For those unfamiliar with Marvel Comics’ Infinity Gauntlet, it is a glove which houses six dimension-shifting Infinity gems, each of which gives explicit dominion over time, space, soul, mind, reality, and power. Separately, these gems would make even Howard the Duck a formidable match… so you can only imagine what kind of stat-boost awaits the wielder of all six gems. In the second half of 1991, comic writer Jim Starlin – with the artistic talents of legendary pencillers George Perez and Ron Lim – showed me and other comic readers at the time that some people – especially those named Thanos –shouldn’t have so much power.
A Mad Titan who takes the ‘women love power’ approach to trying to impress Mistress Death, Marvel’s representative of the ruler of the underworld, Thanos took to essentially destroying the Marvel Universe – heroes, villains, celestials, everything – with as little effort as a snap of his Gauntlet-covered fingers. Eventually things would work out and order would be restored amidst all this tragic chaos, but the point I’m trying to stress is that there’s a reason why his victory declaration in coin-op scrap-fest Marvel Super Heroes was ‘Thanos reigns!!’ Fans of the hit kid-friendly animated Marvel mash-up Super Hero Squad series are more than well aware of how friendly, fun, and family-oriented these versions of our classic crusaders have become during the show’s run. To put this show’s characterizations in perspective, look at Wolverine. Have you ever seen a cuter and cuddly Canucklehead anywhere else? I’ve honestly seen him smile more times in one ten-minute episode spot than I have in over 10 years of reading Wolverine comics. The thing is, they’re able to do it in a way that still keeps the essence of the character alive. And if Super Hero Squad is able to de-fang some of the most brutal characters in all of comic lore, you can only imagine what they have waiting in the wings with their latest game premise.
The sequel to THQ’s mighty Marvel mash-up tackles what is perhaps one of the darkest storylines in all of Marvel continuity. But with characters that look so cute you can only imagine that they’ll have their own way of exploring Thanos’ quest for the multi-gemmed hand dead-set on rocking the mini-Marvel universe. Fans of the cartoon series – and parents who would rather not expose their young’uns to the definitely-not-for-little-kids storyline of the 1991 comic series – will be ecstatic to know that the game will flawlessly draw from both the spirit of the show, and its recent season 2 storyline. Many of the show’s vocal talents will reprise their roles to further help enforce the overall atmosphere, and the series’ definitive art style is sure to capture the overall essence of the show.
Speaking with a THQ representative at the recent New York Comic Con event, this game was truly crafted with the idea that for many youngsters, this will be their first ever game based on Marvel’s iconic cast of characters. With such gameplay mechanics as ‘factor powers,’ or each hero’s unique abilities that factor into the game one way or another, those who are being introduced to characters such as Iron Man or the Hulk for the first time will come to understand – as I have observed through a hands-on demonstration – that if a situation calls for a information technology expert to hack into a particular computer system, your best bet is not to rely on the Hulk. Initiating the ‘hacking’ mini-game with the Green Goliath was something that wasn’t going to happen, and the game reminds us of this by prompting the Hulk to summon – in his own special way – ‘Metal Man’ to come assist him.With that just being one example, there’s no telling what kinds of experiences would ensue from the different possible character combinations you’d be able to make in the game.
To reference the ’91 storyline again, Thanos: The Infinity Gauntlet had a plot that affected most, if not all, of the Marvel universe. Of all the things that were left out of the game in reference to the comics, the one thing that definitely stayed on-board was its robust character list. Kid-friendly or not, this is a storyline that is poised to impact the entire Super Hero Squad universe, so gamers can expect to see a very dynamic cast of heroes. Mighty Marvel mainstays such as Wolverine, Hulk, and Captain America won’t be as much of a surprise to see in this game as Nova, a character who (unless I’m mistaken) will be making his first ever video game appearance:
As of the time of this article, I have no idea who the other new characters are, or what their ‘factor powers’ will be. All the more reason to check out the game when it arrives this fall. When it comes to strengthening bonds, ending differences, and uniting forces that would be otherwiseincompatible, there’s nothing like a global crisis. A villain whose aliases include ‘The Mad Titan’ and the ‘Avatar of Death’ – and his desire to obtain the kind of mystic energies that would spell the end of the world as we know it – would definitely meet the necessary qualifications. But to take that timeless comic story and revamp it to fit the addictive ambiance that can only come from Marvel Super Hero Squad is the kind of global crisis that will have families and fanboys alike eagerly playing through a storyline that features the best and brightest of what Marvel Comics has to offer. The original spin on such an infamous plot dynamic, the accessible character designs that carry with them Marvel’s trademark style, and dialogue that features menacing adversaries at their cutest is a combination that will definitely have first-time gamers saying ‘make mine Marvel!’ for years to come.
Written by: Jamaal Linnen
Don’t Just Be Fit, Be Gamer Fit