Issue(s): Starblast #4
It turns out that Skeletron has let all the other Starblasters except Fabrikant die. He wants to conquer the New Universe Earth to create a place for robots to live. (Where's Die-Cut when you need him?) It also turns out that he was behind the Black Fleet, a storyline that goes all the way back to the Questprobe series (which of course was picked up in Quasar circa Quasar #38).
The way Skeletron has to handwave the fact that organic life forms were seen with the Black Fleet makes this revelation feel like a not very smooth retcon.
Meanwhile, the members of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard that stuck with Quasar because they wanted vengeance on the Stranger go to confront him but wind up getting enslaved again.
Stranger then goes to the other heroes. He heals the injured members and also makes what seem like a pair of pretty big changes. He restores Binary's fragmented psyche and he gives Captain Marvel the ability to transform into energy forms again.
This is a major milestone for Carol Danvers. This is where Carol gets her pre-Rogue memories back, or rather her emotional connection to them (Xavier gave her back her actual memories at the end of Avengers annual #10). For Monica Rambeau, it's more like we're catching her back up to how uncareful artists have been depicting her since her power change anyway, but it still seems like a big deal. I had never seen this series cited for this development for either character, and i was wondering if i over-interpreted the scene when i first saw it (also since it comes out of nowhere and there's no follow-up here). But Quasar #57 will confirm these developments.
All these characters go to fight Skeletron, who it turns out is much bigger than we realized. His ship is actually him.
The heroes also have to fight the New Universe characters, who are confused about who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
Skeletron is drawing power from the Starbrand energy of New Universe Earth. So the Stranger makes it go away.
The effort tires the Stranger though, and he has to teleport himself away after that. He returns back to our universe with Skeletron on his heels. The Stranger then relaxes his hold on his own Starbrand. And in a very abrupt ending, Skeletron is locked back in the New Universe, while the New Universe Earth is now in our universe. The end!
Obviously this is not the end and the resolution is really in the next couple issues of Quasar, which aren't even branded as part of Starblast. But my god, what a crazy abrupt way to end this miniseries and the formal part of the crossover. Luckily anyone reading this would already have been reading Quasar - especially the way this crossover was structured - so probably no one missed anything.
As is often the case, if i remove my anti-New Universe bias and my Shi'ar Imperial Guard bias from the equation, this was a decent enough plot that Gruenwald just could not execute on. The idea of a group of obscure alien races teaming up and fighting some of Marvel's lesser known cosmic (and other) characters should have been quite fun. And parts of it were fun. But for the most part is was all very cluttered. No characterization. A disaster of a resolution. And of course the art and production problems did not help, and the structure of the crossover did not help.
So much of Mark Gruenwald's works is premised on the idea that readers will find it satisfying to just see some character that they may like. Things are rarely done with the characters. They get very little panel time. But we're supposed to be happy just to see them. I don't know if the Scourge storyline can be considered the start of it, but it's been increasingly the case that Gruenwald stories have involved huge casts of characters based on some arbitrary categorization. The heroes with Quasar in this story at least get a little screentime, but not enough that i consider it sufficient. And it gets much worse with the other groups here: the massive number of Shi'ar Imperial Guards, the obscure alien races, and now the New Universe characters. I don't know if any New Universe fans are willing to speak up, but i can't imagine that seeing the characters in this story did anything for them. Because they don't do anything. They're just there. As for me, i didn't want to see the New Universe characters in the Marvel universe anyway, and to see them just milling about here with no purpose is therefore doubly annoying. Certainly nothing here makes me want to see more of the New Universe characters, if that was the hope.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This is the final part of Starblast but the story continues more or less directly in Quasar #57.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAll-American, Black Bolt, Captain Manhattan, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Carol Danvers, Chrome (New Universe), Fabrikant, Ikaris, Justice (New Universe), Kayla Ballantine, Lockjaw, Metallurgist, Moondancer, Nightmask, Overshadow, Perun, Pit Bull, Psi-Hawk, Quasar, Skeletron, Solar Wind, Stranger, Uatu the Watcher, Voyager
Boy Skeletron seems like a total rip-off of the 80s Braniac revamp - skeletal robot and his skull-head ship is actually part of him
Posted by: S | March 27, 2017 9:43 PM
Given Gruenwald's love of D.C., it's probably a deliberate homage. Good catch.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | March 27, 2017 10:18 PM
"I had never seen this series cited for this development for either character"
Posted by: Michael | March 28, 2017 12:17 AM
I guess it's appropriate that Gruenwald should be the one to finally restore Monica Rambeau's full powers, since it was at his directive that she was originally made incompetent, de-powered and almost died, all so Captain America could once again lead the Avengers.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 28, 2017 7:56 PM
Posted by: AF | March 29, 2017 8:19 AM
"It turns out that Skeletron has let all the other Starblasters except Fabrikant die"- except that a few of them appear in Maximum Security.
Posted by: Michael | April 2, 2017 7:04 PM
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