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When We First Met – The Infinity Stones

In this feature we spotlight the various characters, phrases, objects or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore. Not major stuff like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!'” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.” Stuff like that. Here is an archive of all the When We First Met features so far! Check ‘em out!

The end of Thor: The Dark World has made it clear that the Infinity Gems (called the Infinity Stones in the film) are going to play a major role in the future of the Marvel cinematic universe, so I figured we should take a refresher course on the history of the infinity gems (I posted most of these last Summer, but I figured it made more sense to post it now). I already detailed the history of the mystery man we saw with the Infinity Stones in the film here.

The soul gem was first introduced in Marvel Premiere #1, when Roy Thomas and Gil Kane first gave us Warlock. The High Evolutionary just gives it to him…

The jewel is not named, though, until Warlock had his two issues of Marvel Premiere and then two more issues of his own solo title. In the third issue, now written by Mike Friedrich (taking over from Thomas), Friedrich first refers to it as a “soul-jewel”…

The next issue is the first one to refer to it as a “gem”…

When Jim Starlin took the character nearly two years later in Strange Tales #178, Starlin referred to the gem as a “soul gem”…

In Warlock #15, we discover that the soul gem is just one of many similar gems…

Oddly enough, Steve Englehart (thanks to Luis Dantas for the head’s up) had actually made the same revelation in an issue of Captain Marvel (#45) earlier that year…


I don’t know if it was a case of Starlin responding to Englehart’s introduction of the concept, Englehart hearing about Starlin’s plans (they were friendly at the time) and beating Starlin to the punch or what, but whatever the case may be, Englehart’s issue appears to be an aberration, as obviously that gem did not appear to be a soul gem.

However, when Bill Mantlo, John Byrne and Dave Hunt did an issue of Marvel Team-Up (#55) there we seemed to truly see the other soul gems…

The Gardener makes his intro…

Soon after, Starlin used the soul gems in the pages of Warlock’s classic last (initial) storyline, the two-parter in Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (with Joe Rubinstein as his co-artist). Here, from Avengers Annual #7…

Here are the Avengers destroying Thanos’ gem..

Fast forward to the return of Thanos in the early 1990s by Starlin. Here, in Thanos Quest (the prelude to the Infinity Gauntlet, with art by Ron Lim and John Beatty), Thanos goes to collect the soul gems…

After getting the Champion’s soul gem, Thanos notes that calling them ALL “soul gems” is probably inaccurate, since only the first gem really has to do with the soul. So he decided to give them a new name…

By the way, to get back to the Englehart-introduced Mind Gem, here is the Mind Gem from Thanos Quest (and every story featuring the gems since)…


So again, I think we can treat that story as an error by the people who controlled the Mind Gem in that story. They believed it to be a Mind Gem but they were mistaken.

In any event, the gems have been the infinity gems ever since. Most notably in the Infinity Gauntlet…

But now as the Infinity Stones in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


I need to turn “Holy cow! I’m on the moon!!” into a reaction gif…

Ah Thanos Quest. Happy days.


Also, I see you didn’t mention the seventh gem from that Marvel/Ultraverse crossover. That’s probably for the best.

John Byrne’s work on Marvel Team-Up was just fantastic. He drew what to me are the definitive versions of so many characters.

I’m hoping the Avengers/Two-in-One Annual crossover will appear on the Best Storyline list. That’s some great comics right there.

I’d forgotten a lot of that history, even though i read it.
Thanos Quest wasn’t quite as horrible as Infinity Gauntlet and its progeny, though it does show Starlin’s “Oooh, isn’t my character smarter than everyone else” tendency (which has been commented on in some of Brian’s other comics).
Not that he’s unique in that. James Robinson had an equally annoying habit of showing how the Mist’s daughter was ever so much smarter than the mundane heroes of the DC Universe.

The Soul Gem should give its wielder a soul patch.

That is all.

Not the first time they were referred to as the Infinity Stones–they actually first referred to them as stones in, of all things, “The Super Hero Squad Show”.

Mainline old school Cosmic Marvel into my veins!

We actually met the Mind Gem initially in one issue of Captain Marvel #45, cover date July 1976.

Although it was only identifiable as such by an explicit statement; the appearance is completely different and a character makes a point of saying that while all six gems have different powers, all six are “equally effective on the mind”.

I’m actually glad I already own most of these comics in the singles form. They’re stupid expensive now. Thanks, Avengers movies!

Rubinstein is an excellent inker. It is clearly visible from his work over Starlin’s layouts/pencils in the annual. Marvel NEEDS to give him more work. What about the 100-page project that Starlin referred to earlier? Rubinstein is the Man!

Thanks for the recap. It’s often forgotten that the Thanos who fought the Avengers/Warlock, as powerful as he was, was still far weaker than the Thanos who came back to life in “The Silver Surfer”. I suspect that part of the reason for that was so that he would actually be a match for the Surfer, though the result was to make him much more than a match. Starlin seems to have a thing for his heroes being much less formidable than his villians.

nice history lesson of the infinity gems forgot that warlock got the first one and thanos when he first fought the avengers was not really as powerful as he is


You really need to add in the Englehart penned issues of Silver Surfer before Starlin took over. The gems and their influences are the primary focus of issues 1-18 of Vol 3 including the Surfer fighting the Elders of the Universe all w/their own gems and the Elders attempting to destroy Galactus and cause the end of the universe using the power of the gems together. Just saying…

Did anyone ever get around to explaining how the High Evolutionary got a hold of the Soul Gem to begin with? I’ve been wondering that ever since Thomas’ Warlock-As-Jesus and Starlin’s Warlock-As-Elric days.

The High Evolutionary has spent a lot of time facilitating things in the Marvel Universe. I’m pretty sure he’s tied in with the origins of 50% of the characters.

Wasn’t the seventh Infinity Gem Ego? I read about it once and mentioned it in a comment on an article. I was told that the seventh gem wasn’t canon and wasn’t recognized. Any truth to this? The Thanos Quest and the original Infinity Gauntlet were such great stories that have never been duplicated.

[…] Apple may not get comics, but Slate magazine does, and boy its nice to see comics in publications like that one. Its also nice to see them free, online, like this from Gibbons and “Head Lopper” Maclean, or Kevin Huizenga. Sometimes you can even find a little comics history mixed in there, or Need To Know history for those of you that remember this strip’s precursor from last year! Of course, if history’s your bag, you need to check out this 8-part prehistory of the superhero over at The Hooded Utilitarian, or learn when we first encountered the Infinity Stones. […]

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