Can you contract Cosmic Saga fatigue? It certainly seemed that way in the 1990s when Marvel stripmined Warlock and the idea of the infinity stones, sinking them in mediocrity, but Annihilation restored the reputation of the cosmic event, and over Guardians of the Galaxy and Infinity Countdown Gerry Duggan proved there’s a validity in one more go-round. He set plenty of plates spinning, although Loki’s part was eventually small. That changes here as the Trickster-God ponders why it is that the universe has changed, and Thanos finally arrives during the opening chapter.

Differing this from previous Infinity outings is the involvement of lower level villains from Earth near the start and the meetings of characters whose paths don’t normally cross. Gamora and Loki are one example. Inevitably the infinity stones do all fall under the control of one person, and they use it to remake the universe. Most of the results play out in Infinity Warps, but the short version is that the population of the universe is halved, but by combining people, so Doctor Strange and Captain America are one being, Soldier Supreme.

The art for the seven main chapters is in the safe hands of Mike Deodato Jr. Given his preference for a form of ultra-reality he might not come across as the first choice for space adventure, but he nails the other-worldliness where needed and part of the reason is that it’s mixed into such a real world. There’s an ages-old demon in play, something gross and spidery and tentacled inspired by Lovecraft, and Deodato drawing its intrusions into a more recognisable world is astounding stuff. The contribution of colourist Frank Martin is also easy on the eyes. Each individual stone is associated with a specific colour, and Martin uses this to inform his shades.

With infinity to play with, Duggan does establish some rules, a primary one being the infinity stones only work in the universe from which they originate. That’s important as multiple realities are at stake. Also on the agenda is an unlikely saviour well before the end, and another thrill box ticked is a clever solution to everything that doesn’t just involve jumping back in time. These events always have to be marked by a death, but for once it’s a demise that makes some kind of sense, as it’s almost a happy ending. Under other circumstances you’d have to be really up to date on the character’s history to take the most from that, but it’s well-devised and Duggan provides an epilogue spotlight fleshing out earlier details and providing explanations.

Andy MacDonald draws that, more stylised than Deodato, but still broadly realistic and providing all the emotional resonance needed, and the safe and experienced hands of Mark Bagley draw the final chapter. It’s a second epilogue, building on Warlock’s clever solution toward the end of the main story and creating a new super-powered character with infinite possibilities. Duggan then also used Infinity Wars as a stepping stone to the restoration of Wolverine to the Marvel universe in Wolverine: Infinity Watch.

At the end of the day you want a superhero epic to thrill, be original and offer some fun along the way, and Infinity Wars manages that from start to finish. If you prefer your epics between the single pair of covers, it’s combined with Infinity Countdown as Infinity Wars: The Complete Collection.