Or – “Totally Cosmic, Maan! The Squirrel Had A GUN, Man… And This Car? It Runs On WATER, Maaan!”
Things have been heating up in Marvel’s Cosmic Theatre of war, and everyone from Rocket Raccoon to the Silver Surfer is concerned, as a lost hero returns from the dead, but only a big purple villain can stop him. Everything’s topsy turvy, wackadoodle, on it’s head, DOGS AND RACCOONS, SAVING THE UNIVERSE! MASS HYSTERIA!
Previously, in The Thanos Imperative: A long time ago, a mad Titan named Thanos made things very unpleasant for everyone. Like a bad penny, he kept popping up and nothing could stop him. Death, disintigration, petrification, the big purple putz just kept on going. Not that very long ago, though, another man, a Destroyer, successfully stabbed him to death… for a while. Recent events involving Adam Warlock have led to an alternate future reality being tethered to our own, causing Adam to go insane, and for unknown reasons, resurrect Thanos as part of a sinister plan. There’s also the unresolved matter of a huge fault in space (the result of the to-the-death battle between Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans and Vulcan, baby brother of Cyclops and galactic-level d-bag.) There’s pretty much only two things that can happen when you have a great big hole. Something can go into it, or something can come OUT of it. Place your bets, Faithful Spoilerites, on which is WORSE.
We open with a flashback to the days of the Annihilation War, a time when the entire universe was at war (except, ironically, Earth, which Hal Jordan will tell you is just silly because everything important comes from Earth… Scotch was invented there, by a little old woman in Leningrad) and Peter Quill, the erstwhile Star-Lord, and Richard Rider, the last Nova, fought side-by-side. This flashback seamlessly leads us into a fight between a barely coherent Thanos and Star-Lord, which is ably put down by… Rocket Raccoon?? Wielding a massive gun, Rocky snarls, “I’ve got it set on quarter power, enough to paralyze you long enough for us to put you in a cryogenic pod and drop you into a gravity sink…” The Raccoon coldly tells the mad god that he knows Thanos doesn’t fear death, but he will not hesitate to give him endless LIFE, paralyzed and insane. It’s a gambit worthy of the Dread Pirate Roberts, and it causes the purple people-eater to stop killing Star-Lord for a minute. (Rocket Raccoon, by the way? Is HARDCORE…) Elsewhere in space, the entire Kree fleet, led by Queen Medusa, is on the run from Adam Warlock/Magus, who has opened the Fault in space and let massive evil creatures come through.
The Queen is forced to destruct her fleet to try and kill them, and the only witness to their seeming deaths is the impassive herald of Galactus known as the Silver Surfer. (I’m not entirely sure that we just saw all the Inhumans die, but I’ve been wrong before.) As for the “What’s coming through the Fault?” question, we’re given an interesting answer, as the extradimensional madman Lord Mar-Vell meets with an evil version of Quasar about their plans to let “the many-angled ones” through to consume our universe. It’s actually kind of interesting to see the evil Avengers, driven by Cthulu-esque ancient monsters, having taken over their entire universe and ready to consume our own. (Certain Spoilerites will find great pleasure in seeing that the evil Avengers have an evil Ms. Marvel onboard their team… Or, as I call her: Ms. Marvel.) The Guardians of the Galaxy recieve the Kree distress call, and come up with the only plan that they think will work to take out the alternate universe: Giving them Thanos, and thereby reinstating death. The evil Avengers go up against the Nova Corps, while the Guardians transport themselves into the “Cancerverse” to try and engage their brilliant plan. Thanos collapses (overwhelmed by a universe where there is NO death) while the others take up arms against a sudden attack from the evil versions of Doctor Strange, Namor, Nighthawk, Hellcat, Valkyrie and The Hulk: The Defenders! (Evil alternate version, mind you…)
First things first: The art in this issue is just plain beautiful. Miguel Sepulveda plain old knocks it out of the park here, covering the costumes of the Revengers with mystical sigils and filling them with mystery, showing explosions, galaxy-level threats and plain old people (not to mention Racoons in laser-armed powered armored suits) with equal aplomb. Abnett and Lanning have long ago proven that they can take a huge cast and move them about in ways that are organic and make perfect sense without short-changing anyone. Namorita gets a moment here, as do Quasar, Drax the Destroyer, Cosmo the telepathic Russian space-dog and half a dozen others… The downside of things comes when we look at what is actually established during the story. There’s a lot of talking about how evil these “Revengers” are, but not a lot shown. Maybe you had to read the ‘Ignition’ one-shot that kicked this whole event off, but I had a big case of “stop telling me and show me’ during the battle, and that whole issue made Star-Lord’s eventual decision to let the worst villain of all time loose to try and save the day seem half-baked. Still, even with that weakness, it’s a rip-roaring adventure tale, with some nice moments in it, as well as a lot of awesome character work the likes of which we don’t usually get in a giant sprawling tale. The Thanos Imperative #1 does a lot of good things well, and even the flaws aren’t overwhelming enough to throw you out of the tale… That’s a rarity in and of itself.
Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: The Nova and Guardians ongoing series have been suspended for the duration of this crossover. I like that I don’t have to buy three books, but I’m bothered that this is the only outlet for my Nova and GoTG fixes. Do you think this strategy is a good thing, or a bad one? Discuss…