There have been a lot of interesting trials, tribulations, rituals, and revelations happening at Disney’s fifth D23 Expo in Anaheim this week. Like this thing;

(Louis D’Esposito is Co-President at Marvel Studios, with a name chiefly recognizable from Executive Producing basically every Marvel Studios film since 2008. Not that you’d have any reason to doubt your eyes here, but I should make it clear he’s not just some lucky fan with a camera that happened to get retweeted by the Marvel Studios Twitter.)

During the AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR presentation, Marvel Studios revealed high-quality statues of characters that have thus been called “The Children of Thanos”, but longtime comic book fans recognize them as Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw, and Black Dwarf members of Thanos’ Black Order. Truth be told, they don’t even need to be longtime fans. All of the characters debuted in 2013, with the exception of gym daddy Thanos over there (don’t think I didn’t notice that outfit) who’s been around since 1973.

From INFINITY #1, 2013. Art by Cheung, Morales, and Ponsor.

From INFINITY #1, 2013. Art by Cheung, Morales, and Ponsor.

Oh yeah, there’s also a member called Supergiant, but I guess they (very easily) just forgot about her. Some people seem excited that the Black Order will be featured in the film. In case my somewhat incredulous tone was an indicator, I am not one of them. I don’t have any fondness for these characters. Mostly because there’s nothing particular memorable about them. I mean, they look cool, and they have cool names, sure. What’s their deal? As you might expect for a follower of Thanos, they’re nihilistic suicidal edgelords. Are they still around in the comics? One of them is. Have they done anything of real significance since their debut story? Nope. Surely, then, they must have done something of real significance in their debut story? Ehhh…

Still interested in learning more about them? Are you sure?

You asked for it. I’m going to explain everything. It’s 2013 and Jonathan Hickman starts new volumes of AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS with an impossibly complex interwoven storyline that featured the largest active roster of Avengers ever (between 15 and 20 members) fighting an exhausting list of new cosmic antagonists named the Builders, Alephs, Gardeners, Caretakers, Curators, Ivory Kings, Mapmakers, Sidera Maris, Black Priests, and Black Swans. Now, your immediate reaction might be “what the ever-loving fuck did I just read, I’ve never heard of any of those things”. That’s okay. Even for fans like me who had been reading Avengers for at least a decade, it was difficult to grasp month-to-month. Fortunately, half of those new concepts came to a conclusion in INFINITY.
Main covers by Adam Kubert, Black Order variants by In-Hyuk LeeINFINITY was Marvel’s crossover event book for 2013. Well, one of them, anyway. In case this didn’t already sound needlessly complicated, two other events were happening simultaneously; AGE OF ULTRON (forgettable, in an alternate reality, only significant for having its name stolen by the movies) and BATTLE OF THE ATOM (yet another X-Men crossover involving mutant infighting and time travel).

In the event, Thanos and the Black Order are introduced as having been culling all the 16 to 22 year old members of different species across the universe. Why? Turns out the Mad Titan went on a bender a few years back, sticking his big purple eggplant everywhere he went. Now, he’s worried he knocked up some broad and there’s a halfling kid out there that might be strong enough to kill him. Probably because his last kid could destroy the entire universe. Thus, the Black Order travel to Earth for a few reasons, the first being The Infinity Gems were last collected and used there, and the second being the planet is defenseless without Avengers, who are currently liberating scores of alien worlds from the Builders. There’s other junk that makes Earth vulnerable, too: like the Phoenix Force almost killing everybody last week, the Inhumans foreclosingSpider-Man being an evil dick, and worlds literally colliding.

(The Marvel Database is a godsend for anybody trying to figure out anything happening right now.)

So the Black Order roll up on Earth and systematically shitstomp the other heroes. Because nothing says “let’s make these new bad guys tough” like the Worf Effect. Or Wolverine Effect, since this isn’t Star Trek and he’s far more likely to get stabbed. (Why couldn’t it have been Gambit?)


Black Dwarf, the poor bastard, ends up having to fight Black Panther. He loses of course, because nobody fucks with Wakanda under T’Challa’s watch. It turns out that Thanos’ kid, Thaneis actually on Earth somewhere as a newly Terrigenesis-awakened Inhuman. Eventually, the Avengers win all of that spacewar nonsense, come back to Earth with their Shi’ar, Kree, and Skrull allies, save Thane, and give Thanos and co. a long overdue beatdown. Thane uses his powers to put his dad in a big block of amber, which the Illuminati then put in their super-secret basement for a year or two until he inevitably breaks out. The End! To be continued in SECRET WARS.

So there you go. The Black Order’s only day in the sun. They conquer Earth for about ten minutes, and when they lose, Black Dwarf and Supergiant die, Ebony Maw cheeses it and takes Thane on a road trip, and Corvus Glaive and Proxima Midnight are trapped in a big box. Not exactly Villainy Hall of Fame there. They eventually break out and form a new group called The Cabal alongside Thanos, Terrax, Black Swan, and Namor that end up blowing up a few planets. Ultimately, Corvus and Proxima were both killed off this year, biting off more than they could chew. They all did.

Maybe now, you’re seeing what I’m seeing. These “Children of Thanos” in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR are a bunch of cannon-fodder to punch around the Avengers until they get punched out and Thanos fights alone. Maybe that’s all they really need to do, and that’s just fine. This does bear the question of what other things the film may borrow from 2013’s INFINITY, but I’m waiting for an actual view of the trailer before saying any more. Until then, congrats on the forthcoming royalty checks, Mr. Hickman. You earned it.

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TV's Casey Stroz

Casey Stroz is your ever-growing compendium of knowledge in the world of comic books and maybe other things.
TV's Casey Stroz
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