clevinger has got you, and your kids, covered. As the publisher announced yesterday at their Mondo Marvel panel at the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, the "Atomic Robo" writer will be reinventing the original story as the four-issue all-ages book "Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet" along with artist Brian Churilla in July.
"I love the Marvel all-ages stuff. I was working in a comic book store a few years ago, and it’s some of the best stuff on the shelves as far as something instantly accessible that you could easily give to kids to turn them on to comics," the writer told CBR News. And that accessibility is the goal of this new series as well.
"‘Infinity Gauntlet’ is pretty cool because when I first started getting into comics, that ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ series was one of the first big things that came out. So I have a really good memories of those comic books and of what I remember Marvel Comics being like when I was really into collecting. Of course, it’s been maybe ten years since I last read it. So I told [my editor] Nate [Cosby], ‘Hey, all my stuff’s in storage so I don’t have access to this. Could you send me a copy to refresh my memory?’ And he said, ‘I don’t want you to do that. I want this to be your version of the Infinity Gauntlet. I don’t want you to necessarily just retell what happened originally for a new audience. If “Infinity Gauntlet” had never happened, how would you do it?’"
Rising to the challenge, Clevinger crafted a story with the very basic hook of the original series: the cosmic death god Thanos gets the powerful eponymous weapon and pretty much makes the universe go crazy. From there, it's up to a group of heroes selected for the task to save the day.
"The whole Avengers in this book are not the classic Avengers at all. Those guys get taken care of in the first issue very early on. What we’re left with are the Avengers where we go, ‘I need you, you and you to go out into space and solve this problem while the entire world is tearing itself apart with villains attacking and all kinds of stuff.’ So it’s a really bad time on earth. Half the heroes get taken away, and stuff gets crazy. Of the heroes who are left, the Avengers are now Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Hulk, Ms. Marvel and, of course, Dr. Doom," he explained, adding "From Dr. Doom’s perspective, he wants to take over the world. He can’t just trust these guys to save it first. He’s got to be part of that plan."
Over the course of four issues, the writer tried to make things fly fun and fast while also putting all the expected pieces of an event comic in place for young readers to sink their teeth into. "Thanos still gets the Infinity Gems and says, ‘I’ve got all this power. I’m going to remake the galaxy in my image.’ Part of that just involves wrecking stuff like crazy because he’s a pretty bad guy. So earth’s heroes don’t know it’s this galaxy-wide problem. They just figure stuff’s going crazy on earth, and using superhero super science they figure where this problem is starting from. The majority of the series is Spider-Man, Wolverine, etc. getting from earth to Thanos. We’ll keep cutting back to him so the audience knows his intention, but the majority of the comic is one trip through space and a whole bunch of battling."
Known for his indie hit "Atomic Robo," Clevinger said his Marvel work was a happy turn of events that he'd been hoping after for a while. "I know that ‘Atomic Robo’ had been floating around between editors at Marvel for a while. One of our editors does a lot of work for Marvel, and he occasionally will sort of ‘guerilla’ put issues out there and go, ‘Ha!’ And this has been going on for years with me thinking, ‘If only there’s some way they could figure out how to let me write for them.’ Eventually Nate was the guy who picked up on it. He read the first volume and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got this other all-ages book. This is very of all-ages. Let’s go nuts and hire this Brian kid!’"
And as the writer and editor got down to brass tacks in recreating a classic story without re-reading it, Clevinger had reservations but came around in the end. "Oddly enough, that was more daunting than retelling it, because now I have more options available," he said. "I could take any cast, I could take the story anywhere I wanted...there was so much freedom it was stifling in a way. I would like to go back and re-read it after. The freedom that Nate gave me to do my version was stifling at first but then I figured my way through it. And now I see how it’s incredibly beneficial because having told it from my perspective...well ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ is such a classic Marvel story by some great talent that there’s no way I could compare to it. It’s my hope that doing this completely different take on it will be entertaining in its own way that doesn’t attempt to diminish the original. It’s the best of both worlds as much as possible."
As for his collaborator, Clevinger said of "Rex Mundi" and "The Anchor" artist Churilla, "He sent Nate this piece of art that was Thanos punching with the Gauntlet in this very kind of classic pose. It was black and white, but what I loved about that piece is that it was clearly his style, clearly very modern and clean, but at the same time there was an undercurrent of a very classic old school Marvel art to it. There was a nice synthesis between modern clean art and old school, more detailed stuff."
And while the writer said that he probably has more future Marvel work on the way, "Atomic Robo" will continue with new miniseries at its same pace. "The wonderful thing about being a comic book writer is that I can work on several things at once. So ‘Robo’ will always be the priority for me and will always be there, but it’s nice to get paying work so I can actually keep doing 'Robo,'" he promised.