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CSBG Archive

Gimmick or Good? – Infinity Crusade #1

infinitycrusadecoverIn this column, Mark Ginocchio (from Chasing Amazing) takes a look at the gimmick covers from the 1990s and gives his take on whether the comic in question was just a gimmick or whether the comic within the gimmick cover was good. Hence “Gimmick or Good?” Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far. We continue with 1993’s foil cover for Infinity Crusade #1…

Infinity Crusade #1 (published June 1993) – script by Jim Starlin, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Al Milgrom

With the release of Marvel’s newest “Infinity” mini-series, I thought it would be apropos to revisit the third incarnation of the cosmic soap opera with 1993’s “Infinity Crusade.” Writer Jim Starlin had successfully ushered some of his signature Marvel characters in Thanos and Adam Warlock for a new generation of readers with 1991’s “Infinity Gauntlet,” but had started to lose some steam with the concept with the Warlock-centric “Infinity War” mini a year later (which I profiled on “Gimmick or Good?” a few months ago). Crusade would go on to be Starlin’s last “Infinity” series in the 1990s (until “Infinity Abyss” in 2002). In terms of gimmick enhancements, only Crusade’s first issue had one – a “holofoil” effect that resembled beams of light – but for clarification’s sake, in this review I will refer to some larger plot points that are brought up more than just the first issue of this mini-series.

So what about inside the comic?

First, a minor digression. Even as an arrogant, know-it-all teenager, I understood the fastest way to ruin a social outing was to bring up politics or religion. It doesn’t matter how right you think you are, or how intelligently you explain your viewpoints, there’s always going to be somebody in mixed company whose ideology is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from yours. And once you start arguing with that person, inevitably everybody’s evening is ruined.

That’s what bothers me so much about Infinity Crusade – it’s not even an issue of whether or not I agree with Starlin’s thesis (for the sake of my earlier comment, I’m going to maintain the position that my views on religion are irrelevant). It’s the fact that Starlin is so obnoxiously in your face about his ideology that he’s all but daring people to disagree and get angry with him. Because of this socially awkward and inappropriate approach to storytelling, Crusade #1 and the rest of the series makes for an incredibly off-putting comic book reading experience.

Crusade’s central character is a cosmic entity known as the “Goddess” – who was created from the “good” essence of Warlock (similar to how Infinity War’s Magus was the “evil” side). The Goddess controls a number of containment units similar to cosmic cubes, which together create an “egg” capable of fulfilling her wishes. She uses this power to brainwash half of the Marvel superhero population into joining her fight to eradicate the world of sin and evil. It’s up to the other half of the universe, which includes the likes of Thanos of Mephisto (Marvel’s “devil”) to defeat the Goddess.

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As a quick aside, I do wonder how she was able to keep up with Quicksilver here to make her pious pitch.

Crusade01

Putting aside some of the larger flaws concerning Crusade’s execution, what makes Starlin’s concept so dicey is the fact that as one hero after another is getting picked off by the Goddess in the mini’s first issue, including Sue Storm from the Fantastic Four (but not Reed, Johnny or the Thing), the Vision concludes that all of the brainwashed heroes share something in common – they’re “religious.”

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Let’s talk about the meaning of “religious” for a second. So among the group of the brainwashed are some understandable choices like Captain America (which I guess only makes sense if you equate patriotism to religious spiritualism), some confusing ones like Spider-Man (do we ever establish “religion” with him?), and some outright absurd ones like Thor and Storm. Thor is based on Norse mythology and Storm was worshipped as a rain goddess prior to joining the X-Men. So what the heck does Vision mean by “religious.” Is he talking about Judeo Christian religious, or something broader? And that’s what makes Starlin such a trouble-maker with Crusade – he’s essentially deriding the general concept of “having faith” in something, anything, as being easily duped by a larger force.

It’s no surprise then that Starlin couches the more science-valuing characters in the Marvel Universe (Reed, Bruce Banner as Hulk, Tony Stark) as the “heroes.” In other words, characters who place “logic” over faith. It’s not even done in a subtle or artistic way. Starlin draws the line in the sand pretty clearly: the eggheads are the good guys and the “religious” folk are following the orders of a sociopath that is looking to destroy half of the planet for being “sinners.”

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So if you haven’t been completely alienated by Starlin’s thesis yet, let’s bring up a few more issues I have with the comic and the whole series. Similar to Infinity Gauntlet and War, in Crusade, Starlin crafts a plot device where he essentially wipes out half the Marvel universe in a single stroke despite the fact that the mini is advertised as a mega-crossover starring everyone. If you’re reading this comic looking for a cool moment involving Thor or Storm, you’re out of luck because they’ve been reduced to mindless zombies with no personality. Just like how Thanos killed half the world in Gauntlet and the evil doppelgangers in Crusade took some heroes away from the action. This device made sense in Gauntlet since it played into Thanos courting death. It made considerably less sense in War and just smacks of flat-out laziness in Crusade. For all of its criticisms, Marvel’s Secret Wars made a concerted effort to give each of the characters “moments.” Starlin couldn’t be bothered.

Like War, Crusade also struggles with the fact that Starlin can’t help but give characters he has some semblance of ownership of – whether it’s from his 1970s work at Marvel, or his Warlock and the Infinity Watch series in the 1990s – all of the accolades, while the rest of the superhero universe comes across as a bunch of simpletons or background players. Who needs a fun sequence with Captain America or Daredevil when Moondragon and Warlock are available? I will say that I could always use some more Pip the Troll.
Again, similar to War, Lim’s artwork on Crusade ranges between pretty good to rushing to make a deadline. The cosmic imagery showing the Goddess among the stars or in her wish fulfillment egg are consistently good, but the larger battle sequences are occasionally problematic.

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So unless you want to hear a then-40-year-old rail against the evils of organized religion through the voices of comic book characters, I would steer clear of this one. While I called War a “gimmick,” that series at least had its share of fun moments. Crusade may be the worst of the bunch. No wonder why it took nearly 10 years to resurrect the idea. Now let’s see how Jonathan Hickaman does.

Verdict: Gimmick

54 Comments

This is currently in my “Non-current comics too read pile” along with the previous two minis. Granted, that pile is almost 3 feet high so who knows when I’ll get to it. Back when they came out, I was a pretty big fan of all three of the “Infinity” series, with Gauntlet being the best in my opinion. I was a regular church-goer when this came out and still liked it. It’ll be interesting to see what I think of it now.

Crusade wasn’t that bad.

In that last image, why is The Goddess surrounded by intergalactic dragon dice?

Is she rolling for the initiative to wipe out evil?

I rememer hating it but still buying it cause I liked Jim Starlin. The fanboy inside couldn’t let it go.

You focused on one aspect of this to the exclusion of all else.

And I disagree with your position anyway. A lot of good people have done bad things because their religion has told them, so I’m not rejecting Starlin’s premise. Religion has a long history of misguided followers, even a cursory glance at history would inform you of that fact. So, his set-up is sound.

The Infinity trilogy was one of diminishing returns but this LS had its fun bits and Stalin is the only person, apart from Peter David, who can write Thanos properly.

The Ghost Of Christopher Hitchens

August 18, 2013 at 1:24 am

Adults with invisible friends are stupid.

I enjoyed this. Not as much as the others, (.though more than abyss).
I didn’t even read it as anti religion in any way. A world where gods walk among us is surely going to disagree with most organised religions so you have to kind of let go.

[…] I thought the timing was right to review 1993′s Infinity Crusade mini-series for my latest Gimmick or Good? feature on Comics Should Be Good’s web site. Crusade was the third “Infinity” […]

Part of the problem with Stralin’s post-Infinity Gauntlet stories involving Thanos and Adam Warlock is that they’re recycling the same set of ideas from his ’70’s Warlock run. Then, the whole thing was fresh and engaging, playing off of Warlock’s previous iteration as a messiah figure by showing how such things ossify and atrophy when “institutionalized” (and he gets a bit heavy handed w/the metaphor of this at times, but it’s still fairly well done). By the time we get to Crusade, he’s simply flogging a dead horse: he’s told the story, better, previously. It’s not simply that he’s dealing with a controversial matter in a hamfisted way (which was the case), it’s that it’s boring. Much like Age of Ultron, the reader knows there’ll be little of consequence coming from this (were any of the heroes afterward portrayed in a different light given their characterization as religious? Nope, not that I recall). Consequently, IC just read as Marvel going to the well once too often with the “Infinity et al” franchise. Unsubtle storytelling isn’t a writing flaw per se — but a dull narrative that doesn’t even seem to engage it’s author is. IC seems to be a striking instance of the latter.

What bothered me in Crusade was that it drew a sharp line telling the “good at heart” from the “impure” – and then it freaking put USAgent in the first team. To add insult to injury, it put Steve Rogers in that same team.

That frustrated the heck out of me, because ever since USAgent was introducted I have been waiting for his end. Yet Marvel for some reason just kept featuring him as if he were in some sense a hero.

There is also the larger issue of how gimmicky the marketing and presentation of Crusade (and War and to a slightly lesser degree Gauntlet) was. There was a ton of superficial tie-ins, and Crusade itself all but demanded that you read Infinity Watch as well. It was both an artificially wide crossover (since the main books had little need or interest to tie-in) and an unforgiving one.

Last but not least, the plot itself is, well, quite lazy indeed. Very few surprises, and only a very basic tale to tell, albeit one that has been enlarged to be literally universe-wide. Hardly the engaging read that such a money-grabber ought to be.

The worst part of this is the art.

People who believe in organized religion are stupider than people who don’t

Stupidity isn’t exclusive to any group. The problem isn’t religion, or even “organized” religion, the problem is self-rigtheousness, the certainty that you are absolutely right about everything. Yeah, I see that in a lot of religious folks, I also see a lot of that in hard-nosed materialists. I see the New Atheism movement simply as the other side of the coin of the Fundamentalist Christians.

The way the activist materialistic skeptics have denigrated, ridiculed, and even supressed any scientific research that defends that (for instance) the mind is a non-localized phenomenum, is essentialy identical in mindset to the way the Church used to hunt down heretics. Whenever a worldview becomes mainstream among a segment of people, the “heretics” are not dealt with gently. It’s only that more sophisticated people use more sophisticated methods of hunting them down.

What’s annoying about people trotting out the usual criticisms of organized religion is that it doesn’t take too much homework and common sense to uncover more mundane and material causes for said atrocities. “Religion” isn’t really the cause at all. The usual historical suspects are presented without proper context and background, and then criticized according to modern sensibilities. So much for the sobriety of Reason…

“Crusade” is a tricky one for me. It was one of the first major crossovers from the Big 2 that I skipped. I bought almost every tie-in with “Gauntlet” and “War.” I literally bought every single Zero issue when DC did “Zero Hour.” And yet I dropped “Crusade” after issue 1. I wish I could go back into my 15-year-old mind and figure out what about this mini-series so turned me off, while I continued to buy a lot of other terrible, terrible stuff out of a completist mentality.

I do think part of it was the eye-rolling, heavy-handed take on religion. I also think part of it was the diminishing-returns aspect of the Infinity minis. I enjoyed “Gauntlet,” thought the idea behind “War” was fun, but didn’t care for the execution. And then there was this.

Also, and I realize I’m in the minority here, but I’ve never been a huge Starlin fan. I missed his heyday as a creator, but almost everything I’ve ready by him as a writer or artist I’ve found to be competent at best or infuriating at worst.

Agreed, Anthony

Aside from making random character religious, and then making them break their religions on the say so of a random new character, this is just a complete rehash of the previous Starlin mini series. He would do it once again with The End and the Heart of the Universe. What obsession does this man have with all powerful objects such as the Gems, the Gauntlet, and the Heart.

Going back to the religion stuff, the brainwashing part really helps, in my view, as they are not religious characters turned villains, but just classic comic book mind possessed characters

I don’t understand your objection to Storm’s inclusion as one of the religious. She had always been portrayed as religious by Claremont– a sort of vaguely defined Pagan, but definitely devout. The fact that she herself had been worshipped as a goddess seems irrelevant.

Back in the 1990s, I unfortunately had the mentality that if I did not buy all three parts of Jim Starlin’s Infinity trilogy, I would be missing something very crucial. That’s why I also stuck with various other titles for some time after I really stopped enjoying them. Anyway, while Infinity Gauntlet was pretty good, I really did not like Infinity War (aka Infinity Snore) or Infinity Crusade, and a few years later I got rid of both of them on Ebay.

I find it difficult to disagree with any of the points raised in this, but somehow I manage to enjoy the miniseries. Perhaps Starlin’s disdain for the collective “super heroes” of Earth is what draws me in. The Avengers, the world’s greatest heroes, are often simply pawns for Thanos and Warlock, or worse, plain old cannon fodder. That brazen style of carelessness always appealed to me more than say Geoff Johns’ idolatry.

It’s weird: I don’t remember this being as anti-religion as you describe it, but then I haven’t read it since it first came out. I interpreted the Goddess’s power not as an indictment against faith, but just as her power: she could exploit people faith. That didn’t make faith bad (and again, this is how I remember it – it’s possible there were bits I’m forgetting that make it more explicitly anti-religion) any more than it would make love bad if someone had the power to manipulate people who were in love. Like, her powers keyed into the portion of the brain responsible for generating faith, and the more you used that part, the more she had to latch on to. Something like that. I guess the important part was that, yeah, she used your faith to control you, but that didn’t mean your faith was misplaced – hell, Thor knows for a fact that the things he has faith in exist; he’s related to them!

And I could swear that it was … maybe not totally specific, per se, but fairly clear what was meant by “religious.” While it did seem like it was being left vague enough that any given character could be included or excluded without explanation (I remember being bothered about that “we couldn’t contact Excalibur” part, because Excalibur was my favorite comic at the time and every single member of the team should have been on the “religious” team – even back then Nightcrawler was the poster child for religious superheroes!) I remember being certain that it had nothing to do with a specific religion, but basically having strong faith in something, to use a cliché, “larger than yourself.” Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, it didn’t matter. Thor got taken because of his belief in Odin and the other Norse gods. Storm because of the “Goddess!” she was constantly calling out to. It didn’t matter if you believed in God or Galactus or the American Dream or the Phoenix Force, it just mattered that you believed in something.

Matthew –

The sort of thing you’re refering to always reminded me of a kind of bad fan fiction where the writer’s pet creation is shown to be so much better than other people’s creations. It always seemed to be pointless and petty to me. It was less so in the 1970s, when Jim Starlin was at the top of his game. But in the 1990s? By the 1990s Warlock and Thanos were as “decadent” as the 1960s Lee/Kirby superheroes, so I don’t see what justifies them as so “special” except that they happen to be creations of the guy that is writing the mini.

And not that Geoff Johns’s writing isn’t fan fic-ish. It is. But it’s a different kind of fan fiction.

ZZZ –

Sometimes a story is just a story, but I would have an easier time buying this thesis if the writer were someone like Chris Claremont or Kurt Busiek, guys that have portrayed both the negative and positive sides of religion before. But Jim Starlin has always been staunchingly anti-religion. So yeah, “Infinity Crusade” reads like “Haha! Religion makes you a dupe!”

And Starlin (and others like him) gets it exactly backwards. It isn’t that religion makes you easier to manipulate. It’s that people who are easier to manipulate naturally gravitate to the mainstream worldview of their societies. I.e., if they’re born in the American Deep South they’d be Evangelicals, if they’re born in Soviet Russia they’d be atheist believers in the Proletariat, if they’re born in New York City they’d be “sophisticated” agnostics, etc.

LouReedRichards

August 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

I just read the Infinity Gauntlet tpb for the first time, and it was a real chore to get through. I’m a fan of Starlin’s Warlock stuff from the 70’s but IG just felt really tired and played out. I can only imagine how much more more repetitive and redundant Infinity War and Crusade must be. I just wish he could have left Thanos and Adam Warlock dead.
Plus the Ron Lim art work leaves me cold…those faces…

@Rene – pretty much 100% agreement with your statements on religion and Starlin – thanks! You said it better and more succinctly than I could have.

@ Dan Larkin:

I always liked Ron Lim, but he seemed miscast as the “cosmic Marvel guy”. He drew a nice Silver Surfer, but wasn’t nearly as dynamic as John Buscema. He drew great aliens, mutants and other weird characters. Unfortunately, his figures were stiff and his humans uniformly pretty, which made him an awkward fit for both Kirby and Ditko creations. His weaknesses really outweighed his strengths in a cross-over.

It is a shame that he never did a run on the Legion, since he is a natural heir to John Forte and Keith Giffen.

Of course, the inks by Al Milgrom are doing Lim no favors. Milgrom was a more conventional Marvel artist, who was perfectly comfortable drawing uglier people. The problem is that Milgom was every bit as stiff as Lim. The art would’ve been better served by a pretty inker that could’ve still added character, like Terry Austin or Bob Layton.

@ Mary Warner:

You are exactly right. Storm was always very clearly a person of faith, but that faith was totally unrelated the Abrahamic tradition. It was one of the most interesting things about her.

Sam Robards, Comic Fan

August 19, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I read this not too long ago (maybe a year or so), and it’s easily the weakest of the three main Infinity stories. I don’t know that I can say it’s bad, but it definitely has its fair share of weaknesses.

I can see how the initial premise of “the faithful” (for lack of a better term) being mind-controlled could be offensive to some people, but I didn’t get too wound up about it.

If we’re talking about controversial themes, I’d say that Starlin’s argument that a being of absolute good (the Goddess was supposed to be composed of all of Adam Warlock’s goodness and positive emotions) is just as bad/harmful as absolute evil (the Magus) is far more offensive, at least when taken through a Christian perspective.

I still can’t find the motivation to get really upset about that, as it’s just one man’s opinion, after all.

That said, I love this series of columns. It really gives me a chance to reevaluate the comics that influenced my early days as a reader. Are there a certain number of columns planned, or will they just keep coming? I’m hoping it’s the latter.

“I don’t know that I can say it’s bad…”

I can. It’s bad.

The tie-ins are even worse.

Crusade wasn’t as good as War which wasn’t as good as Gauntlet.

I really didn’t buy the Goddess’ whole thing as “so good she’s evil.” Good is a good thing!

With all of the religion vs. logic stuff Starlin does, I wonder if he’s an Objectivist…

Thanks, Lou.

Saul, I don’t think Starlin is an Objectivist. For one, he is not an American patriot like almost all Objectivists I know. I remember Starlin subtly comparing Galactus to the USA in a comic, probably implying that America “devours” other countries and leaves destruction in its wake.

I think Starlin is more the leftist anti-establishment type. He seems to be very influenced by leftist writers like Michael Moorcock

This article contains the best thing about Crusade – Iceman tripping Speedball into She-Hulk’s breasts.

Also, any crossover is immediately lessened by including Sleepwalker. Sleepwalker!

The premise of the story was faulty from the start. For the most part the characters are never shown as religious probably because it would be too controversial, with a few exceptions like DD. I can’t think of one instance of Spidey doing anything that showed any religion.

One pet peeve of mine is that somehow science is the opposite of religion. The more I learn about physics, evolution, etc. the more my faith is reinforced.

But otherwise this book was awful. Probably the worst event story ever (or so far).

at least it had terror inc

Of course Northstar, the Marvel U’s premiere homosexual, would be among the godless non-believers… ;-)

I totally agree with so many of your points – Starlin was definitely making religion and, by comparison, religious people, look dumb. And the story really lagged and felt like it never stopped. Not many good moments (except the previously mentioned point about Iceman, Speedball, and She-Hulk lol). However, not to nitpick too much, but Vision’s assessment of those taken by the Goddess also included people who’d died before. They didn’t all have to be religious per se, but he definitely said that some of them had died and that was straight-up the only reason they’d been chosen. For example, I don’t think Jean Grey was religious, but the Goddess chose her. Moondragon isn’t religious and she was the Goddess’s first in command. And I’d have to check to see if Spider-Man had died before this, because I feel he’d fit in with the brainy types (the “good guys”).

“Crusade may be the worst of the bunch. No wonder why it took nearly 10 years to resurrect the idea. Now let’s see how Jonathan Hickaman does.”

1993 was TWENTY years ago.

@ Matt

But what he meant was cosmic events/crossovers. I think he was maybe referring to Infinity Abyss.

I disagree with your analysis of the book. Sorry i had to read your opinion of someone elses story.

The author of this article is as biased as the forty year old he tries to crush. he writes the article in such a way that what he is writing is correct and the author of the story is wrong. Just admit at the start that you are biased and i can stop reading your junk.

This story sucked, after Infinity Gauntlet everything else was just a rehashed story arc

@Matt @Saul correct, referring to the 10 years or so that passed between “Infinity’s” – Crusade and Abyss.

Living Tribunal

August 21, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Simply stated: I’ll take “War” and “Crusade” anytime over such drivel as Fear Itself and Age of Ultron (to name only a few.

“So what the heck does Vision mean by “religious.” Is he talking about Judeo Christian religious, or something broader?”

Really? If one wanted to know what theory Vision “was in the process of formulating”, one should’ve kept reading. He explained it on that issue’s 32nd page, a edited version (excluding brief lines from Havoc & Iron Man) of which I [re-]quote off of http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/InfinityCrusade.html:

“Now that the appropriate files have been examined I believe I have sufficient hard data to put forth that theory I mentioned earlier. I feel confident I know why these particular paranormals were abducted. All the missing share a common trait or experience… An event or attitude that might be categorized as religious. Many among the missing hold deeply felt moral stands or intense spiritual belief systems. Those who do not fit that profile have all had after-death experiences… My theory does not hold that these attitudes aided in the missing individual’s abduction, only that these traits may have determined who would be taken.”

Which sort of repeats what the Goddess said to at least three heroes earlier in the book. (If online scans are accurate, those panels appear RIGHT AFTER/UNDER the Quicksilver panel, and yet it’s like someone forgot they were there:)

“To do this, I have some to beings, like yourself, Doctor Strange, who are deeply in touch with the spiritual side of their nature.”

“Others, Wonder Man, I have chosen because they have tasted death and see past the confining boundaries of mere mortal existence.”

“You, Captain America, I have selected because of your depth of moral character, your honesty, and bravery.”

Also, I think declaring that Starlin was “essentially deriding the general concept of ‘having faith’ in something, anything, as being easily duped by a larger force” was somewhat harsh. There was of course PSYCHIC MIND CONTROL involved.

(I won’t fight most other complaints about the crossovers, art & story. And why did Captain America & USAgent wind up becoming especially bloodthirsty?)

Here’s one thing that you are completely off-base about. Starlin isn’t focused on Judeo-Christian “religious”. He looked to be pretty much even-handed in his definition of “religious”, and your arguments about his inclusions are just… off. While not ALL of them are so obvious, I will argue about some of the ones you mention.

Captain America isn’t on there because he’s patriotic, he’s on there because there’s a very good chance he’s the kind of guy (and from the part of history) that would go to church every Sunday (this idea is reinforced by the inclusion of the conservative-in-every-way USAgent also being there). Thor and Storm were both religious figures, since they were worshipped as such. With them, you could have the debate about whether that reinforces their idea of religion or makes them jaded to it, but it’s not ABSURD to include them. Likewise with Hercules, who’s all but unrecognizable right next to Thor. Moon Knight is, technically, a priest of his god Khonshu, and the character next to him, if it is who I think it is, was an Indian shaman with Alpha Flight. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver grew up in gypsy culture (assuming my memory is right) which has a varied mix of superstition and organized religion as a pillar of their lives.

Disagree with the idea of the crossover itself, but don’t get your arguments all muddled up like that, please.

@Ernie I apologize if this wasn’t articulated clearly enough for you but what I find “absurd” about some of those inclusions is the label of them being “religious.” It’s way too loaded and broad of a word and shouldn’t be how these characters are defined. @Ray of S. posted more of the text, which clarifies things somewhat but still feels cherry picked by Starlin. I also think equating Judea Christian spirituality with Norse Mythology, with Greek Mythology, with Pagan Mythology, with Shamanism, etc. is just insultingly glib and demeaning. Wars have been fought over the differences in these philosophies and Starlin is grouping them altogether to make a larger atheistic point. Bully for him. I think it’s absurd that he did that. That’s of course just my opinion.

“I also think equating Judea Christian spirituality with Norse Mythology, with Greek Mythology, with Pagan Mythology, with Shamanism, etc. is just insultingly glib and demeaning. Wars have been fought over the differences in these philosophies and Starlin is grouping them altogether to make a larger atheistic point. Bully for him. I think it’s absurd that he did that. That’s of course just my opinion.” … and therein lies your hang up. It sounds like you buy into the “differences” more than you do the similiarities (and I think it’s odd that you seem to think the fact that wars have been fought over those differences validates them); Starlin, as you point out, had a different take.

@hugeknot … you’re arguing semantics. They’re all a system of “beliefs” but are they all “religions?” I don’t think that’s a fair analysis, and it’s lazy writing by Starlin. If we’re talking about beliefs and convictions, let’s throw Thanos in with the Goddess since he’s a nihilist and worships death, let’s throw Iron Man into the mix for believing so deeply in Capitalism. Let’s throw Mephisto in there for believing in Hell and the Underworld … Did Bruce and Betsy get married in a church? Why isn’t Hulk on Team Goddess? Ditto for Reed Richards …

Starlin attempts to glibly group his “teams” together by those who “talk to invisible people” except for Thor and Storm (and others) who ARE the invisible people to some. It’s as muddled and incongruous as the argument you claim I’m making.

Mark –

While I don’t like it that Starlin portrays the “religious” as easily controlled dupes in a “crusade”, I don’t have such a problem with the division itself. I suppose Starlin is going for a materialistic vs. spiritualistic dichotomy. So you couldn’t include Iron Man as “religious” (you COULD include Mephisto, but for some reason the Goddess was only recruiting superheroes). Marriying in a church also doesn’t make one a spiritualist.

And I’m sorry, but to an atheist, Judeo-Christian spirituality is no less a “superstition” than Norse or Greek Myth. Actually, there are arguments that a lot of what is said about Jesus Christ was co-opted from pagan mystery cults, presumably because Paul the Apostle wanted to make Jesus worship palatable to the Romans.

Good comics should get you ask big personal questions and IC did that in spades. Just trying to decipher the reasons for her choices given how much we know of these characters forces us to face what we believe versus what those characters may have believed that lead them into her trap. That’s compelling fiction. Although, I thought ending needed more bite.

Not really sure what the hell you are talking about. ‘Stalin wrote Infinity Crusade as some kind of thesis that all religious beliefs are bad and therefore this mini-series is’- huh?

1- The hero vs hero fights in IC are far better set-up than the AvsX.
2- If you didn’t realize that after IG and IW that Adam Warlock and company were going to be the main characters in IC, the final chapter of the trilogy, I’m not sure what I can say.
3- So the character with the giant wishing ‘egg’ who has the power to beam herself all over the world at the same time, revealing herself to only those she wants to- and you have a problem on how she can keep pace with Quick Silver!? Seriously?

Now yes IG>IW>IC, that part I understand. Everything else is like someone bitching about a Harry Potter movie (or book) because it has Harry Potter and witches in it.

I love Jim Starlin as a writer/artist, but he DOES have a very annoying tendency to go back over the same territory over and over and over and over again. Dreadstar, Warlock, the Infinity Stuff, the Rann/Thanagar/Mystery in Space stuff, it’s all essentially the same story.

Once again I fully disagree because once again you missed the point, big time (I’ll get back to this). Infinity Crusade is far from being a great comic but, despite its flaws, it’s mindless entertaining popcorn fun with excellent art.

Now, the POINT: this story isn’t about religion. Religion is only a relatively minor part of it. Like most superhero stories, it’s about good and evil. In this case, more specifically, their balance and their existence in a fictional universe full of entities that are physical manifestations of concepts like Infinity and Death that exist alongside actual gods and demons. You, in your mind, are the one that made your reading about religion. You have only yourself to blame. This story is simply the continuation of Starlin’s exploration of those concepts in that universe.

“I’m going to maintain the position that my views on religion are irrelevant.”

Heh… Funny. Tell me another one.

“As a quick aside, I do wonder how she was able to keep up with Quicksilver here to make her pious pitch”

Seriously? Sometimes I wonder if you’re actually paying attention when you’re reading these comics or if you’re just kidding, making some kind of dumb joke that serves no purpose and doesn’t really sound like a joke in the first place. Or you simply don’t know much about comics or sci-fi/fantasy in general. It’s a mental or spiritual projection. She’s not actually there.

“the Vision concludes that all of the brainwashed heroes share something in common – they’re “religious.””

Wrong. He concludes that some are religious or have deep spiritual beliefs, some have died and resurrected or had near-death experiences, some have an unusual strength of character, nobility, purity, etc. Again, were you actually paying attention while reading?

“So among the group of the brainwashed are some understandable choices like Captain America (which I guess only makes sense if you equate patriotism to religious spiritualism), some confusing ones like Spider-Man (do we ever establish “religion” with him?), and some outright absurd ones like Thor and Storm. Thor is based on Norse mythology and Storm was worshipped as a rain goddess prior to joining the X-Men. So what the heck does Vision mean by “religious.” Is he talking about Judeo Christian religious, or something broader?”

It’s pretty freaking obvious he doesn’t just mean “Judeo-Christian religious”. If you don’t understand that from your own list of “confusing” choices…

“he’s essentially deriding the general concept of “having faith” in something, anything, as being easily duped by a larger force.”

Again, you fail to grasp the point. Completely. The Goddess chose them because they’d be more susceptible to her BRAINWASHING in addition to their being truly good and honorable powerful heroes, not because they could be “duped”. It’s clearly explained that she’s generating a mental wave which ends up affecting the whole universe.

“It’s no surprise then that Starlin couches the more science-valuing characters in the Marvel Universe (Reed, Bruce Banner as Hulk, Tony Stark) as the “heroes.” In other words, characters who place “logic” over faith. It’s not even done in a subtle or artistic way. Starlin draws the line in the sand pretty clearly: the eggheads are the good guys and the “religious” folk are following the orders of a sociopath that is looking to destroy half of the planet for being “sinners”

Sure, Wolverine, Thing, Gambit, Strong Guy, Puck are all eggheads full of logic and science. Just like with the Goddess’ chosen ones, there are several reasons why they weren’t chosen. Some are hardcore scientists who believe in science first and foremost, some are extremely violent, some care too much about money and women, some actively turned their backs on God, some are atheists or don’t believe enough or simply don’t give a shit. Just like in real life, there’s a bit of everything.

“Like War, Crusade also struggles with the fact that Starlin can’t help but give characters he has some semblance of ownership of all of the accolades, while the rest of the superhero universe comes across as a bunch of simpletons or background players.”

He’s the writer using his own characters in his own story. What’s the big deal? Writers always tend to focus on some characters at the expense of others, particularly when so many are participating. The story doesn’t suffer much for it.

“Who needs a fun sequence with Captain America or Daredevil when Moondragon and Warlock are available?”

There are plenty of fun sequences for those who actually pay attention while reading (oops, too bad for you). It’s been years since I last read this but here are a couple based on my poor recollection: There’s Hulk teaming up with Drax in outer space to redirect the Surfer’s trajectory ending with a naked Hulk falling on a brainwashed Sasquatch knocking him out and saving someone in the process. Hulk later reappears wearing Sasquatch’s fur as a loincloth. Nomad complaining about being left behind to help monitor the situation with Forge. That’s just two and I’m practically senile, I’m sure there’s more.

“Again, similar to War, Lim’s artwork on Crusade ranges between pretty good to rushing to make a deadline. The cosmic imagery showing the Goddess among the stars or in her wish fulfillment egg are consistently good, but the larger battle sequences are occasionally problematic.”

I like Lim’s art. He’s never disappointed me.

“So unless you want to hear a then-40-year-old rail against the evils of organized religion through the voices of comic book characters, I would steer clear of this one.”

Bah… everyone, you can safely disregard what this guy is saying. He simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In the end, the themes and the basic message Starling gives through this story is this: absolute good can be just as bad as absolute evil in its narrow point of view. When single-mindedly pursuing an objective that is “good” in your mind you can cause great harm to others, the end justifies the means, etc, etc.

Who taught you reading comprehension? You should sue. :p

I wasn’t a big fan of this story. Whatever the reasons behind Goddess enthralling the heroes that she did I just didn’t like that. The Goddess herself was kind of a weak villain and everything felt like you’d been here before (because we had; twice).

Back in the 70s and 80s, I was a BIG fan of Starlins efforts.I REALLY wanted to say that his latter efforts were just as great,but it was this third infinity fiasco,followed by his the end and fourth infinity effort, that sadly made me admit, his best days were behind him.I didnt even bother to pick up his new gods effort.Both his writting and effort on his art have gotten sloppy.I could name a few pages that really were bad, either with the art or writting.His new efforts coming out had better hit a home run.in any event,his die hard fans will still follow him.I’ll page through them on the stands first, tired of being burned by him.

The problem with bringing in some of these characters is that they cannot really be “religious” in the sense that they believe in something spiritual out of faith. Thor or the Silver Surfer don’t believe in greater forces because they have “faith” – they believe because they are either part of those forces or have been touched by them/have a direct contact with them. Faith has nothing to do with it.

I basically stopped buying comics in the 90s so I missed this one.

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