With "Infinity Gauntlet" #3, Dustin Weaver and Gerry Duggan begin to pull all the pieces together in the most accessible issue of the series. Where the first issue was about introducing brave new protagonists and a menacing earth and the second issue showed what those new characters could do as a united front, this issue sees that dynamic forcibly altered by Thanos' use of the Time Gem. It's an entertaining installment featuring strong visual work from Weaver as well as a balanced script of family adventure and dire circumstances by Duggan.
As Thanos reintegrates himself into the dynamic introduced in the first two issues, Duggan and Weaver push the plot forward, thereby focusing the action and creating a strong narrative. While the first two issues were entertaining, much heavy lifting had to be done to get readers acclimated to the whos, wheres and whys of the reality. Now that the groundwork is laid, the storytellers bounce the various characters off of one another in a much more satisfying way. Everyone is aware of one another, and the gems -- the centerpiece of the tale -- represent different motivations for all involved. The Novas see them as a powerful salvation for the Earth, an opportunity to push the Annihilation Wave off planet once and for all. Gamora and Star-Lord see them as a chance to get rich quick. These versions of the characters are plunderers through and through, closer to who Peter Quill is at the start of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" film. This was a simple treasure hunt for the space faring characters, but now they find themselves embroiled in a scenario that is bigger than they realize. For Thanos, the only character with full knowledge of the gauntlet, they represent godhood, pure and simple.
All throughout, Duggan's characterization shines: the Novas play off of one another like a real family; Thanos's grandeur and manipulation are all on full display for readers, sewing seeds of discord that will surely grow in the next few issues; and the dynamic between Quill and Gamora is fun and antagonistic. There's another old friend that pops up in one of the most fun exchanges in the book, as Duggan and Weaver get to give readers an entertaining origin for that character's famous phrase.
Weaver continues to turn in his typical breathtaking layout and design work. While the plot requires a lot of high panel count pages, Weaver guides the reader's eye effortlessly through the story, optimizing the page through a strong use of negative space and color work. The artist pulls a lot of weight between story and art with this series, and it's impressive that nothing has yet strained under the workload. His characters and facial work are especially strong in the down moments, as the characters allow the weight of the situation really settle on their shoulders. The lust in Thanos' face any time he contemplates the power of the Infinity Gems is palpable and Anwen's conflicted emotions really heighten the story.
What has not yet been revealed is if this Thanos is the same one that arrived in the Timeraft during "Secret Wars." If so, the character may be looking to assemble the Gauntlet to re-wish the Marvel Universe back into existence as readers knew it. The implications then become much more interesting, as his quest becomes a double-edged sword. It's clear Doomworld is not sustainable, but what Thanos would put in its place would surely not be better.
Taken in chapters, "Infinity Gauntlet" #3 is a table-setting issue that will feed into the greater story to come. Fans may be disappointed by the lack of action, but it feels like the reward will be emotional investment in the final outcome down the line.