Marvel is promises to go cosmic in 2013, so what better time to look back and see if any of the classic cosmic trades are worth checking out? Tradewaiter breaks away from the traditional one-book review to give you a rundown of Marvel’s best (and worst) cosmic sagas!
In the previous installment, the last book reviewed dated to 1993. In the following years, there were many great cosmic stories, but (to my knowledge) none of them have been collected. Several years later, Marvel gave us
Fantastic Four: The Resurrection of Galactus
Galactus had a self-titled miniseries which actually starred the Silver Surfer, and it ended with Galactus being killed by Earth’s heroes (indirectly, of course…). His body became a star, and everyone was happy for about a year and a half. Then the Fantastic Four realized Galactus’ existance somehow held an entity known as Abraxis at bay. Now freed, Abraxis had been traveling the multiverse killing other Galactuses (Galacti?). Then he comes back, and Marvel’s first family have to travel through the multiverse in search of a way to beat him. The actual plot is rather vague, and the resolution is very unsatisfying. Avoid Galactus’ death, and avoid his resurrection.
This four-issue miniseries featured a small group of Avengers traveling through space to prevent some unfathomable beings from destroying all life in the galaxy for aestetic reasons. It features some great characterization, but concludes with a very cliche scene where the various Avengers spout off generic “We’re human” speeches and convince the near-omnipotent beings life is worth saving. On its own this isn’t the best of stories, but it’s not bad. Especially not as a lead into the next cosmic tale-
Maximum Security Omnibus
“Maximum Security” was the culmination of numerous Avengers storylines, including the previous entry. Consisting of a prologue, three issues, and tie-ins from every book Marvel published in January 2000. About 3 of them are truely essential, and the rest are…inessential is a polite way to put it. When it comes to this collection, pass on the Omnibus pricetag and buy the backissues instead. You’ll save a bundle, and only have a couple dues ex machina scenes, such as when Iron Man tells Mr Fantastic “We need this data!”, only to have Gambit enter by polevault in the next panel with the data on a floppy disc.
Captain Marvel, vol 4/5
Peter David wrote about the son of the original Captain Marvel, and his run was fantastic. For sales reasons, the series was renumbered about halfway through and took a new direction, but both volumes are worth a look. The real highlight for this series is the supporting cast, which includes Moondragon and Phyla-Vell, the future Quasar. The trades are out of print, so it might be easier and/or cheaper to find these tales as back issues. Make the effort to locate it either way, you won’t regret it.
Time was, no one got to write Thanos other than Jim Starlin. Time was, Starlin was developing the character from villain to anti-villian to anti-hero. Then others began to write him and returned to the classic characterization. Dan Jurgens, for example, wrote a terrible arc in “Thor” vol 2 where Thanos acts straight up evil. Peter David, realizing it was bad, tried to explain it away in the pages of “Captain Marvel,” and did a great job. Not great enough for Starlin though, so we get “Infinty Abyss,” which introduces clones of Thanos who have been impersonating him everytime he appeared in a story not written by Jim Starlin. No writer since has taken referenced this story at all, so there’s no need for you to read it either, unless you just want to.
Marvel Universe: The End
Starlin followed “Infinity Abyss” with the epic destruction of the Marvel Universe itself. It stars Thanos, Adam Warlock, and a new villain in the form of an Egyptian pharoh. Like most of Starlin’s recent Marvel epics, this one ends with the whole event being remembered by exactly two people. It gets a passing mention in the first issue of the “Thanos” ongoing, but this is ultimately something which is better left unread.
This hard-to-find collection contains the first six issues of Thanos’ ongoing series. It features his attempt to make ammends with the Rigellians, whose race his clones nearly annihilated. This is another one from Starlin, and it’s a step or two up from the previous comics. The higher quality is due to the development of Thanos and his two guest stars, Warlock and Galactus. While they aren’t changed too much by the events in these chapters, they are deeper. Plus, Thanos throws down with the devourer of worlds. If you can locate a copy, this one will be a great addition to your bookshelf.
Next week: “Annihilation”