Issue(s): Quasar #54
But Gladiator stays hidden for now. He returns to the Shi'ar spaceship and reports to an unnamed Shi'ar chancellor (who i am listing as Aroke; see the Considerations on Avengers #362-366) about the Watcher's abduction.
Quasar contacts Epoch and asks him to re-contact the people that helped him earlier, some of whom are still making their way home from the moon.
Note the scene with Warlock and Pip, which shows us that the events here are going on at the same time as Blood and Thunder.
Some other characters receive the message as well.
The characters gather on a quantum disc that Quasar creates. Quasar is contacted by Moondragon telepathically and is told that the Infinity Watch, the Silver Surfer, and Thor won't be able to get involved with Quasar's situation. Quasar tells the rest of the heroes about the abductions of Kayla (or, at least, "an Earth woman possessing a cosmic power from another universe") and the Watcher. The gathered characters agree to help Quasar, and Quasar seals up the disc into a dome and takes them into deep space.
Two characters that don't make it in time are Nova and Phoenix, and they agree to not tell the others that they didn't try too hard to catch up.
It's weird how Gruenwald seems to be showing a romantic interest between two characters that he doesn't normally write. Nothing comes of this.
Even slower than Nova and Phoenix are the Vision and... let's say the Black Knight?
Eventually Quasar's group detects a spaceship. Quasar suppresses an urge to leave the group and investigate himself, deciding that it wouldn't be very "team leader-like", so he has Darkstar teleport himself and Vanguard over to investigate. After they leave, Binary detects a human-sized object approaching the dome, and Captain Marvel, apparently playing the deputy leader role, sends Hyperion out to intercept it. We're reminded a few times in this issue that Hyperion is unfamiliar with this dimension and the characters that reside in it.
So there's no chance he's going to recognize Gladiator, which is who is approaching.
And so we have a battle between two Superman analogues.
Really, Hyperion? Hair pulling?
It doesn't even work, and in that squeeze above, Hyperion is knocked out (we'll actually learn that his neck was broken). Gladiator then scans the dome with his x-ray vision, but sees that it's empty. So he grabs Hyperion and takes him back to the Shi'ar ship, which, it turns out, has been taken over by the heroes.
And that's the end of the issue, aside from a final page reminding us about the villains. It's also said that the Watcher could actually escape if he wanted to.
This is Gruenwald at his best. A motley group of minor characters. A "hey look, they're both Supermans!" fight that is actually delivers on its promise (much better than, say, Thor #280). And... well, that's it, really, but it's a good start.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is part two of Starblast. Part three is in Secret Defenders #11. This has to take place after Warlock is aware of the problem with Thor, and the MCP therefore places this in the middle of Warlock Chronicles #6. Warlock's scene causes this entire crossover to intertwine with Blood and Thunder. Warlock and Pip are basically deciding which crossover to appear in here, and they opt for Blood and Thunder. Since Warlock also appears in part one of Starblast (in Starblast #1), that means that the early part of Blood and Thunder must take place either concurrently with or after Starblast #1. Concurrently is more likely. It's possible that Quasar spent some time searching for Kayla Ballantine through other means before going to the Watcher for help (Epoch says that Quasar told him to search for Kayla an "hour" ago, but Quasar might not have given him that order right away), but there's also the fact that several heroes are still making their way home from the moon. Granted, they don't fly at lightspeed, but i assume characters like Captain Marvel and Hyperion can fly pretty quickly. So most likely Blood and Thunder starts a little before Starblast #1, and maybe continues until a little afterwards. I think it reads better to place the early part of Blood and Thunder after Starblast #1, and then pause for this issue, and then continue with Blood and Thunder the rest of the way though.
It doesn't seem like the fact that Thunderstrike is fighting a demon in Manhattan is meant to reference anything specific.
Now, the big question is how to handle the fact that Starblast part 3, Secret Defenders #11, takes place after Siege of Darkness (or at least most of it), which takes place after the end of Blood and Thunder, even though the early part of Blood and Thunder takes place prior to/concurrently with this issue. I'll tackle that on the Secret Defenders #11 entry, but one thing to note here is that it's possible that a lot of time passes while Quasar takes the heroes out into space. A point will be made that Quasar's speed while dragging the heroes isn't optimal, which is why they commandeer the Shi'ar ship. So it may very well be that a lot of time passes during this issue, allowing the rest of B&T and some of Siege to occur. But, still, more to say on the Secret Defenders #11 entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAdam Warlock, Aroke, Black Bolt, Black Knight (Dane Whitman), Black Widow, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Carol Danvers, Darkstar, Doctor Spectrum, Epoch, Gladiator (Shiar), Hyperion, Ikaris, Insidio, Kayla Ballantine, Lockjaw, Meggan, Moondragon, Nightcrawler, Nova (Rich Rider), Perun, Pip the Troll, Quasar, Rachel Summers, Skeletron, Thunderstrike, Uatu the Watcher, Vanguard, Vision, Vostok, Whizzer (Squadron Supreme)
Another example of Gruenwald not paying attention to continuity- Meggan is clearly shown to be awake during this story when she's catatonic and doesn't completely return to normal until Excalibur 75, at which time Rachel is sent into the future. At the MCP, we decided that Meggan recovered and suffered a relapse.
Posted by: Michael | March 27, 2017 8:57 PM
Gruenwald really couldnt have gotten Joe Madureira or the like to guest-pencil this issue? That Hyperion/Gladiator battle should have been EPIC.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | March 28, 2017 2:14 AM
This series ends with #60, which has a surprising amount of spotlight on Nova.
Since I have just learned in the review of Starblast #1 that there was an intention of spinning off a new cosmic series from this crossover, I assume that Nova was supposed to be featured in it as well (a logical choice at a time when the Nova Corps had just been reestablished) and his scenes in the last few issues of Quasar are a remnant of the attempt to spotlight this new series.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 28, 2017 7:43 AM
In the essay he writes about the troubled production of Starmasters, Gruenwald says one of the reasons the series got rejected was that Marvel decided/realized that the Silver Surfer wasn't hot enough anymore and he was no longer a sales draw. (the other reasons being the bad will from Starblast and a Starjammers series)
He doesn't really mention anything to suggest the team was ever anything too radically different from what we got. One member he did want on the team was Cloud from Defenders but that didn't happen.
Posted by: AF | March 28, 2017 8:14 AM
Science nitpick: sound is vibrations traveling through matter. Human (and most alien) bodies are such matter. One would certainly hear their own neck broken, if conscious long enough.
Posted by: Catherine | April 27, 2017 10:52 AM
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