By jloneblackheart 13 Comments
I have to say it has been a bleak year in Cosmic Marvel and the glory that spawned from Annihilation seems to have finally fizzled out into random mini-series and many character deaths states of comic limbo.
Quick 2010 Recap
Coming out of War of Kings, 2010 continued where the event left off with Realm of Kings. This event spawned several minis including the Inhumans, the Imperial Guard and the highly confusing Son of Hulk. The alien species of the Kree and the Shi’ar now united under the rule of the Inhumans after their victory began to investigate the damage – a massive fissure in space-time known as the Fault. This event also had repercussions for all Cosmic characters and involved the ongoing titles Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
The threat of this fissure would escalate to a full blown invasion by the inhabitants of a corrupted parallel universe known as the Cancerverse. Thus began the Thanos Imperative. Unfortunately, with the Thanos Imperative came the cancellation (not announced at the time) of Nova and Guardians, Marvel’s only ongoing cosmic books and the killing off of many Cosmic characters, including Nova, Starlord, Drax, Adam Warlock, Phyla-Vell, the Worldmind (including the entire Nova Force), Magus and Thanos.
The end of 2010 also brought about the Chaos War story arc, which had minimal consequences on the Cosmic scene, but it noteworthy due to – surprise, surprise – another plot device Earth level god becoming an Eternity level being and threat to the universe. Sigh.
Major Stories of 2011
Out of the Thanos Imperative we got a team of the Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes – the Annihilators. Consisting of the Silver Surfer, Gladiator, Quasar, Ronan, Beta Ray Bill and a new Spaceknight named Ikon, there was little team dynamic. The book was a short mini with a Rocket Raccoon and Groot back-up story (better than the main story), but the book was also priced at $4.99. A great deal for us cosmic fans, but that isn’t going to exactly draw in new readers and help the chances of Marvel Cosmic getting more spotlight.
A second mini was released in the same format called Annihilators: Earthfall. This was definitely a better attempt than the first series and the team started to have more of a foundation. While the book excluded the Silver Surfer (so he could be used in Fear Itself and the Mighty Thor), it did bring back the Magus with a plausible return.
With any luck, we will get more of this as it seems to be improving. It's a solid idea and a great way to get some spotlight on some otherwise hard-to-fit-in characters.
The Fantastic Four
As much as I love what Hickman is doing, he really crapped on some Cosmic characters and on some FF history with the corruption and destruction of Nu-World. It seemed to me like the whimsical deconstruction of all passed events on the premise that Galactus was trying to save his future self from death at the hands of the New Defenders. Now, surely Galactus and his incomprehensible intellect knows that changing the past only leads to an alternate future, or simply that the events leading to his demise in an alternate reality are not necessarily to take place in his own reality.
Not to mention, he destroys the planet, yet let’s any who are there escape, some of whom were the ones to destroy him in that alternate future. So, what was the point of this exactly? Either Hickman has got some beef with Millar’s run or he just killed these characters so he could have Galactus mention he is worried about Franklin Richards and the return of his power.
Aside from this, the series remains 'fantastic' and is worth picking up (although it is not necessarily a cosmic title).
The Silver Surfer
Aside from being in the Annihilators and appearing in the Fantastic Four, the Surfer got his own 5 issue limited series exploring his humanity. It was a touching story that finally brought Norrin Radd back to the cold exterior of the Silver Surfer which we had grown accustomed to since returning as the Herald of Galactus in Annihilation so many years ago.
This series also added a new player to the cosmic mix – the High Evolutionary. Now possessing some of the Power Cosmic, he calls himself the Worldbuilder and plans to make a place for himself in the universe as somewhat of an Anti-Galactus. But we all know, his judgment on perfection is skewed and could possibly result in a great story in the future.
In my opinion, this was the best the Silver Surfer has been treated in a long time. The book was written superbly by Greg Pak and the art was fantastic. A very moving story.
The Kree and the Inhumans are also used in the series, giving us a more in depth history of the creation of the Inhumans. This also brings about the Universal Inhumans – four more surviving races of Inhumans also created by the Kree – and they want Earth as New Hala. Black Bolt also inexplicably returns from the dead to lead them (even though it was stated the Fault and Cancerverse collapsed in on itself when Death destroyed the reality).
The interesting development is the Inhumans leave the Kree to lead themselves (with no mention of what is to become of the Shi’ar, currently under their rule as well). Ronan takes command and delightfully, Crystal remains by his side.
The Mighty Thor
The only thing I find worse than the neglect of Marvel Cosmic characters is the misuse of them. Matt Fraction does a great job of knocking Galactus down a few pegs and putting him at near Odin level power. I don’t deny Odin’s might, but come on. No planetary level god should be even close to equal the balancing force between Eternity and Death.
Besides having Galactus job a bit and the Silver Surfer condescending and belittling people for the first time in his history, Fraction has the Surfer remain on Earth and his powers will weaken the further he gets from Earth. Don’t worry, it’s not forever… only until all the Asgardians die off. Marvel will kill off Thor in the next couple years or so, right?
On top of this, a Christian pastor becomes the new Herald of Galactus. At the Surfer’s request. Um, yeah, because the Surfer would bestow that burden to someone else with a clear conscience. What bothers me most is that Marvel has completely forgotten about Stardust. She is still the Herald of Galactus, yet hasn’t appeared since Godhunter in 2009. There’s no need for another new herald, he’s already got one!
The Silver Surfer is currently appearing in the new ongoing Defenders title, explaining his recent attachment to Earth. Unfortunately, this will also be written by Matt Fraction. Fraction has made some statements regarding his thoughts on the Surfer and his inspiration in Stan Lee’s original run where the Surfer was trapped on Earth. If that is what he is going to attempt to emulate, not only will he fail at doing a better job, but we have also already seen this story. Not only that, but they basically took Marvel's most recognizable and popular cosmic character and put him back on Earth.
Some uncertainty remains for Ronan, who after resurrecting the Supreme Intelligence refused to assist in destroying Earth. This could be a good or bad thing for the characters, since sometimes writers simply use lower tier characters for plot purposes and never have intentions for a future. I have faith in Hickman though. The only confusing thing regarding Ronan is he is saving the Earth in Annihilators: Earthfall and attacking Earth in Fantastic Four/FF at the same time.
The big Point One issue one shot had a Nova story in it by Jeph Loeb. While this was Nova, it did not seem to be Richard Rider. He also made mention of the Nova Corps, so I guess they are still around? The main problem with this is that it was a story to bring the return of the Phoenix Force, which will most likely have nothing to do with the Cosmic universe and simply bring it back to Earth and the mutants. Did I mention the PF killed Terrax in the story? Another waste of a good character. There is also no mention of an upcoming Nova book. Very frustrating.
Galactus is set to appear in the pages of the Fantastic Four and FF and apparently will be battling the Celestials (and possibly Franklin Richards?). Finally, something that looks promising.
I know I sound cynical and bitter, but let’s be honest; it appears that the era has ended. It’s only been going downhill for years now. There are no plans for upcoming Cosmic stories announced and no solicitations through April for any releases. Aside from Hickman’s Fantastic Four and FF, there really isn’t anything going on.
For most Marvel readers, do not fret. There are plenty of new X books, Avengers books and Spider-Man books coming out and continuing. For those of us that enjoy the incredible roster of Marvel Cosmic characters, it appears we may have to wait it out for a bit and hope for the best.
In the meantime, any space action is going to have to be had with DC’s Green Lantern or Legion of Super-Heroes books or with more obscure characters with smaller publishers.