Written By: Donny Cates
Art By: Geoff Shaw
The galaxy is in chaos. Hundreds of tribes, sects, and nations throughout the stars are at war. It is a time of “unmitigated death,” Eros proclaims on the deck of “The Sanctuary” to a crowd consisting of a who’s who of cosmic Marvel characters and nations. There are The Kree, The Skrulls, The Shi’ar, and vast cast of characters ranging from Beta Ray Bill to Howard The Duck. As he stands over the decapitated body of his brother Thanos, “The Mad Titan,” he reminds them that even though the universe is in turmoil they are still able to come together united. They have been lured there to hear the last words of one of the most dangerous villains, but really this is just a rouge. As a hologram of Thanos explains, he’s far from ready to accept a death unless it’s on his terms. He shocks the crowd by revealing that he has uploaded his consciousness and implanted it in the mind of another. After letting the magnitude of such a revelation sink in Eros informs the room that all of them were summoned because of their moral absence in regards to taking a life. He’s made a list of possible candidates based on power levels, intelligence, and importance. His plan is to kill everyone on the list, starting with Gamora, who’s on the top of the list. All of this is interrupted though when The Black Order boards the ship from the high-jacked celestial head known as “Knowhere.”
The Black Order has come to take back the decapitated body of Thanos, and succeed in doing so, escaping by detonating an explosive device that rips a hole in space. All of the heroes present, to include the Silver Surfer, are presumably sucked into this hole, except for Beta Ray Bill, Moon Dragon, Phyla-Vell, and The Cosmic Ghost Rider, aka Frank Castle. They escape from through the hole in space by holding on to a chain of cosmic energy attached to Strom Breaker. Leaving the hole before it collapses they come out the other side crashing into Captain Peter Quill’s new ship “The Ryder,” named after Winona Ryder. He’s just concluded a discussion with a member of a Nova Corps patrol about why Knowwhere isn’t where it usually is. The Nova Corp want to take Beta Ray Bill and the other three survivors into custody for questioning, but Peter tells him he needs a warrant to enter his ship and take them. The Nova Corp explain that the galactic legality of the issue only protects him and his crew, so Captain Peter Quill quickly declares them all members of his crew or The Guardians of the Galaxy, much to the displeasure of Frank Castle. The issue concludes with The Black Order taking Knowwhere back to their home base and reporting to their new leader, who commands them to now find the head of Thanos so they can revive him. The mysterious leader is revealed to be none other than Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death.
The first comic I ever seriously cared about was the six-issue crossover “The Infinity Gauntlet.” Before that, I had always enjoyed comics and even bought a few here and there, but it wasn’t really a big part of my life. I never seriously got into them until Mephisto declared Thanos a god in the two-page spread in issue one. There was such grandeur to it, to the story, and to Thanos. I was hooked. I sped through issue after issue of “The Infinity Gauntlet,” “Infinity War” and even the far less amazing “Infinity Crusade.” All the while picking up other comics as well and cementing myself as a lifelong fan of the artform. So yeah, Thanos got me into comics, which makes me a little biased towards any comic he’s in. I also thoroughly enjoyed Donny Cates’ work on his solo comic. Cates is already an accomplished writer having worked on a variety of great titles to include “Death of the Inhumans,” “Venom,” and of course “Redneck” on Image comics, an amazing series I highly recommend. This issue felt very much like a great follow up to Cates’ work on “Thanos.” As a fan of that series, I found it really easy to open up this issue and nestle in as one would under a warm blanket.
Stephen Hawking once said, “One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect.” The same is true for any comic book. In this case, the problems with this comic are problems with its universe, the Marvel Universe. With a heavy sigh, I must turn my attention to the existence of Frank Castle The Cosmic Ghost Rider. I know, Cates wrote that book too, and it was well written, but do we need another “Frankencastle?” Why does Marvel keep doing this to Frank Castle? It’s like they don’t realize that what makes The Punisher so amazing is his lack of powers or absurdness. There’s been a tonal shift of the character as well. An example of this would be when, in this issue, he shouts at the hologram of Thanos “Oh come on! Get on with it you #@$%*&@ blowhard!” It just seems less like a Frank Castle thing to say, and more like a Rocket Raccoon thing to say. My fear is that Marvel wants him to become the comedic element on the new team, which isn’t Frank Castle. Then there’s Groot, who’s recently been changed to have him talking in full sentences. This can’t be blamed on Cates. He didn’t make the decision to strip away one of the most indelible and distinctive characteristics of the character, but none the less the character is still in the comic and it’s still weird to see him not communicating in his traditional three-word vocabulary. This and Frank Castle as comic relief took me briefly out of the scenes they were in. The growing pains of getting used to them is distracting to an old school comic book fan like myself, but it’s not a deal breaker by any means.
As always the essential question with a review of any comic book is “Should I buy it?” Should I take my hard earned money and put it towards this book? Will I enjoy it? Is it well written? The answer is yes to all. I thoroughly enjoyed this issue, and look forward to this book. Cates is setting up an intriguing plot and has laid out a great tone and pace for the comic. Although I don’t like the idea of The Cosmic Ghost Rider, or the fact that Groot has changed, the quality of writing has won me over. It feels like the beginning to another thrilling chapter in the saga of Thanos, and an amazing first arc for a new Guardians of the Galaxy line up. I highly recommend this for fans of Thanos, Guardians of the Galaxy, or the Marvel Cosmic Universe.
4 out of 5 Latverian Francs
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