The Infinity Gauntlet is a six issue miniseries written by Jim Starlin, penciled by George Perez and inked by Ron Lim published in 1991.
Mistress Death is upset that the balance between life and death has recently not been in her favor. Her solution is to give her ardent follower, Thanos, a chance at rebirth setting him forth with a mission of killing half the life in the universe. Despite his powers, Thanos realizes his mission is near impossible. Remembering the Infinity Gems that were instrumental in his death, he peered into the Infinity Well to discover their secrets. He divines the true nature of the gems, and their current owners.
The Thanos Quest
Thanos discovers that the Infinity Gems are currently in possession of the Elders of the Universe with the Soul Gem in possession of the In-Betweener. With cunning, Thanos is able to obtain possession of the gems. He then places the gems on the Infinity Gauntlet, and becomes the most powerful being in the universe.
The Infinity Gauntlet
Thanos immediately fulfills his objective and kills half of all life in the universe. He also brings a tortured Nebula (who alleges to be his granddaughter) as a sacrifice to Death. But because Thanos is so powerful, becoming superior to Death in every facet, Thanos' hope of being treated as an equal escapes his grasp. He gleans from Death that they are not equal, and Death becomes subservient to him. This infuriates Thanos who doesn't want Death as a slave but as a lover. In an attempt to make Death jealous, he creates a mate, Terraxia.
On earth, the heroes are informed by the Silver Surfer as to the reason for the monumental genocide. All of Marvel's mightiest heroes band together to try to defeat Thanos and save the universe. Despite previous conflicts with the Mad Titan, Thanos still remains a mystery. Adam Warlock, one of Thanos' most persistent foes, is asked to lead the forces.
Knowing full well the impossible odds, Adam Warlock and Silver Surfer attempt cosmic diplomacy in the hopes of thwarting Thanos. The two heroes meet up with Epoch and her cosmic champion Quasar and a cosmic summit of the great cosmic powers begins. It includes Eternity, the Watcher Uatu, Kronos, Lord Chaos, Master Order, the Celestials, Galactus, Stranger, Love and Hate and the Living Tribunal. In the summit Eternity tries to convince the Living Tribunal to intervene. The Living Tribunal refuses, in since he believes that if Thanos were to replace Eternity it would still be within the process in natural selection. After seeing this, Adam Warlock persuades the Cosmic powers to aid them in stopping Thanos.
Thanos is fully aware of the coming conflict. Mephisto arrives and advises Thanos to remove his omniscience to make the fight somewhat fair in the hopes of impressing Death. Despite the machinations of Mephisto, the battle is grueling and over quickly for the heroes. Thanos dispatched the heroes with ease. Some examples of the carnage include Terraxia murdering Spider-Man and decapitating Iron Man. The X-men fared no better, as Wolverine had his adamantium skeleton turned to spongy rubber and Cyclops had his head trapped in a cube, stopping his optic blasts and suffocating him. Cosmic heroes like Nova was turned into small cubes, and with Quasar, Thanos causes the Quantum Bands upon his wrists to explode and then disintegrated him. Fearsome foes like Thor were turned to glass. The last man standing was Captain America, who made his last stand. Absent from the battle and light years away were the Silver Surfer and Adam Warlock, who knew and fully expected the frontal assault to fail. The key to the real strategy was Mephisto's involvement. After shattering Captain America's shield, Thanos raised his fist to deliver the final blow. This was the cue for Adam Warlock's true plan to go into effect as Surfer rushed in to steal the gauntlet. This gambit failed, and Thanos realized how close he was to failure himself. He once again reinstated his omniscience, and became all-powerful, all-knowing once again.
It was then that the Cosmic forces themselves attacked. The mighty forces, each near-omnipotent on their own, were no match for the omnipotence the Infinity Gauntlet bestowed upon Thanos. Eternity and Thanos had a final epic battle where Thanos perseveres, becoming the embodiment of this universe's reality. Thanos sheds his mortal form and takes his place Eternity's replacement. Nebula seizes this opportunity to take the gauntlet from the former body of Thanos. Thanos realizes his error and joins with the remaining heroes and cosmic forces to defeat the now omnipotent Nebula. Their relentless attack on the confused Gauntlet wielder allows Adam Warlock to enter the Soul Gem, a gem he is intimately attached to. From within the Soul Gem he links with the other Infinity Gems and causes the gems to feedback on Nebula, causing her to remove it.
Adam Warlock then becomes wielder of the Gauntlet. In an attempt to be a "perfect" god, Warlock's first use of the power was to expel from his soul the Good and Evil. This was the first step to his reign as God. But before he can begin, the Living Tribunal appears and deems Warlock too unstable and therefore unfit to wield the power. He didn't appear previously because he knew that Thanos wouldn't upset the delicate balance of the universe. Without morals or vices, with his sole focus of being a god being undermined, Warlock violently reacts to the Living Tribunal's judgment. The Living Tribunal dismisses Warlock's uses of the Gauntlet and deems that they would no longer be able to function together, preventing anyone from achieving omnipotence through possession of the gems. The gems separate, and Adam Warlock forms Infinity Watch to safeguard the powerful and dangerous Infinity Gems. Thanos retreats to a life of farming to reflect on his life, death, and brush with godhood.
- Rebirth of Thanos - this story arc set the stage to bring Thanos back into the limelight of the Marvel Universe and was the immediate precursor for Infinity Gauntlet.