Characteristics of the Infinity Gems
Initially known as the Soul Gems, and also known as the Reality Gems, the Infinity Gems are among the most powerful artifacts in existence. The unassuming gems are oblong in shape and smooth in texture. They are about 4 to 5 inches in length. The power in these gems are subtle in their influence, and if an owner is unaware of the vast potential of a gem they could very well never realize it. Each gem gives the bearer complete power and mastery over it's aspect of the universe which are Power, Reality, Space, Time, Mind, and Soul. Together the gems give whomever can combine their control over all aspects, making the wielder immensely powerful to the point of omnipotence. The gems can be mounted on the Infinity Gauntlet, a golden left glove.
Only the Living Tribunal, judge of the multiverse, is immune to the wishes of the wielder of the Infinity Gems.
Largely unknown to all but a few select beings is the origin of the gems. After discovering the true potential of the gems Thanos told the history of the gems to the Elder of the Universe, The Runner. The gems are the remains of a once omnipotent being named Nemesis whose domain was any and all realities. This great being was also utterly alone. This being attempted to create life forms, but the life forms lacked the concept of good or evil, and devolved into demonic beasts. Realizing its error the being destroyed its flawed creations. Once again alone and unable to bear the eternal solitude, the being committed suicide.
However, power at that level does not easily dissipate, and remnants of that being forged into the Infinity Gems. The gems have been found to have their own sentience, and they are all linked to one another. The most recent discovery has been that possession of these gems can allow the owner to 'find' the other gems. Though it's also been discovered that securing the first five gems consecutively becomes more difficult to obtain, though eventual ownership of five gems would give the owner enough power to lure or locate the last. This makes possession of all six next to impossible.
The Infinity Gems
Originally known as the soul gems, they were renamed the Infinity Gems by Thanos. He also gave each individual gem a name based on the power they possessed.
The Infinity Gems are:
SOUL - This green gem is the first to be seen in continuity in the Power of Warlock series. It is arguably the most dangerous. Its sentience is the most profound, and it has shown a hunger for souls, a hunger that can possess a novice user. This gem allows the user to steal, manipulate and alter souls, living or dead. Within the gem are collected souls in perpetual limbo. Mastery of the gem would allow the user to control all living life in the universe. The gem also allows the bearer access to an idyllic pocket-universe that is much like heaven.
Notable Owners: Adam Warlock, the In-Betweener, Thanos, Magus, Doctor Strange, Invisible Woman (Earth-9997/Earth-X)
POWER - This red gem contains access to all power and energy that ever has or will exist. Mastery of the gem would allow the user to duplicate any physical superhuman ability. They would be essentially physically invincible and therefore unbeatable when using raw power alone. It can also be use as an unlimited power supply for any machine. When combined, this gem can boost the effects of other gems, allowing the user to tap into a gems potential without necessarily mastering it.
Note: The color of the gem has fluctuated. When it was in the possession of Drax The Destroyer the Power Gem was noted as pink. It also appeared blue when in the possession of Thor. Whether this is intentional or not is still questionable, but for the most part the gem is red.
Notable Owners: Champion, Thanos, Magus, Drax, Thor, Mr. Fantastic, Namor
TIME - This orange gem allows the user to be in any period of time. From the beginning to the end of time, any moment is accessible or visible through its power. Those with limited knowledge in the use of the gem can cause those nearby to revert to a physically older or younger state. With enough knowledge, even more can be done, as time and causality can be manipulated with this gem. The user can also use time as a weapon, trapping enemies or entire worlds in unending loops of time. Mastery would allow the user to affect the whole universe with time manipulation, such as slowing down time in one stretch of the cosmos, freezing time in another and looping time in yet another.
Notable Owners: Gardener, Thanos, Magus, Gamora, Namor, Steve Rogers
SPACE - This purple gem allows its owner to be anywhere in an instant. They can be in multiple places in the universe, or nowhere. Mastery would allow the owner to warp or rearrange space as they see fit.
Notable Owners: Runner, Thanos, Pip the Troll, Black Bolt, Iron Man
MIND - The blue mind gem gives the owner access to all thoughts and dreams. It also gives the user a wide number of other mentally related abilities including telekinesis. It encompasses the collective consciousness of the universe. In the hands of one unskilled in its use, the gem could unleash your dreams and nightmares uncontrollably within your mind. Worse yet, one oblivious to the dangers can have their inner demons overwhelm them. For a novice user it can add or boost mental power, and augment the mind's abilities. Further knowledge of the gem can allow the user to tap into further power. Where the reality gem alters reality itself, the Mind gem can make you think the world has changed. Mastery would allow the user to access all the minds of the universe, simultaneously.
Notable Owners: Grandmaster, Thanos, Magus, Moondragon, Professor X
REALITY - They say that perception is reality. The yellow Infinity gem makes that quite literally true. Perhaps the most powerful of the gems, mastery can render scientific laws meaningless, senses useless. With this gem wishes can be obtained. The vastness of its power can overwhelm its user, making a novice cease to exist. This gem is perhaps even more dangerous by itself than with the the help of another gem to manage its power. It is the most difficult to control and utilize.
Notable Owners: Collector, Thanos, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic
The Seventh Gem
Often ignored, best forgotten, the seventh gem was created for a Marvel/Ultraverse crossover. The seventh gem, Ego, was discovered by Loki. It was found that Nemesis, an omnipotent being in the Ultraverse, was the source of the Infinity Gems and that the seventh gem was her remaining consciousness. When combined, this gem would give the other gems form and sentience. These gem embodiments fought the combined might of the Avengers and Ultraforce.
At an undisclosed time in recent Marvel history the Infinity Gems were under the protection of the Illuminati. Charles Xavier, Iron Man, Black Bolt, Namor, Mister Fantastic & Doctor Strange all had an Infinity Gem in their possession and stored it in what they thought to be a safe place.
However, recently in the Avengers ongoing the Hood has begun gathering the Infinity Gems in a mad quest for power. He learned of them from an Inhuman long thought dead who was imprisoned with him on Ryker's Island. Paying one of the guards a substantial amount of money to escape he has journeyed to Attilan the former home of the Inhumans in the Himalayas to recover the Reality Gem. It was left on Earth by Black Bolt and unknown to the other Inhumans at the time of his death. He has also recovered the Power Gem from Reed Richards laboratory in the Baxter Building. Showcasing the Power Gem's abilities he has already easily defeated the Red Hulk in hand to hand combat. After the Hood is defeated, the members of the Illuminati, now joined by Captain America, hide the gems once more.
In New Avengers, the members of the Illuminati come back together to prevent incursions from parallel Earths. Black Panther and Beast join the team, and Captain America is expelled after he accidentally shatters the gems. During Original Sin, the Time Gem returns, and takes Captain America on a tour of the future, where he subsequently encounters Iron Lad, Kang the Conqueror, and Immortus. He ends up destroying the Time Gem in order to prevent Kang and the others from holding him prisoner.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are six Infinity Stones, each of which are sought after by Thanos. Rather than being a matching (albeit differently-colored) set of gems, the stones all sport radically different appearances.
In Guardians of the Galaxy, an origin is provided for the Stones. It is stated that the six Stones represent forces that existed before the creation of the universe, and that only beings of immense power can wield them.