Friday, April 07, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy #25 When: June 2010 Why: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning How: Brad Walker

The Story So Far...

Back-to-back incursions of Annihilus and his Negative Zone Annihilation Wave, as well as Ultron's Phalanx, has left the fabric of space severely damaged and unstable!

With reality itself hanging precariously in the balance: the hero Star-Lord has taken it upon himself to form a new group of heroes known as The Guardians of the Galaxy! Together, they fight to protect the universe, and monitor the threat of dangerous anomalies!

This time the threat has come from one of their own! Succumbing to his evil half, Adam Warlock has become the dreaded Magus! The Guardians pursue him to the planet Sacrosanct, where his sinister scheme has employed The Universal Church of Truth -- but things are not all as they seem!

An illusion of Magus' defeat has masked his escape, tricking The Guardians into believing some of their most loved members have fallen. Worse still, The Church has been guarding a reanimation cocoon meant to return one of the universe's deadliest threats! With Sacrosanct in ruin, The Guardians arrive to discover a foe they hoped never to face: The Titan Thanos lives again!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Thanos 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Thanos 5 (Professor)
Speed: Gamora 4 (Olympian)
Stamina: Thanos 7 (Unstoppable)
Agility: Groot 6 (Rubber)
Fighting: Drax 7 (Living Weapon)
Energy: Thanos 6 (Mass Destruction)
Total: Thanos 34 (Super)

Here on Secret Wars on Infinite Earths we use our own scientifically developed numerical scale to measure the typical powers & abilities of heroes and villains.
Each statistic on The Tape is assigned a moniker to help personify a broad reference for that level (ie; Intelligence 5 - Professor). For the most part, this system has served us well, but occasionally catchall references let us down...

Thanos may fall into our "Super Class" category, but history shows he is a threat on a cosmic scale! So grand are his dark designs against life that his plans are as likely to endanger worlds as they are the entirety of reality itself!

"The Mad Titan" is named for his birthplace on the moon of Saturn, where a colony of super-powered Eternals was known to settle. Deviant mutation gifted Thanos incredible powers at birth, but also a predisposition towards obsession with death. He amassed further power through strenuous augmentation to feed his desires for death and conquest. Eventually, he turned this power against his own people -- obliterating even his own mother with callous disregard!

So total is Thanos' devotion to death that when he met its personification he fell madly in love. Subsequent efforts to court Death as his mistress have led Thanos to genocidal extremes. His most famous exploit: forging The Infinity Gauntlet in order to reshape the universe -- including decimating half of all life!

We've only seen Thanos a few times on The Comic Book Fight Club, but each appearance has placed him in ominous company!

He sought to manipulate the newly bestowed powers of Kyle Rayner in Green Lantern/Silver Surfer, making a patsy out of Terrax in the process. When the Marvel and DC Universes collided in DC versus Marvel #4, he stood beside Darkseid against an all-star assembly of Avengers and The Justice League! When the two universes were briefly merged: Thanoseid created a nightmare vision of evil that vexed Thorion -- the godly fusion of Thor and Orion!

Despite this awesome level of cosmic might, Thanos is not quite inherently immortal. His Titanian origins grant him considerable durability and nigh eternal life, but it was only during a period when Death denied him entry into her dominion that he was truly unkillable. Indeed, for today's battle he has had to be resurrected from death inflicted by one of his opponents!

The Guardians of the Galaxy are: Star-Lord, Mantis, Moondragon, Gamora, Drax, Groot, Rocket Raccoon, Jack Flag and Bug, with Major Victory.

This rag tag group of heroes was brought together by Star-Lord in order to protect against the effects of fissures in space caused by Annihilation, and subsequent cosmic events.

Appropriately enough, it was in Annihilation #4 that Drax The Destroyer succeeded in fulfilling his life's goal to extinguish the life of Thanos! This makes Drax an obvious punch-hitter for The Guardians, whose only other physical power house is the Planet X "Flora Colossus" known as Groot.

Groot's regenerative and adaptive abilities make him a versatile contributor to the team's combat formations. Moondragon packs a hefty punch thanks to her high-level psionic capabilities, too. Thanos is highly resistant to mental attack, but her telekinetic powers offer strong physical opposition.

Barring environmental factors, the rest of the team can really only hope to provide support against a threat as dangerous as Thanos!

The Tape: Guardians of the Galaxy Ranking: Drax (#172)

What Went Down...
On the planet Sacrosanct: The Guardians of the Galaxy discover a world in ruin.

Rocket Raccoon's scanners can find no signs of the planet's once bustling population. Moondragon's telepathic mind probe has no better luck. The absence of life was the only clue they needed. The presence of an old adversary catches in Drax The Destroyer's throat like "ashes on the back of my throat".

An explosion draws the heroes towards danger -- and an unexpected reunion with old friends: Mantis, Gamora, Cosmo, and Major Victory! The pleasure is short lived. Rampaging right behind them is the source of the chaos: Thanos!

Fresh from a reanimation cocoon: The Mad Titan explodes through fire and ruin, blasting deadly beams of energy from his eyes and hands! The heroes can only run as the naked, snarling behemoth shatters the earth beneath their feet!

Mantis fills Star-Lord and Jack Flag in on previous attempts to contain the feral, recently returned Thanos. His resurrection seems to have been a reluctant one, which cost the lives of not only The Universal Church of Truth who reanimated him -- but also the hero Phyla-Vell.

Madness begets madness. In her grief, Moondragon turns to face the monster who killed her lover and has threatened so much of her life. Thanos greets her with mindless rage and more raw energy projections. She erects a telekinetic shield to defend herself, but his power is alarming in its scale!

Moondragon seeks mental reinforcement from Mantis or Cosmo, but is instead defended from giant clubbing fists by the shield of Captain America! Not by the soldier of distant past, but by a displaced future hero known as Major Victory!

A seemingly stunned Thanos pauses for just a moment as his massive hands begin to smolder. It seems hope is lost for the heroes, but Star-Lord, Rocket, Drax, Groot are there with guns blazing to give their friends time to retreat!

The hi-tech weapons succeed in stopping Thanos for a moment. When the dust settles: his feral rage returns -- expressed in a massive wave of cosmic energy!

The Guardians narrowly avoid certain death by ducking just beneath the power blast! Not all of them intend to shrink away from the deadly Titan, though! With little warning: Groot towers above the battlefield, swinging a piece of a destroyed building like a might club!

The structure smacks into Thanos, but fails to knock him down! The Titan fires back with a shot to Groot's humanoid trunk, but the Flora Colossus endures to bring his massive wooden fist slamming down into Thanos' naked back!

Any other foe would be down for the count, but from his hunched position The Mad Titan locks both hands together to deliver an all mighty, cosmically charged uppercut that knocks Groot off his feet!

While Rocket tends to Groot, who's down for the count; Gamora theorizes that Thanos has actually reclaimed true invincibility! Before The Guardians arrived, her Godslayer sword was broken against his skin! Drax disregards the story.

The Destroyer launches a frontal assault against his arch-nemesis! He absorbs untold energies fired at his back, averting Thanos' gaze with a right hand that closes one of his energy spewing eyes!

With options fast dwindling, Star-Lord assesses the situation with Mantis, and reaches a dire conclusion. While Jack Flag and Bug run distraction to try to save their falling comrades -- Peter Quill strolls casually into the path of danger!

Star-Lord's cavalier attitude makes more sense when he produces the cracked, but still gleaming hope of a Cosmic Cube!

Its light breaks through Thanos' mindless rage, drawing the purple beast toward its familiar power. It was given to Peter Quill by Kang The Conquere. A trump card in the battle against the threat of Magus. It was broken and almost spent, but it still has one last charge for defeating Thanos!

The Cosmic Cube unleashes its final power in an awesome burst of blinding light! When it ceases: The Mad Titan lies smoking in the dirt - alive, but defeated! In a barely conscious state, he finally mutters his first ominous words: "You... Forced Me... To live again... For that... E-Everything... D-Dies..."

The Hammer...
From the clutches of defeat escapes Star-Lord thanks to the awesome might of the Cosmic Cube!

Though none of the other Guardians of the Galaxy could ensure victory themselves, they all played a valid part. For that, they each receive an assist stat. Find out what that means for their positions on the Fight Club Rankings at the bottom of this post!

We have a lot of significant debuting characters in today's featured fight! The Guardians came to peak significance during our dark years, emerging in their current form from the cosmic revival initiated by 2006's Annihilation. There were a few years of overlap, but we just never got around to them. Until now!

This second volume of the series launched in 2008. It redefined Guardians of the Galaxy for a whole new generation, whilst building towards the worldwide licensing phenomenon brought about by their first theatrical outing in 2014!

The majority of these characters existed for many years before assembling as part of the new team. Some were major characters as recently as the nineties, but others had to be plucked from relative obscurity. Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon might be fan-favourites today, but it wasn't that long ago that few even knew who they were, let alone wanted to hear more about them!

From today's perspective, it's strange to think the cosmic wings of the Marvel Universe had ever fallen out of favour. Yet, even a former headlining hero like Silver Surfer was struggling for sustained relevance in Marvel's publishing line-up of the 2000s!

Peter David's work sustained an unlikely Captain Marvel run with Genis-Vel in the title role for two years. Thanos was a steady presence in a variety of series as well, including solo stories, and Marvel's The End. Though acclaimed and/or beloved, these were exceptions drifting to the margins as Marvel Knights pushed an urban renaissance through series like Daredevil, and the company started bifurcating into the stripped down, movie inspired Ultimate line.

The first character to really get a sniff at a revival was Drax The Destroyer in 2005. A four issue mini-series introduced his transformation from the green & purple Hulk wannabe of Jim Starlin Infinity events -- to a red-tattooed Vin Diesel knock-off, seemingly inspired by Pitch Black.

When it came time to launch the all-out Marvel cosmic revival shortly after Drax; the publisher used the same mini-series format to lend heft to their binding Annihilation event. Tie-in titles starred well known cosmic characters of long time notoriety: Nova, Super-Skrull, Ronan The Accuser, and Silver Surfer.

The likes of Peter Quill, Gamora, and even Drax and Thanos, were reserved for the core six issue Annihilation series. They weren't exactly afterthoughts, but their brief appearances were littered amidst the chaos, sharing limited pages with the tie-in stars, other characters, and big villain Annihilus. Certainly a far cry from the starring line-ups of 2017!

The apparent death of Thanos in Annihilation #4 was a shocking moment. It removed one of Marvel's biggest cosmic players, drawing a line in the sand between the new Annihilation era of Marvel cosmic -- and the colourful excesses of The Infinity Gauntlet, and its subsequent sagas.

The Mad Titan had mellowed over the years, fashioned into a less malicious cosmic philosopher. His return in 2010 began a revivification of the classic villain, now one of Marvel's top bad guys thanks a 2012 post-credits teaser in the film Avengers. With a few seconds of purple sneer, Thanos was elevated to top tier status, forecasting an arrival that won't hit cinemas until May, 2018!

May 5th, 2017 will see the theatrical release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. We're getting ready for the cosmic adventure a month early, dedicating all featured fights in April to the heroes and villains of space!

We've started the action with an epic of cosmic proportions! If you'd like to read the battle and preceding issues for yourself, use the Amazon purchase link provided to get the collected edition! Doing so helps support the site at no extra cost to you!

If you want to read about more exciting cosmic battles, be sure to follow links throughout this post (or below), or dive into the Secret Archive to reference hundreds of past features by publisher, series & issue! You can also follow on Facebook and Twitter to like & share daily links inspired by the fight of the day! A galaxy of comic book combat to suit all your needs!

Winner: Star-Lord (w/ Guardians of the Galaxy)
#306 (new) Star-Lord
#352 (-44) Thanos
#140 (+32) Drax [+1 assist]
#518 (new) Groot [+1 assist]
#519 (new) Major Victory (Vance Astro) [+1 assist]
#520 (new) Rocket Raccoon [+1 assist]
#521 (new) Bug [+1 assist]
#522 (new) Mantis [+1 assist]
#523 (new) Gamora [+1 assist]
#539 (+131) Moondragon [+1 assist]
#540 (+46) Jack Flag [+1 assist]

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