A six-issue limited series by Marvel Comics, published in 1991, written by Jim Starlin, pencilled by George Pérez and inked by Ron Lim.Thanos, the mad Titan, collected the Infinity Gems before the story started. The gems are cosmic MacGuffins that each granting their wielder great power over an aspect of the universe. There are six gems: Time, Space, Mind, Soul, Power and Reality. When Thanos puts them all on his glove, they form the Infinity Gauntlet, granting him poweroverbasically everything. Thanos had long been in love with the incarnation of Death and this miniseries is about him trying to use his ultimate power to woo her. He starts by killing half the population of the universe in a second. The heroes of Earth (and, eventually, basically everywhere else) come for him, led by Captain America and Adam Warlock. In the ensuing battle, he turns off most of the gems just to prove that he can still do a lot of damage with just one.In the end, the good guys win and manage to fix the damage Thanos did, but this 1991 miniseries spawned an ongoing series, two more miniseries that make up a trilogy with this, and cemented the reputation of everyone who worked on it. It was also adapted into two video games by Capcom — an arcade fighting game which serves as a prologue of sorts to the Capcom vs. Whatever series, and a more traditional platformer with some fighting elements on the SNES. Descriptions of the sequels follow:
The sequel of the Infinity Gauntlet saga. During Adam Warlock's brief period of power, he subconsciously expelled both good and evil from himself to be ruled by logic alone. His evil side becomes a new incarnation of Warlock's evil persona, the Magus, who creates evil doppelgangers of Earth's superheroes and, like Thanos before him, tries to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet. While the Infinity Gauntlet began with Thanos assembling the gauntlet and was all about how he used it, this series is about the Magus's quest to assemble it.
Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade provide examples of:
Abstract Apotheosis: Thanos was defeated when he abandoned his body and became/replaced Eternity at the head of the Cosmic Beings... and failed to realize that the Gauntlet itself, which sustained his new existence, was still on his lifeless body's hand and within easy reach of vengeful relatives.
Achilles' Heel: Gauntlet established that Thanos's weakness is chronic self-defeatism.
Amplifier Artifact: The Reality Gem is almost useless on its own, because it is almost impossible to control by a mortal mind. However, if someone possesses both it and another gem it greatly amplifies their power, and the Mind Gem and possibly others make it easier to use.
Badass Finger Snap: Thanos, at the very peak of his godlike powers, kills off half the Universe's population in Gauntlet by snapping his finger. In some of the supplement comics, snapping his fingers is the most common way that he uses the Infinity Gauntlet also.
Batman Gambit: The mother of all Gambits happens in the first series, where Adam Warlock manipulates most of earths most powerful heroes, a whole host of universal entities, and sacrifices nearly all of them just to get Thanos to raise his hand at a specific moment. It doesn't work, forcing Warlock to employ a second gambit against the Gauntlet's new owner, Nebula.
Beyond the Impossible: Thanos' battle with the heroes of Earth is one of the few times Captain America's shield has been broken, something normally impossible. The ending sets it right again.
Breakout Character: Out of all of the evil hero clones created during Infinity War, Spider-Man's Doppelganger went on to become part of Carnage's gang. He's still around as of 2012.
Call to Agriculture: The ending of Gauntlet does this for of all people, Thanos. It eventually comes to an end, but not before several instances where he was called back into action briefly, then followed by a Return To Agriculture.
Chromatic Arrangement: Power is red, Time is orange, Reality is Yellow, Soul is Green, Mind is Blue and Space is purple.
Covers Always Spoil: A large plot point of Infinity War is that the heroes fighting the Magus have no idea what his end goal actually is. Both the heroes and the reader are meant to be surprised by the revelation. But if you glance at the back cover of the trade paperback, you'll find out instantly.
Deal with the Devil: Thanos makes one with Mephisto in order to stop the goddess in Crusade. But see the spoiler below.
The Magus' Batman Gambit in Infinity War involves the manipulation of some of the Marvel Universe's most powerful cosmic beings, from Galactus up to Eternity and even the Living Tribunal. The Magus himself is outmaneuvered by Adam Warlock and Thanos.
Thanos scams Mephisto at the end of Infinity Crusade. "You wanted a cosmic cube but didn't specify it had to be functioning..." This leads to a Badass Boast from Thanos: "Even devils must be careful when making a deal with Thanos of Titan."
Distaff Counterpart: Believe it or not, Thanos uses the Infinity Gauntlet to create an Amazonian Beauty female version of himself in the form of Terraxia the Terrible in an attempt to replace Death as his consort. She apparently has all of his (non-Infinity Gauntlet) powers as well, in that she is easily able to slay Iron Man and Spider-Man.
Dismantled MacGuffin: The Gauntlet. Complicating matters is the fact that the Gems want to be together, and possessing two or three makes the others much easier to find.
On a lesser scale, this is when Wolverine and the Hulk pretty much bury the hatchet after a number of messy run-ins.
Earth's heroes with Thanos at the end of Gauntlet, War, and Crusade.
Enemy Without: Magus in War and goddess in Crusade (the latter being a rare example of a good-aligned version of the trope).
Evil Knockoff: The many doppelgangers of Earth's heroes created by Magus in War. Some of them even managed to defeat their good counterparts.
Gambit Pileup: The plot of Infinity War. The Magus' plan to get the Gauntlet sets off alarm bells everywhere. The heroes of Earth and various cosmic entities have their own diverging opinions about how the gems should be used or protected. Doom and Kang form a temporary alliance to beat him to it. It eventually turns out that the Magus' plan is ridiculously complicated, depending on all the above Unwitting Pawns. And yet it would have worked if the Warlock and Thanos hadn't anticipated it and kept one Gem hidden. The middle of Infinity Gauntlet also reaches this point.
A God Am I: Controlling all of the Infinity Gems grants the wielder omnipotence. In fact, Infinity Gauntlet begins with Mephisto explaining to Thanos just how this trope applies to him.
Godzilla Threshold: The heroes cross it in War when they decide the only way to stop the Magus is to break out the Gauntlet again. This was the Magus's plan all along; force them to cross the threshold, then steal the Gauntlet from them.
In the original mini, Adam Warlock's recruiting drive includes Galactus... and he's at the low end of the recruits, which grow to include Lord Chaos and Master Order, the embodiments of Love and Hate, a couple Celestials, the Watcher, the Living Tribunal, and Eternity. The latter is the personification of the universe itself.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Thanos gets so much power with the Gauntlet that he takes Eternity's place as the incarnation of the universe, but that also means his physical body becomes an empty husk that can be easily separated from the Gauntlet.
Knight Templar: Goddess, who is more than willing to destroy all of existence so that she can remake it without evil.
Let's You and Him Fight: Much of the action in Crusade was hero-on-hero. In part because, thanks to mind control, many of the world's villains have surrendered to heroes and are awaiting trial peacefully.
Light Is Not Good: Despite being decked out in light and wanting to eliminate all evil in existence, the Goddess? Yep. Definitely not good.
Red Skies Crossover: During The Infinity War, some Marvel series included brief appearances of the heroes' doppelgangers, but nothing else related to the main plot.
Reset Button: Worked into the plot as the result of Nebula taking the Gauntlet for herself. The resurrection of all those killed was just a side bonus.
Set Bonus: The Gauntlet works better when all its gems are present. Justified, as it's mentioned that the Power Gem especially takes the abilities of the others and backs them with its infinite power.
This is revealed to be inverted by Infinity War, as a result of the Living Tribunal's declaration in the first issue of Warlock and the Infinity Watch right after the first miniseries: possession of all six gems by a single individual renders all of them inert.
Status Quo Is God: At the end of Infinity Gauntlet, all damage is undone. Even the living beings who were wiped out return. Also done with similar Hand Waves in the other two parts.
Token Evil Teammate: Adam Warlock is forced to disperse the six Infinity Gems amongst a team to safeguard each one. He chooses one for himself, four for his friends... and he hands off the Reality Gem to Thanos, although this isn't revealed until Crusade.
Throw-Away Country: During the events of Infinity Gauntlet, the entire island of Japan sinks to the ocean. Of course, like most of the disasters during the story, it got a Reset Button at the end. It also seems that the US was supposed to follow in its path, as parts of the West Coast started sinking as well.
Just before seeking out the Infinity Gems, Thanos gives orders to the captain of the Sanctuary to spread word of his return to every criminal, cultist, and space pirate in the galaxy. After acquiring the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos returns and is pleased to find that the captain has recruited and assembled a huge space armada that could take on most powers in the galaxy. Thanos states that the fleet will make a good royal guard now that he is a god. After this issue, neither the fleet nor the Sanctuary are mentioned again. Thanos didn't make use of them during his reign as supreme being, and didn't use them for any other purpose in any issue after the Infinity Gauntlet.
In Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos sends Firelord and Drax through time, shrinks and presumably squashes the Hulk, and turns Thor into glass, then shatters him. All of these characters pop up toward the end, summoned by Dr. Strange as the characters wrestle for the gauntlet. One would have to read some of the crossover issues to learn how Strange located those heroes.