Few dispute the brilliance of the Infinity Gauntlet saga as a work of art, but how exactly does it stack up in regards to strategy, tactics, and execution? I will take a look at three participants each week (or so) and grade them (where applicable) on a five-point scale. By doing so, we will see why certain strategies succeeded, while others failed. We’ll judge process, not results. After all, it’s not really She-Hulk’s fault that an omnipotent asshole had a carnivorous fungus eat her almost immediately.
One of the fun Infinity Gauntlet tropes is that for a portion of the story Thanos has literal personifications of “good” and “evil” dishing out advice. I use “good” in the loosest possible sense of the word, as I am referring to Thanos’ serial rapist brother Eros. The thing is, there are a bunch of words for “love” in Greek, and they all mean different things: “eros” means “romantic love” or “sexual passion.” If you really want to offset Mephisto, you need a Titan named Agape. But once Thanos removes Eros’ mouth from the situation, we’re left with only Mephisto, the 616’s resident devil. There are a lot of MVP candidates in this story, but Ol’ Scratch deserves some consideration.
Mephisto isn’t interested in helping the heroes. He’s only interested in self-preservation, but once he realizes that Thanos will never be happy with his self-appointed counselor for long, he does what he can to undermine him in subtle ways — in fact, it’s Mephisto who ultimately convinces Thanos that facing Earth’s heroes with reduced power may win him Death’s affections. Without him, the heroes have zero chance.
The only real criticism of Mephisto is that he didn’t do more, but he was in a sticky situation. If he were to overplay his hand, he would have ended up like Eros, or worse. His strategy required lulling Thanos without letting on that his goal was leading him into self-destructive action, and he pulled it off beautifully.
Give the devil his due. Mephisto may be evil, but he’s also petty, jealous, unable to abide the essential destruction of the universe any more than the heroes. That Thanos implicitly trusts him is height of hubris and almost costs him dearly. As they say, pride goeth before the fall.
The Submariner has a limited role in the battle as part of the front line cannon fodder. Most of the time, the heroes attack in pairs like Hulk/Drax, Cyclops/Scarlet Witch, and Namor/She-Hulk. Ideally this distracts Thanos, exposing him to a more powerful third attacker.
Namor and She-Hulk hit Thanos with a powerful dual blow, but it’s not enough to distract or to cause serious damage. But they did serve as a good test, and clearly established just how tough Thanos was going to be. It would have been nice to see Namor get in a few more punches, but it’s hard to be too harsh on him given his status as a heavy and his assigned direct assault.
Battle Execution: 0.0
What I don’t understand is why Doctor Strange didn’t send Namor magically covered in water. Namor is one of the strongest characters in the Marvel universe — provided he’s wet. Sure, maybe Thanos would have flash-boiled him like a lobster had he appeared in a bubble, but he could have done that anyway. This isn’t Namor’s fault, but it’s a strange oversight. In a lot of Namor comics, water is basically treated like Popeye’s spinach. I grant that it wouldn’t have been decisive, but it’s still a costly mistake.
Cannon fodder is cannon fodder. Someone has to be on the front line, and Namor did what he could with a thankless role.
One more hero on the next page!