GUARDING THE GALAXY: EXPLORING THE MARVEL COSMIC UNIVERSE
Part Twenty-Two: The End
The Marvel Universe is under attack by a rival dimension called the Cancerverse. The Cancerverse is a universe where death does not exist, and life has won. A dark version of Captain Mar-Vell, called Lord Mar-Vell, had brought about the end of death in this universe, and now he leads the twisted versions of the Avengers into the Marvel universe in a quest to kill the avatar of Death.
The avatar of Death is the recently reborn Thanos, who agreed to work with the Guardians of the Galaxy to defeat Lord Mar-Vell, and return death to the Cancerverse. Unfortunately, Drax could not put his personal vendetta against Thanos aside, and he succeeded in killing him yet again, leaving the Guardians without a way to save their universe.
This is it, the end of my months-long exploration of the Marvel Cosmic universe. Some will live, some will die, and a universe will fall.
The Thanos Imperative #4. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Artist: Miguel Sepulveda; Editor: Bill Rosemann
Lord Mar-Vell interrogates Namorita about her anomalous nature, and the location of the avatar of Death. Nova and his strike team of Quasar, Silver Surfer, Gladiator, Beta Ray Bill and Ronan interrupt the proceedings, and face off against the dark versions of many familiar heroes.
Nova and Silver Surfer take turns battling Lord Mar-Vell, but he is too powerful for them.
Quasar is able to free Namorita, but Nova is on the verge of death at the hands of Mar-Vell.
In the Cancerverse, Star-Lord is letting Drax have it for once again killing Thanos at a critical moment when they needed him. It quickly becomes evident that they may have been a little bit premature, as Thanos’ body begins to reconstitute itself.
Whether he is immune to death, or Death herself has rejected him, he doesn’t appear capable of being killed.
Drax moves in for another try, but this time, he’s the one atomized by Thanos. (A moment of silence for Drax. His miniseries began the storyline that became Annihilation, which made all this possible. Without that, I have one less anthropomorphic raccoon in my life.)
On Mar-Vell’s ship, the sudden death and return of Thanos sends up a virtual beacon straight to Mar-Vell. He drops Nova and immediately translocates himself and his Revengers to that location.
Nova, with a temporary reprieve, moves to regroup and follow them, joined by the rest of the freed prisoners, but Mar-Vell returns just long enough to leave a surprise for them, detonating his ship and everyone inside.
In the Cancerverse, the Guardians argue about Thanos killing Drax, when they register an incoming incursion of hostile forces. And the Vision is ripped apart by an attack from above, as the Revengers arrive.
My brain thoughts: Did you really think Thanos was dead? It’s called THE THANOS IMPERATIVE.
The Thanos Imperative #5. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Artist: Miguel Sepulveda; Editor: Bill Rosemann
Star-Lord and the Guardians fight off the attack of the Revengers. Dark Scarlet Witch runs to the side of the Vision, her husband, as he lay dying. She lets loose with an attack against her own teammates, sending them away with her powers. The Vision confirms to the others that dark Scarlet Witch has been secretly working with the resistance from the beginning.
Thanos asks her if she can transport them to the site of the Necropsy. She can, and she does, while remaining behind with her husband, sure to meet her fate at the hands of the Revengers when they return.
Back near Mar-Vell’s obliterated starship, Quasar was able to (literally) shield himself and the rest using his powers. They all return to the fault, where the battle is still going horribly against the Galactus Engine.
Major Victory reveals to the allied forces that Thanos is alive and he may be the key to victory for them, and that Star-Lord and the rest have already taken him inside the Cancerverse.
Medusa and Blastaar consider Star-Lord a loose cannon, and feel they should concentrate their efforts against the Galactus Engine. Nova disagrees, and leaves to join Star-Lord.
Thanos and the Guardians arrive at the site of the Necropsy rite. Thanos begins to determine how to reverse-engineer the magic of the Necropsy and return Death to the Cancerverse. But before he can even begin, Lord Mar-Vell and the Revengers arrive. Forever mortal enemies, they leap into battle against each other.
Nova, Namorita, and Major Victory have traveled to Knowhere, to access the continuum cortex, and join Star-Lord inside the Cancerverse. Nova finds a message left behind for him by Star-Lord, letting him know everything about the return of Thanos, his plan, and how to lock on to his passport transponder to join him, if he chooses. Just “like old times.”
Major Victory volunteers to operate the cortex for Nova, but Namorita wants to go with him. He convinces her to stay, by suggesting that they don’t know what entering the fault might do to her (apparently she was recreated in the fault when it appeared). Nova prepares to leave, and Major Victory activates the cortex, sending him off.
At the Necropsy site, Thanos faces off against his mortal enemy Mar-Vell, and the Guardians battle the Revengers. Thanos gets the edge on Mar-Vell, but it turns out he only wanted him in close so he could beg him to give him the death he craves so badly. Thanos releases Mar-Vell and kneels before him, declaring loyalty to him in exchange for his own death.
My brain thoughts: One of the big problems of going into battle relying on someone that wants to die, is that they want to die. Bad strategery.
The Thanos Imperative #6. Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning; Artist: Miguel Sepulveda; Editor: Bill Rosemann
Mar-Vell accepts Thanos’ offer, and “many angled ones” rise up out of the ground to ensnare the Mad Titan, as well as the Guardians.
Mar-Vell prepares to perform the ritual of the Necropsy.
At the fault, Galactus and the allied forces continue to fight against the Cancerverse invasion. Namorita, Major Victory, and Worldmind worry about the fate of Nova, who has been uncontactable for too long.
Back in the Cancerverse, Nova finally arrives to free the Guardians from their tentacled shackles. He rips through the Revengers, trying to save Thanos. But dying was all part of Thanos’ plan. By trying to kill Thanos, Mar-Vell has literally brought Death right to them both.
Death arrives, and finally gives Mar-Vell the fate he cheated his way out of so long ago.
Energy radiates out in all directions, obliterating the Revengers in its path.
At the fault, the Galactus Engine succumbs to the energy, as the fault collapses in on itself.
Thanos pleads with Death, to remain at her side. She turns away from him. He screams at her, asking her how many universe he has to kill to please her. Star-Lord sees things going bad, and tells the team to activate their passports out of there. They do, but Nova and Star-Lord stay behind, intending to make a sacrifice play to keep Thanos in that universe as it dies, so he will die with it.
The Guardians arrive in the cortex, and Rocket demands that Major Victory send him back in. But the collapse of the fault has shut down the cortex, they can’t go back. (I am a major league sucker for sacrifice plays. The best scene out of the entire Timm-verse of DC animation, is in Justice League when Batman tricks the Flash and Martian Manhunter into the escape pod of the Satellite, right before he prepares to pilot it into the Thanagarian shield generator. “Gentlemen, it’s been an honor…”)
Death has disappeared, leaving Nova and Star-Lord about sixty seconds to distract Thanos before the universe collapses, with all of them in it.
Star-Lord pulls out his Cosmic Cube, which has just a little bit of juice left. Nova and Star-Lord prepare to face an enraged Thanos.
Nova turns to Star-Lord, “I remember you said to me once, you said…if death ever comes your way and won’t let you pass…make sure you scream right back in his face.”
Star-Lord: “Rich, you really shouldn’t trust anything I say. Most of the time, I just make stuff up.”
Nova: “I know, let’s scream in his face anyway.”
Three days later, Medusa gives a speech at a ceremony for everyone that they’ve lost. Behind her is a memorial statue of her husband, Black Bolt. The fault has collapsed and sealed; the Cancerverse has (presumably) been annihilated.
Rocket Raccoon and Quasar walk the memorial site. After the fault collapsed, the Nova power disappeared from the Corps, and Worldmind went into a kind of shutdown.
Quasar and Rocket continue on their path, commenting that even if they are still alive, Star-Lord and Nova are stuck in a collapsed universe that can never be reopened, along with Thanos. They succeeded in keeping Thanos out of their universe.
Rocket and Quasar arrive at the memorial statue for Star-Lord and Nova, with Rocket commenting, “Damn it, Pete. Why’d you guys have to be such heroes?”
The inscription reads:
Peter Jason Quill
Guardians of the Galaxy
My brain thoughts: And so you have it. Drax, Phyla, Adam Warlock, Thanos, Star-Lord, and Nova represent the fallen. The Guardians of the Galaxy are no more. It’s the end of an era, and a pretty fantastic one at that.
There was a closing chapter to the mini-series titled Devastation, but it mostly serves to show Cosmo recruiting Ronan, Silver Surfer, Quasar, Beta Ray Bill, and Gladiator to join the Annihilators, on the last wishes of Star-Lord. (I briefly covered the Annihilators up against the Dire Wraiths, back in my wrap-up to ROM. It’s a decent enough little mini-series, but this is a much more natural closer to my look at the spacefaring heroes of the Marvel universe.)
My final brain thoughts: Treachery, betrayal, death, life, and the end of an epic storyline.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my look back at the revitalized Marvel cosmic universe. I write these things to try and spread just a little bit of my joy and love for these characters you might not know about, and hopefully, I was able to do that. If I can’t convince you to spend the large sums of money needed to buy the books yourselves (but I hope you do anyway), I can at least have a conversation with you about all the endlessly entertaining things that happen in the books.
Star-Lord, Nova, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Gamora, Mantis, Cosmo, Drax, Adam Warlock, Thanos, Annihilus, and the list goes on and on. I hope you love them as much as I do now. I hope you felt the pain of their deaths like I did.
Fortunately, by the time you read this, the new Guardians of the Galaxy series by Brian Michael Bendis and Steve McNiven will have been running for some time (it hasn’t started yet as I write this). If you haven’t been buying it, well start! I don’t want it getting cancelled again!
It’s been an absolute joy reading these comics again. Like I said before, I hope I helped make some new fans of the characters out there, and hopefully some of you will go buy the books to read for yourselves. If not, thanks for sticking with me, and I’ll see you next time.
Now I’m going to go sleep for six months.