I am a fan of Marvel’s “cosmic” characters but I haven’t been following them for some years now (not since 2004, I reckon). I’ve tried to keep my mind in over the years [including Thunderbolts #100 (2006), the Civil War: The Return one-shot (2007) and the five-issue Captain Marvel limited series and The Mighty Avengers #19 (both 2008)], but none of those really seemed to strike my fancy. I don’t know what caused me to pick up the Thanos Imperative: Ignition one-shot a couple of weeks ago, but I had previously read the six-issue “Samaritan” story (Thanos #7-12) by Giffen and Lim (i.e., “someone other than Starlin”), so I figured what the hell.

I know from previous experience that mentioning Jim Starlin’s name is immediately going to polarize the opinions of those reading this, but to them I say to re-read (or read) his last major “cosmic” trilogy for Marvel (Infinity Abyss #1-6, Marvel: The End #1-6 and Thanos #1-6) in a single sitting (as I did just this morning) before rebutting.

Reading Thanos Imperative: Ignition was like opening the floodgates to the past several years’ worth of Marvel’s “cosmic” comics and doing so convinced me that someone other than Starlin can write cosmic Marvel comics. Initially my intention had been to follow just the Thanos Imperative limited series, but after two issues, discussions with Alan and Dagwan, and some research on my own, I decided to backtrack and pick up some of the series I had inadvertently “trade waited.”

I the days to come I will be starting at two different points in the cosmic timeline: at the very beginning with the Annihilation Book 1 tpb (collecting Drax the Detroyer #1-4, Annihilation: Prologue one-shot, and Nova #1-4) as well as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 (collecting issues #1-6). In addition, I will be discussing future issues of Thanos Imperative in this thread as they are released.

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Speaking of the original run of Nova (as I was yesterday), I flipped through my reading copies last night. As I recalled, Richard Rider lost his powers at the end of that series, and I know he’s long since regained them but I’ve kinda turned a blind eye to him since then. When he showed up in the New Warriors in a red costume I kind of ignored it or pretended it was a different character or something. Last night I read the text pages of that Origin of Richard Rider one-shot and caught myself up to the beginning of Annihilation. Now I’m ready to move forward.

For those of you waiting with bated breath: I bought the Annihilation: Book 1 tpb this afternoon.
Just to be nitpicky, he didn't lose his powers in his own book; he lost them when Bill Mantlo cleaned up the Xandar/Skrull War in the pages of ROM several years later.

Jeff of Earth-J said:
Speaking of the original run of Nova (as I was yesterday), I flipped through my reading copies last night. As I recalled, Richard Rider lost his powers at the end of that series, and I know he’s long since regained them but I’ve kinda turned a blind eye to him since then. When he showed up in the New Warriors in a red costume I kind of ignored it or pretended it was a different character or something. Last night I read the text pages of that Origin of Richard Rider one-shot and caught myself up to the beginning of Annihilation. Now I’m ready to move forward.

For those of you waiting with bated breath: I bought the Annihilation: Book 1 tpb this afternoon.
What If? #36 - the if-the-FF-had-not-gained-superpowers one - had a back-up story on the subject "What if Nova had not given up his powers?". I believe in-continuity he had to choose between returning to Earth and giving up the power of Nova because Xandar needed it. In the What If? story he sneaks back to Earth without giving it up, but the Champions of Xandar come after him and they fight. When he understands he's acting selfishly, he gives it up.

Marv Wolfman wrote an earlier Nova-themed What If? on the subject "What if Nova had been four other people?", but I haven't seen that one.
Rich Lane said:
Just to be nitpicky, he didn't lose his powers in his own book; he lost them when Bill Mantlo cleaned up the Xandar/Skrull War in the pages of ROM several years later.

Really? I thought for sure it was Nova #25 (and that it was Marv Wolfman who tied up loose ends in Fantastic Four).


You may be right, though, because I discovered yesterday that I thought I had replaced Nova #1-25, when in fact I replaced only #2-18. I remember now. Someone was selling boxes of '70s titles cheap, and the guy in line ahead of me picked out every frikkin' #1 issue from every box.
In the final Nova storyline Nova went off into space with a number of supporting characters (Crimebuster, the Comet, Diamondhead, Powerhouse, the Sphinx, and Doctor Sun [who originally appeared in Tomb of Dracula]). The storyline intersected with an already-underway storyline involving the Skrulls waging war upon Xandar in Fantastic Four. According to FF storyline, when Xandar was shattered the Watcher intervened to preserve an atmosphere around four of its fragments, allowing Xandarian civilisation to survive.

When Nova and co. reached Xandar in Fantastic Four #208 the Sphinx learned the secret of the universe from Xandar's "Living Computers" (the networked stored brains of dead Xandarians). This gave him great power and giant stature. He had been seeking the power to end his own existence, but now decided to return to Earth "as a destroyer" instead. Meanwhile the Living Computers transformed Prime Thoran, their Keeper, into a superpowerful form, and he flew off to fight the Skrulls. In the course of the issue Nova's gang (minus the Sphinx and the Dr. Sun) was given the name the Champions.

With #209 John Byrne took over the pencils. The Fantastic Four went off to find Galactus to get him to stop the Sphinx, leaving the Skrull/Xandar war unresolved. Dialogue revealed Prime Thoran was gradually destroying the Skrull fleet. The Skrull Empress killed the Emperor, who was planning to run away, and assumed power. (Hence she was the empire's ruler when Galactus destroyed the Skrull homeworld during Byrne's writer/artist run.) She ordered a withdrawal to prepare an attack intended to destroy Xandar.

The Skrull/Xandar war was then forgotten until #214. In that issue Johnny contacted Xandar looking for help and was told the Xandarian warriers were engaged in a battle with the Skrull fleet and were destroying it. A couple of panels showed the battle, with Nova taking part. And so the storyline ended.

#209 also introduced Herbie into the comics. (In #217 Doctor Sun's consciousness took him over. At the end of the issue Herbie sacrificed himself to protect the FF.) In #210 Reed told Galactus he would release him from his promise not to eat the Earth if he'd stop the Sphinx. (Reed tricked him into leaving Earth at the end of the storyline, but that's why Galactus was no longer bound by his promise when he returned during Byrne's writer/artist run.) In #211 Galactus sent the FF off to recruit the tyrant Tyros to be his new herald, Terrax the Tamer. Galactus fought the Sphinx in ##212-213. On defeating him, he condemned the Sphinx to re-live his life over and over.
Yes, Nova still had his powers in Fantastic Four after his book got cancelled. He remained on Xandar until his ROM appearances. If you noticed, above his logo it always read "He's Here! The Human Rocket!" but in his last issue, it said, "He's GONE! The Human Rocket"!

Marvel may have wanted Nova to be the next Spider-Man but it never gave him that much exposure. He teamed with Spidey but as a guest star in Amazing Spider-Man #170-171, met the Thing in Marvel Two-In-One Annual#5, fought Thor in Nova #4 but never joined or guested in either Avengers or Defenders.

I don't remember how he regained his powers in New Warriors, but I do reluctantly recall his red costume and being called Kid Nova. I never heard of a hero going younger with his name when he got older but maybe he was trying to recapture a little of those glory days!
At the time the Nova name was taken by Frankie Raye, who had become Galactus's herald.
Thanks to everyone (especially Luke) for filling in those details I had forgotten. I’ve read those FF issues but barely recall them. There is a Premiere Hardcover of “The Search for Galactus” and I do own it, but I haven’t yet read it. Earlier this year I made a project of reading through all of the FF that has been reprinted in Marvel Masterwork, Premiere HC or tpb, but I stopped… well, right at that point, actually. I think I’ll be in the mood to re-read them soon.

I don’t have too many of the early issues of ROM apart from #1, 26-27. It looks as if the Nova plot threads were dealt with in #24 and I know I’ve never read that. The text pages from The Origin of Richard Ryder explains all about how he regained his powers and why he donned a red suit and allowed himself to be seen by the general public as perhaps a different hero, but I couldn’t quote specifics.

I also only vaguely remember "Super-Nova" from Avengers #301-303.

Finally, thanks for the link to the Drax discussion, John. I’ll read it after I read the mini-series (probably this coming weekend).
Figserello said:
Wow, Jeff. You might want to go the whole hog and read the Nova Essential, then all the appearances of the Shi-Ar in Claremont's comics, and then .... and then....

Were you joking or do you really know me that well? Or were you joking because you know me that well? In any case, after Rich pointed out I didn’t remember Nova #25 as well as I thought I did, I gave the Essential a quick flip-through last week and discovered he was correct: that’s not the way I remembered that series ending! I didn’t buy the Essential but I did start re-reading issues #2-18. My LCS didn’t have Rom #24 in stock or I would have bought that.

Regarding the Annihilation: Book 1 tpb (SPOILERS)…

Drax the Destroyer #1-4: Even though this mini-series has little to do with Annihilation itself, I do think this is the best point at which to start the collection (otherwise, readers would be left clueless about the new status of Drax the Destroyer when he next appears in the Annihilation: Prologue one-shot. Like ‘Tec, I too prefer Drax’s original personality to the big, dumb, muscle-bound strongman, so the changes introduced in this series were a welcome change for me.

I also think the supporting characters were well-handled. The minor second-string “cosmic” characters had all been seen before but were introduced and written in such a way that readers unfamiliar with them wouldn’t have felt as if they had missed anything; there’s just an added level for those of us who are familiar with them. I just finished reading the recent Hercules and I must say I warmed up to Cammi in a way I never did to Amadeus Cho.

Annihilation: Prologue: This comic picks up the threads of the Kyln and the Verge almost exactly from the end of the six-part “Samaritan” story in Thanos #7-12 (not surprisingly, since Keith Giffen wrote them both), which, yes, I did re-read prior to delving into this project. I had forgotten that Peter Quill (formerly Starlord) was a supporting character in “Samaritan” and I am looking forward to his eventual reintroduction in Annhilation. Annihilus is revealed on last page.

Nova #1-4: Unlike the mini-series and one-shot which preceded it, these four issues were written by the team of Abnett and Lanning. Although I haven’t yet re-read the entire original Nova series in preparation for reading this series, I did read Avengers #302-303, New Warriors #1 and Thor #412, so I have a pretty good idea the circumstances under which Richard Rider regained his powers. I haven’t yet learned how he hooked up with the Xandarian Nova Corps again, but I’ll figure it out eventually. The main event of these four issues (as I see it) is the death of Quasar.
My take on Drax the Destroyer 1-4

I’ve no doubt this is the best place to start the Annihilation comics. It’s not just that it’s taking up the characters anew, attempting to join up Marvel’s cosmic characters cohesively when they had previously been popping up willy-nilly in diffuse appearances for years. It’s also that it marks a whole new tone and approach to them: cynical and amoral. This mini felt very much like a spaghetti western. (High Plains Drifter, to be precise, with the team of escaped fugitives taking over the small town) But the tough-guy dialogue and the hardened killers centre-stage also places it as a post-Tarantino kind of thing, which was only a recent development at Marvel in 2005.

I’m sure 2000AD/Clint Eastwood/Tarantino wasn’t the model for previous ‘cosmic’ comics at Marvel.

The minor second-string “cosmic” characters had all been seen before but were introduced and written in such a way that readers unfamiliar with them wouldn’t have felt as if they had missed anything.

That’d be me. Yeah, Paibok’s name rang a bell, and I’d heard of Drax too, but that’s about it. I definitely didn’t feel that I needed to know much more to enjoy this series. I’d say that accessibility was studied on the part of Giffen.

I think these 4 comics were unusual for their time in that there was an editorial/letters page in 3 of them. The tone of them is interesting. It’s as if they know that a 4-issue mini about an almost forgotten background character would never fly in the market then, but they seemed to have a faith in it, and between the lines they seemed to be indicating that bigger things might flow from it.

I see from Comichron that the sales went from 20,000 to 12,000 over the four months. Someone should remind those 8,000 readers that comics collectors are supposed to be an exasperatingly anal-retentive lot that have to complete any collections that they start…

Without this series Annihilation might look like yet another example of one of the big two copying the other - in this case Marvel getting on the Green Lantern bandwagon, but there's a lot about Drax, including the vibe in the editorial pages that shows Marvel were laying the groundwork for a larger story before GL really took off.

Regarding the story itself, I thought it was a cracking little tale. Although reading it over 2 nights was definitely fun, I’m not quite sure it would have been worth the total price and a 4-month wait though. It’s strange how little *story* you get in 4 issues of modern comics. If this was in 2000AD (Did I mention it feels very like something from The Galaxy’s Greatest Comic?), it would have taken 6 weeks and 36 pages maximum to tell this story.

I just finished reading the recent Hercules and I must say I warmed up to Cammi in a way I never did to Amadeus Cho.

It’s not so much that she’s a great character. Aren’t precocious young girls, more assertive and full o fight than their male friends, getting a bit passé now? And then the broken family and abusive neglectful parent. She’s probably a cutter too! [eye-roll] Her relationship with Drax was where the magic was at. OK Leon got there before, but it’s still a great dynamic. She’s obviously fixated on him as some kind of substitute parent/big brother, and there is an element of religious faith in this saviour who came from the heavens, died and rose again. Their dynamic is a little unusual and I’d be interested to see where they go with it.

Her life on Earth being so crap also means that she will probably adapt well to life out there in the stars. Both her parents now being dead means that she’s kind of free. Her character and motivations are still quite hard to fathom at the end of the four comics, which is another good thing.

I think they had enough reasons for her to hook up with Drax without him mentioning that she’d now have the smell of him on her which would scare off normal Earth people!

I loved that it didn’t quite feel like a Marvel comic. (Although it’s probably one of those comics that the purists will point to and accuse of wanting to be a movie rather than a proper comic mmmm per se.)

The main Marvel Universe under Bendis has been trying to be Post-Tarantino for years, but it’s a poor fit with the mainstream characters that we grew up with.

I’ll read the start of Annihilation proper tonight and catch up witht he discussion then.

One other thing - Asylum 8 seemed like a cool and evocative alternate title for Earth, possibly denoting why it seems out of bounds for the most part with all these space-faring folk. Does anyone know if it was used before, and where?
Gah! Just read the Prologue and the Nova mini.

I tried not to read your notes on them, but registered that Quaser died before I jumped into the Nova series. It would probably have been a big shock otherwise.

(My fault, of course. I'll try to be more careful in future. Hope your comments on Silver Surfer are mucho spoilerific, because I don't have them!)

As for the prologue, I couldn't help but think the Nova Corps were just a watered down GL corps. They won't be missed!

This comic picks up the threads of the Kyln and the Verge almost exactly from the end of the six-part “Samaritan” story in Thanos #7-12 (not surprisingly, since Keith Giffen wrote them both), which, yes, I did re-read prior to delving into this project.

Gosh, you are thorough. So this storyline does go back beyond Drax, and they've even managed to tie it to a Starlin series. Nice going.

The main event of these four issues (as I see it) is the death of Quasar. "Gah" again.

Actually on that note, his death ties into something else I noticed. Consider this exchange:

Cammi: "I'm trying to figure it out. Would it be worse having to wear a cape in public, or a bucket on your head?"

To which Nova replies: "Oh, this is Cammi. She says out loud stuff most people just think."

In fact, the truth is probably more along the lines of "She says out loud stuff that people who hate superheroes, in particular the writers of this Marvel comic, just think."

It's a strange thing to be doing, writing a superhero comic when you hate them, but there you go.

Poor Quaser is presented as a very traditional do-gooding superhero, quoting Spider-man's dictum and all that, which is why he buys the farm. I only read the few chapters of Quasar that appeared in Galactic Storm (and that in German translation!) but he was alright. In terms of the MU he was perhaps their only straight up superhero who extended his protection beyond the Earth. Did he appear during Project Pegasus as Marvelman? Then my acquaintance with him goes back even further... I'd say Quaser had plenty of fans in the 90s. It was probably a toss-up between him and Nova being revived for this series. Nice guys finish last when the Haters are running the show!

Sure, these guys should tell an exciting story and punctuate it with startling and shocking story beats, but its a bit of a drag that they have this agenda against the very form they are working in.

Actually, Cammi's comment doesn't quite ring true either when you consider how much she has had to open her mind in order to hitch a ride on Drax's pan-Galactic journey. Capes and odd headgear would be the very least of the things she's seen so far!
I’m sure 2000AD/Clint Eastwood/Tarantino wasn’t the model for previous ‘cosmic’ comics at Marvel.

Uh, no…

That’d be me.

The Blood Brothers were among the first “cosmic” characters introduced by Jim Starlin back in Iron Man #55 and Marvel Feature #12


I think these 4 comics were unusual for their time in that there was an editorial/letters page in 3 of them. The tone of them is interesting. It’s as if they know that a 4-issue mini about an almost forgotten background character would never fly in the market then, but they seemed to have a faith in it, and between the lines they seemed to be indicating that bigger things might flow from it.

I missed editorial pages reading them in collected format, but your other comments remind me of one of ‘Tec’s criticisms he posted on the old board, namely, “My only complaint is that it is not made clear what direction Giffen has planned for these characters by the end of the story. Normally, I like a little more closure at the end of a four issue mini.” I didn’t buy this series initially, Figs, for the very reason you cite. But mini-series have changed since they first became popular in the ‘80s. It used to be, at Marvel anyway, that a mini-series would not be approved unless to presented some sort of significant turning point in the life of the main character. Now they’re more likely to be used as introductions and/or tie-ins to larger “events”.

Her relationship with Drax was where the magic was at.

Agreed. I do think, like Amadeus Cho, her intelligence could be turned either toward heroism or villainy. I’m thinking particularly of the way she manipulates people and has no sympathy for others’ pain (when the Blood Bothers “killed” Drax before her eyes, for example).

Does anyone know if [Asylum 8] was used before, and where?

???

I tried not to read your notes on them, but registered that Quaser died before I jumped into the Nova series. It would probably have been a big shock otherwise.

I am sorry but I did post a spoiler warning. :(

In terms of the MU he was perhaps their only straight up superhero who extended his protection beyond the Earth.

Yes, Marvel even made note of it on the covers of his title: “The Cosmic Avenger!”

Did he appear during Project Pegasus as Marvelman?

No, he was Quasar at that time. (That’s when he switched, actually.) those stories are available in a Premiere Hardcover edition, BTW. More on Quasar later…

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