Infinity War #4

Issue Date: 
September 1992
Story Title: 
Mortiferous Artifice

Jim Starlin (writer), Ron Lim (pencils), Al Milgrom (inks), Morelli (letters), Laughlin & Stein (colors), Craig Anderson (editor), Tom DeFalco (chief)

Brief Description: 

Mystically transferred to the dimension where Magus’ relay energy transmitter lies, the Earth’s heroes encounter Thanos and the Infinity Watch. Deeming them as the culprits behind this new cosmic crisis, the heroes quickly attack them. Unbeknownst to everyone, Kang and Dr. Doom depart unnoticed, and travel further along the dimensional corridor until they finally reach the energies’ true source: five Cosmic Cubes inside the palace of the Magus. Meanwhile, Galactus manages to molecularly re-construct himself, his ship and his companions after Magus’ attempt to disintegrate them. Observing the heroes’ altercation beneath his ship, Galactus beams everyone aboard and Magus is finally revealed as the true perpetrator. Galactus also unleashes a form of negative energy that reaches Earth and swiftly annihilates Magus’ evil doppelgangers, who were brutally attacking the heroes left behind at Four Freedoms Plaza. Adam Warlock is soon handed all the Infinity Gems from the members of the Infinity Watch and unites them, intent on re-creating the omnipotent Infinity Gauntlet which may put an end to Magus’ power. The Gems, however, do not work together anymore, owing to the Living Tribunal’s judgment of not allowing Warlock to use the Gauntlet on his own. Galactus and Gamora teleport themselves to the Tribunal and appeal to him to change his verdict. After they depart, though, Magus suddenly appears and abducts Warlock, teleporting away with him! After Thanos realizes that the people on Earth have been entranced by Magus, Captain America dispatches Dr. Strange and other mystics to Earth to deal with the situation, while Professor X and the other telepaths are assigned to psychically awaken the Earth’s population from resisting to Magus’ conquest. Thanos then discovers the Ultimate Nullifier on Galactus’ ship – the most destructive weapon on the universe – and, surprisingly, decides to trust it in the hands of one of the noblest heroes, Quasar.

Full Summary: 

Most powerful is he who has himself in his own power

– Seneca

In a stronghold many realities removed from our own, the nefarious Magus watches carefully in his monitor. He is pleased to announce that the weave of the web closes. Guile and patience at last reap their bounty; the day of the Magus is at hand! Within the headquarters of the famous Fantastic Four, a band of Earth’s defenders faces his army of monstrous doppelgangers of the Terran heroes. Magus believes that the heroes essentially face the darkness which festers within all souls. He argues that the fact this psychic trauma is artificially induced by outside forces does not diminish its horror. It is but a fraction of the master tapestry – one to be greatly savored. Chaos has such a honeyed piquancy, he notices in satisfaction.

He turns his attention to another image in his monitor. Midway between his empire and the actuality of his birth, more sweet tastes offer themselves for sampling: Earth’s greatest heroes pitted against Thanos and the Infinity Watch. “What more could one ask for?” he rhetorically asks and proceeds to deliver the answer himself: “Much. And soon that too will be mine.” He asks his thrall, the doppelganger of Thanos, how the Phase III of the operation goes. The “shade” Thanos informs him that harmonics continue to build; desired levels of concentration are imminent. “Apprise me instantly of fruition,” Magus commands him.

Elsewhere, Kang and Dr. Doom are journeying by Kang’s ship across dimensions, tracing the source of the energy emissions. Doom announces that the computers show that their final destination is a mere three dimensional sequences away. Kang assures him he knows. You primitive cretin! he contemplates in disgust. He may have initially needed Doom’s data to begin this quest and Doom has indeed been of some assistance since, but the monarch’s medieval manners grate on his nerves. The time to dispose of him can’t come soon enough! “Prepare to warp,” he tells his companion. Doom announces that the teleportation element is engaged. His own thoughts, however, are similarly filled with loathing: You overbearing prig. Soon, Kang, soon.

In Magus’ citadel, the Thanos doppelganger informs his master that he has once again picked on that scanner aberration. He thinks… “Forget it!” Magus barks. He insists that the time has come to check on Galactus’ continent. They will soon once again be needed on stage. Studying the image shown on his monitor – the few remnants of Galactus’ ship, floating in space – he hopes, not without an aspect of irony, that sudden astral disruption wave wasn’t more than poor Galactus could handle! It was enough to decimate a star system, no more. He quickly realizes his worries were groundless: he watches in his monitor as the reincorporation begins. In admiration, he admits that Galactus truly is a power to be reckoned with. When he completes his part in the grand weave, Magus must dispatch him immediately, despite his fascinating complexity; even the most wondrous vipers make poor pets!

As Galactus’ disintegrated ship gradually regains physical cohesion, so do the people on board. Dr. Strange attempts to recover from the thoroughly unpleasant experience: he can’t believe they actually survived that. Galactus briskly vaunts that his hidden foe has greatly underestimated his might; an error that shall cost him dearly. Still, he admits that his foe has shown that he too is a being of vast resources and power. Galactus begins to perceive the true nature of his intrigues; they cannot be allowed to continue! Unfortunately, he is well aware that thwarting their consummation may prove a difficult and costly feat. His mien assumes a curious expression and Silver Surfer wonders what Galactus is looking at so strangely. He quickly realizes what Galactus is staring at, safely contained at one specific point of the room. “No!” the Surfer contemplates in terror. Galactus is not actually considering using the most awesome and destructive weapon in his arsenal and the universe! Is he considering using… the Ultimate Nullifier?

Back at Four Freedoms Plaza, the titanic battle of the heroes against their evil doppelgangers continues. It is a struggle scientist Hank Pym finds beyond his job code. Let me out of here! Hank ponders in panic. Without super powers or weapons, he won’t last long around here! Seeing the unconscious body of Firestar being engulfed by slimy tentacles – the transmogrifying boy of the monstrous, ersatz version of the heroine – Hank decides to let the tights and muscle crowd work it between themselves! He decides he’s taking a powder into the computer room until the ruckus is settled!

Suddenly, Hank sees new telemetry coming on Richards’ scanners. Astounded, he exclaims it’s incredible: they’re picking up energy broadcasts to every star system in the Milky Way Galaxy! He is puzzled by this massive energy surge throughout the star system. He wonders what’s going on; what does it mean? Absorbed in his reflections, Pym is unaware that Wolfsbane’s doppelganger, now having a fully normal form after defeating her prototype, is about to sneak up on the scientist… until Darkhawk spots her and thankfully binds her with his ropes. Before he has the time to celebrate, though, he is knocked out by fire blasts, courtesy of Firestar’s doppelganger.

Pym is still occupied, perusing the data on the screen. He discerns a shift in the surge’s vibratory pattern; it appears to be myriad peaks and dips within the harmonic structure itself. The broadcast is obviously trying to match frequencies with an existing pattern. Unbeknownst to him, the counterfeit Firestar now prepares to slyly attack him from behind. It’s almost as if it were… Pym thinks hard, trying to decipher the pattern, until he suddenly has an epiphany: “Good Lord!” Behind him, Beast intervenes just on time and takes the fake Firestar out, just before she initiates her attack against Dr. Pym.

In the dimension where Magus’ relay configuration resides, several of the Earth’s heroes continue fighting against Thanos and the Infinity Watch. An indignant Thanos demands the heroes stay back: “Away from me dolts! Can you not understand that?!” Struggling to break through Drax’s grip around his neck, Human Torch assures Thanos that they understand that whatever villainy he’s up to ought to be scuttled! The Thing attacks Drax, only to be violently repelled by the Destroyer.

Nearby, Gamora is rather effortlessly beating up Rogue. She-Hulk tells Rogue to hang in there and approaches. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes to the mutant and sends her flying with a punch, clearing the ground for her to take on Gamora herself. Seeing She-Hulk’s green skin, Gamora remarks that’s a hue she doesn’t appreciate seeing on another, alluding to Drax’s similarly colored skin and begins pummeling Jennifer!

Hulk takes on Drax, while Iceman successfully freezes Pip the Troll in a block of ice. “Good work, Bobby!” Havok congratulates him. Suddenly, though, Pip vanishes, courtesy of his Infinity Gem that allows him to move in space. Iceman and Havok wonder where Pip went. Iceman deduces he must be around here somewhere. “But where?” Havok exclaims. Just then, Pip materializes above them, gleefully screams “Gotcha!” and breaks the ice right on top of the two mutants’ heads!

Nearby, Strong Guy, Guardian and Wolverine simultaneously struggle to contain Gamora. Still, she swirls frantically, like an animal, and kicks Cyclops in the face, preventing him from directing his optic blasts against her. Not far from there, Hulk still tries to grasp Drax with a grip, whereas the latter deflects yet another attack by Hercules. Simultaneously, Adam Warlock confronts Wonder Man and blasts Polaris.

Not with your claws!” Invisible Woman implores Wolverine as she sees him menacingly approaching a woozy Moondragon. “Behind you!” the flying Guardian warns him. “Gotcha again!” Pip roars as he teleports right above Wolverine, hurtling a piece of ice on the Canadian’s head! “And for the last time, shorty!” Guardian tells Pip and knocks him out with her blasts. She then addresses the Invisible Woman. Sue assures her that the situation’s under control and knocks out Moondragon.

Watching from his monitor, Magus advises his lackey, the Thanos impostor, not to waste his time monitoring the Earthen affair. It is really of no concern to anyone other than those directly involved. His doubles will perform adequately without supervision. Despite the fact that they possess nowhere near the fighting spirit the originals do, the advantage is still theirs. They may fall and fade from battle but his instrumentation is programmed to automatically reintroduce their presence to the struggle. Magus is well aware that an enemy that refuses to stay dead after you kill him is a foe who cannot be defeated!

As if to prove Magus’ point, amidst the titanic battle in Four Freedoms Plaza, the hideous doppelganger of Daredevil dies by the sword of Black Knight… his body demateriliazes… and moments later, the same doppelganger is reintroduced in the battle scene, in perfect fighting condition, and grabs Multiple Man from behind!

Elsewhere, Doom and Kang are finally breaking through to the desired reality. As soon as they enter, they see a vast, sublime citadel located on an asteroid. Doom realizes they will have no trouble locating their mysterious adversary’s stronghold! Kang realizes that, with might such as his, stealth need no longer be a consideration. They, on the other hand, cannot afford that particular luxury. He tells Doom to maintain the craft’s cloaking screen and activate the similar device on his personal survival unit. Entranced, Doom mumbles that one can almost feel the power from here. Kang realizes that Doom is becoming blinded by grand ambition. He considers that perhaps now is a good time to eliminate him.

Doom points him at a structure in which the power center lies, according to his scanners. Kang mentally retracts his previous thought and considers that Doom may still prove useful. Doom goes on to inform him that the readings are going off the scale. Did he not tell Kang that prize was worth any risk? Finally, he points Kang at a ceiling module: the readings are centering on it. Kang suggests they investigate. And arrange a fatal accident for you, dear Kang, Doom contemplates in hatred. He ponders Kang has more than served his purpose; his patronizing imperial manner will long be remembered.

The two propel themselves upwards through their jet-packs. Examining the module, Kang argues that its cellular lock is simple enough to override; insignificant safeguards for such a priceless treasure. Their foe apparently thought no one would ever be able to breach his position’s dimensional defenses; a conceit that will cost him near omnipotence. Doom wonders why their foe utilized this power through instrumentation. Kang informs him that scanners show the presence of subliminal disruptive harmonics and radiations. As he easily overrides the lock of the module, he informs Doom that prolonged direct use of the containment vessels would cause brain damage and… Suddenly, both men are in plain shock from what they see. “Amazing!” they gasp.

In the relay transmitter area, Drax, Thanos and Warlock are surrounded by Earth’s heroes far and wide. Strong Guy admires the three men’s incredible durability. He wonders: what does it take to put the three of them down? “More than you cretins possess,” Thanos sneers at them. “That we shall see, Titan,” Hercules roars.

“No, we shall not, Olympian,” Magus exclaims, watching in his monitor. One is scheduled to appear who will sadly put an end to all this delightful mayhem: Galactus.

Flying overhead in his ship, Galactus and his party watch the heroes in his monitor, fighting below them. Dr Strange wonders what they are doing here. Galactus argues that their presence is of no consequence. Silver Surfer retorts they may possess information that may be of some use. Galactus agrees that further intelligence on this affair might prove helpful and clicks on a button, hoping that a stasis field and transport beam should put an end to their petty squabbling. Indeed, all the heroes are beamed aboard Galactus’ ship.

Watching in his monitor, Magus remarks that he had wondered how Galactus would quell their hostilities… “Then you are not all-knowing, master?” the Thanos doppelganger retorts. Magus replies negatively. However, he advises his lackey not to let that fact put any self-destructive notions in his head.

In another part of Magus’ stronghold, both Doom and Kang are rendered speechless at the sight of several crystals of various shapes and colors, floating in an energy bubble. “You realize what they are, don’t you?” Doom tells Kang. Of course, Kang assures him: incredibly concentrated astral energy containment units. They do not exist in his time period. He had thought them but a legend. There was one story about a wondrous device called the Cosmic Cube. Doom tells him that now they are looking at five Cosmic Cubes! Kang notices they’re not all cubes, but all are protected from powerful explosives set to ignite if tampering occurs. This is a safeguard he cannot override from here, he laments. Doom suggests they should seize their enemy’s control center, then. Kang suspects this will be no easy accomplishment. One they may fail at, which is why they shall leave behind a timed explosive charge of their own. If such power be denied to Kang, let no man possess it, he stresses. Except Doom, the Latverian monarch ponders.

At Galactus’ ship, the heroes beamed aboard watch as Strange generates a mystic portal and sees the heroes left behind at Four Freedoms Plaza struggling to fight off their evil doppelgangers. Strange was certain that the presence of Earth’s heroes meant big trouble back home. Silver Surfer confronts Galactus and insists they must return to their own reality and aid their friends. Impossible, Galactus spurns his pleas: he currently has need of Strange’s talents. Surfer retorts that their allies face hopeless odds that they may change. “Norrin Radd, must you forever be the noble fool?” Galactus reprimands him. Still, he relents and orders Strange to maintain his mystic portal. Clicking on a button, he argues that a negatively charged stream of ions beamed into their enemy’s broadcast back to Earth should disrupt his plans. He contemptuously announces to Surfer that his comrades have been saved; may they now return to the business at hand?

At the Four Freedoms Plaza, the floor is now flooded with hundreds of slimy tentacles – the true form of Magus’ doppelgangers, prior to his altering them – as well as some of the fallen heroes. Gawking at this shocking sight, Namorita asks Crystal what happened. “Your guess is as good as mine,” Crystal replies. Beast admits that’s the strangest metamorphosis he ever saw. “Meta-what?” Speedball puffs.

At Galactus’ ship, the powerful being informs his ‘guests’ that the quickest way to gain the intelligence he seeks is through a cerebral scan of all their recent memories. He asks them to steady themselves; this unit is not adequately insulated for the sensitivities of their frail systems. He then clicks on a button. At first, the heroes experience no more than a mild feeling of disorientation, hardly noticeable. Then a flood of diverse memories pours inwards. None escapes the onslaught. Dozens of perspectives collide and merge.

After gleaning all the knowledge in this forceful way, Galactus remarks it’s interesting. “Very interesting,” Thanos agrees. The heroes rub their heads, trying to overcome this devastating experience. Strong Guy asks if anyone’s got an aspirin! Silver Surfer realizes, in shock, that Thanos is on the side of the angels this time. Wolverine asks the Titan what it feels like to be one of the good guys for a change. “Distasteful. But it is my universe as well,” Thanos clarifies. Jean Grey confidentially asks the Surfer what Thanos is up to now. The Surfer deduces he’s doing probably the same thing Galactus is doing: trying to figure out their next move.

Approaching Galactus’ monitor, Thanos sees in it the Living Tribunal inquiring the catatonic Eternity in the Dimension of Manifestations. Thanos tells Galactus that his sensors are picking up unusual data. It would appear that Magus has upped the ante in this game. Their companions are going to be upset when they find out.

However, the heroes are all but pessimistic. Human Torch is confident that, with Galactus on the job, they’ve got nothing to worry about. Thing is equally certain he can kick anyone’s tail without breaking a sweat. Warlock, however, grimly retorts that power alone will not win this day.

Perusing Galactus’ data, Thanos realizes that dimensional rifts are interfering with scans back to their reality. There’s no way to confirm the effects of Magus’ latest broadcasts; too powerful to disrupt this time. Galactus decides to have Thor journey back to their actuality. “Why?” Thor asks him. So that my instrumentation can operate via the wavelength of your mystic hammer, Galactus explains. He clarifies that the defense of the universe requires the data this method will accumulate. Thor will be automatically transported back to this dimension once all pertinent data is acquired.

Galactus’ ship touches down on the desolate planet where Magus’ relay energy transmitter lies. Warlock is beamed down on the planet, followed by Thanos. The Titan suddenly discerns a presence behind him and turns around, only to confront his doppelganger. The two beings momentarily lock eyes before Thanos’ double vanishes. Thanos growls that they all seem to be haunted by unwanted destiny this day. His foster daughter, Gamora, approaches and reminds him that it is Warlock’s dire fate that is at the door. Thanos concurs; he sees no reason to wait any longer. Gamora wonders whether Adam will be able to handle it. When divine, he expelled all good and evil from himself, thus recreating the Magus. Now, they are expecting him to re-absorb his evil. However, Thanos sees it as the only way to defeat the Magus. Still, he wonders: without his good side for balance, how will Warlock manage afterwards? Perhaps they are creating a far worse monster than even Magus…

“But you will continue on with your plan, Thanos,” Magus arrogantly asserts, watching everything from his stronghold. He knows that is Thanos’ way and the only option Magus has left open to him.

On Earth’s moon, Thor drifts aimlessly, in the company of Uatu, the Watcher. Thor protests that Galactus sending him back makes no sense; there’s nothing happening here. “Patience, godling,” the Watcher advises. Indeed, Thor lays sight on the stars… and then screams in horror “Good Lord!” There are two Earths out there! And now also two moons, Watcher informs him. Thor asks him if he knew this was going to happen. “Not precisely, only that a grand cosmic event was imminent,” Uatu explains. Thor wonders if the others are even aware of what’s happening back on Earth. He decides he’d better contact someone on this Avengers’ communicard they gave him. “Thor to any Avengers listening! Do you read me?” Thor tries to contact them. “Come in, please,” Han Pym replies, back at Four Freedoms Plaza.

From his lair, Magus realizes that, at this moment, both Galactus and Thanos are making important decisions. He already knows what they will be because of his studies of both beings’ psychological profiles. Thanos should announce his first.

At the desolate dimension where the heroes currently stand by, Galactus and Warlock are having a serious discussion a bit further from the others. “The time is upon us?” Warlock asks Thanos. The Titan replies affirmatively. Still, he sense more afoot than any would suspect. “If I might suggest…” he begins telling him.

Watching from a distance, Captain America asks Moondragon what these two are up to. Moondragon believes that Thanos is preparing to pull out the big guns. “Meaning?” Cap wonders.

Warlock finally calls his Infinity Watch teammates near him. He grimly informs them they have postponed the inevitable long enough. Moondragon realizes what he’s trying to say: in other words, Warlock wants… “Each of your Infinity Gems,” Warlock finishes her phrase and extends his open palm. Gamora hands him her Gem but confesses she’s not crazy about this. “Nor I,” Moondragon shares her own apprehensions as she also hands her own Gem to him. Warlock assures them that they echo his own sentiments. “So? I keep my Gem between my toes! Big deal!” Pip grouses and removes his Gem to give it to Warlock. “Few would dare to search for it there,” Thanos quips.

Pip reminds them that Drax swallowed his Power Gem. Warlock admits that does present a problem. One that Gamora promises she can easily remedy, though. She skillfully kicks on Drax’s stomach, inflicting such tremendous pressure on it that the Gem goes flying right out of the being’s mouth and landing in Warlock’s hands! “See?” Gamora boasts. Warlock thanks her. Pip banters that it was a lot easier than cutting him open!

With all six Gems in his possession, Warlock realizes he now possesses… the Infinity Gauntlet! He prayed he would never again see it in this existence. “You already have the Reality Gem…? Curious,” Thanos frowns. A surprised Gamora wonders how he did that. “Unless he had it all along and all his talk about having a secret protector was bull,” Pip warily suggests a theory. Moondragon ventures a guess: perhaps that protector is among Earth’s expeditionary force. Warlock retorts that such speculation is of no import at the moment. He asks everyone to stand back. He may not immediately have full control of the power once it is upon him.

“If I am correct, control is the last thing you need to worry about, dear Adam,” Magus gloats as he watches in his monitor, anticipating what will happen next. “And if you are incorrect?” the Thanos double impertinently poses another possibility. Magus is honest: “I am doomed.”

Bearing the Infinity Gauntlet, a glove set with all six Gems, Warlock concentrates… harder and harder… and finally comes to a horrible, agonizing realization: “It’s not working! The power is not coming to me!” Thanos deduces it must have something to do with the Living Tribunal’s ruling Warlock was telling him about. Warlock agrees: the Tribunal’s judgment is obviously keeping the Gems from working in unison. “Working period,” Moondragon corrects him. Try as she may, she can’t raise any kind of psychic response from the Mind Gem. Warlock conjectures that they shut down completely when brought together.

Galactus interjects: he suspected as much and has prepared for the eventuality. “In what way?” Warlock enquires. Galactus explains that he has alerted the Living Tribunal that he is requesting a new meeting to concerning the Infinity Gems. Warlock wonders if the Tribunal has agreed to grant them such a meeting. Galactus corrects him: not them, him, Galactus. Stripped of divine power, Warlock is less than nothing to the Living Tribunal. He will address the concerns of a being of Galactus’ stature, a truly cosmic entity. However, the Tribunal will require the presence of one of the Infinity Watch as a representative of the legal possessors of the Gems. “Me?” Warlock asks him. Galactus answers negatively: he fears Warlock and the Gems may prove too tempting an enticement for Eternity should he regain his senses. Determinedly, Galactus points at Gamora and announces he will take her with him. Without procrastinating, he teleports away with her, intent on meeting the Tribunal.

Captain America is not sure he likes Galactus calling the shots. Sue retorts it’s better than Thanos and Warlock going off on their own. Hercules thinks it’s time for them to once again take control of the situation.

All of a sudden, a teleportation field manifests unexpectedly behind Warlock. Magus emerges from the portal, followed by his minion, the Thanos doppelganger. “I have come for you, my shade,” Magus ominously declares and snatches the helpless Warlock. “No!” Thanos screams and desperately leaps forward, hoping to grab Warlock. His attempt is in vain, though, as Warlock has already been teleported away, alongside his abductors, and Thanos passes right through the fading portal and hopelessly lands on a much chagrined Hercules.

“Now what?” Scarlet Witch questions aloud. Professor X realizes that Galactus’ mission is suddenly moot. Storm insists there must be something they can do. Hulk agrees: they can stomp Thanos. This whole mess is probably his doing anyhow. Cap sullenly declares that they just saw the universe’s last hope fade away. Vexed by Hulk’s remark, Thanos, in turn, quips that he had heard rumors that the Hulk was no longer an unthinking brute. He deduces those reports were in error – otherwise he would realize that Thanos may well be their reality’s only chance for salvation.

Cap thanks him for the offer but sternly clarifies that they can do without his kind of help. Thanos accepts they have it their own way, then – but they may be interested in learning that the Magus is in the process of taking over the entire Milky Way Galaxy. He has used his vast unknown power to create a duplicate reality which is now merging with the original. When that merger is complete, the Galaxy will be totally in his thrall – as are the doppelgangers that defeated the heroes’ lost friends. Additionally, he reveals that everyone back on Earth and the rest of the galaxy are entranced, in order to make the takeover go more smoothly. Captain America is about to hesitantly ask him how he knows all this information, when Thanos cuts him off and explains he learned about all this from the telemetry being transmitted through Thor’s hammer.

Captain America decides to take charge, amidst the commotion and begins assigning tasks to many of the heroes. He asks Cyclops to get everyone in here; they’ve got to do something about this situation, fast! He then asks Nova whether she will help them use the power of Galactus’ ship. In any way I can, Nova readily complies. Steve then turns to Professor X and Moondragon and asks them to utilize their psychic skills to awaken Earth’s populace to mentally resist the Magus’ conquest – backed by Galactus’ equipment and transmitted through his broadcasters. Xavier’s reply is enigmatic, though: “Perhaps.”

Steve then turns to Dr. Strange and assigns to him and the rest of the mystics to hightail back to their dimension and see what they can do. “But you…” Strange protests. “Will get along fine until you come back for us. Now go!” Cap urges him. He then frantically orders the rest of the heroes to gather below the view screen; they’ve got strategy to discuss. “What about Adam?” Pip asks him.

Gazing outside Galactus’ ship, Thanos imagines Warlock is dead by now. It’s painfully apparent that has been one of the Magus’ main goals all along. Thanos realizes the Magus has played them all masterfully. He obviously manipulated each factor of this little drama with skill even Thanos admires. Thanos now sees where Magus is heading and what his end desire is. He decides he shall thwart his dreams.

Approaching the Invisible Woman, he confides in her that, from what he understands, Galactus possesses an incredibly destructive weapon aboard this ship. Sue secretly ponders whether he is talking about the Ultimate Nullifier. She gawks at the powerful weapon… and Thanos follows her gaze and realizes she’s staring at what he’s looking for. Thanos thanks her: he thought she might know where it was stored! He finds it clever that it is concealed in plain sight. “No!” Sue screams in horror. Thanos snatches the weapon and confirms that is radiates dark power. As he approaches the gathered superheroes, Sue informs everyone that’s the Ultimate Nullifier Thanos carries!

Thanos reveals that he’s heard the Nullifier has only drawback: it’s too powerful. If not utilized with precise correctness, the bearer is destroyed along with the target; extremely inconvenient. He could easily terminate the annoyance which is the Magus. But to fire such a weapon would take a nobler soul than his. Looking at the heroes around him, he hopes that perhaps a braver spirit might be found among this company. One who would be willing to sacrifice his own life for the good of the universe. Realizing that Wolverine is barely keeping himself from attacking Thanos, Cyclops urges him to cool down and suggests they see what Thanos is up to.

Thanos explains that it would require a hero with power to match his courage; for their knight would have to fire his weapon within the Magus’ dimension, so as not to drag his comrades into possible oblivion. With a steady hand, Thanos distinguishes Quasar among everyone else and offers him the Nullifier. “How steely is your resolve, Quasar?” he asks the hero. Quasar remains silent for a moment, pondering his options… and then accepts the weapon: “Finely tempered.” Thanos walks away, a wicked smile in his face. Captain America implores Quasar not to do it. Hercules seconds that: it is not a dare worthy of acceptance. Still, Quasar retorts it may well be their only out.

Somewhere else, the Living Tribunal faces Galactus and Gamora. The Tribunal announces he is ready to consider their case. He warns them to present it well, for their dimension and its very existence may depend on the outcome of this hearing.

Characters Involved: 


Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Moondragon, Pip the Troll (all Infinity Watch)


Dr. Strange



Living Tribunal

Nova II

Silver Surfer

Uatu, the Watcher

Dr. Doom

Kang the Conqueror

Archangel, Beast, Colossus, Cyclops, Gambit, Iceman, Jean Grey, Psylocke, Rogue, Storm, Wolverine (all X-Men)

Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Thing (all Fantastic Four)

Black Knight, Black Widow, Captain America, Crystal, Hercules, Quasar, She-Hulk, Thor, Vision, Wasp (all Avengers)

Dr. Druid, Hulk (both former Avengers)

Havok, Multiple Man, Polaris, Quicksilver, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane (all X-Factor)

Hawkeye, Iron Man, Living Lightning, Moon Knight, Dr. Henry Pym, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman II, USAgent, Wonder Man (all Avengers West Coast)

Aurora, Guardian III, Northstar, Puck, Sasquatch, Shaman, Weapon Omega (all Alpha Flight)

Firestar, Namorita, Nova I, Silhouette, Speedball (all New Warriors)

Agatha Harkness



Doppelgangers of Beast, Daredevil, Darkhawk, Firestar, Gambit, Moon Knight, Multiple Man, Namorita, Puck, Quicklsilver, Speedball, Thanos, USAgent, Wolfsbane

In flashback images:




Doppelgangers of Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Thanos, Wolverine

Story Notes: 

The Infinity Gems were divided among the members of the Infinity Watch, following the Living Tribunal’s judgment in Warlock & the Infinity Watch #1.

The adventures of the four psychics – Professor X, Moondragon, Psylocke and Jean Grey – are followed up on in Sleepwalker #18, whereas the adventures of the five mystics (Dr. Strange, Shaman, Scarlet Witch, Agatha Harkness and Doctor Druid) are featured in Doctor Strange (3rd series) #46-47.

Many scenes in this issue are replayed identically in Quasar #39. Quasar’s saga is explored in detail in Quasar #40.

Issue Information: 
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