Cosmic Powers #1-6
Issue(s): Cosmic Powers #1, Cosmic Powers #2, Cosmic Powers #3, Cosmic Powers #4, Cosmic Powers #5, Cosmic Powers #6
In lieu of another mega Infinity crossover, in 1994 Marvel's cosmic editorial office puts out a much quieter, but very fun, six issue miniseries with no tie-ins. The book stars Thanos but it builds very much on continuity established by the writer Ron Marz's past works, including the Silver Surfer story that introduced Tyrant and a concurrently published Secret Defenders arc. Some of the characters involved (Morg, Tyrant, Ganymede, and even Jack of Hearts) aren't very compelling, but they work really well for this story.
As we saw in the Secret Defenders arc, Thanos has acquired a robot oracle. He's now analyzing the robot's repository of data because he's searching for a challenge. He's basically been trying to keep busy ever since the loss of his godlike abilities in Infinity Gauntlet. Via the oracle, he learns about Tyrant and decides that he'll make a worthy challenge. To get more info on Tyrant, he decides he needs to seek out someone that has faced him before. He reviews the list of characters that fought Tyrant in his debut appearance, and settles on Terrax.
I didn't include any scans for the above summary of issue #1 because it consists mainly of Thanos slaughtering some random warriors in a demonstration of how he's been trying to keep busy, and then a virtual reality sequence of Thanos penetrating the oracle's defenses.
The rest of the issue is Thanos self-narrating or giving orders to his robot servants. But the issue is nicely illustrated by Lim. The series in general is definitely more sparse, artwise, especially if you are comparing it to the Infinity crossovers (which you don't have to, ofc, but i find myself doing so). That means it's a quicker read but not in a bad way; it allows for a lot more focus on the featured characters.
Each issue of the series is nominally focused on a single character. That becomes less so with the later issues as the plot gets cooking, but in the early issues especially they are practically solo stories. So while issue #1 ended with Thanos deciding to go and recruit Terrax, #2 is mostly a solo Terrax story with Thanos not approaching him until the end. In the issue, Terrax has signed himself up for a gladiator contest, with a promised prize of a "precious, one of a kind treasure". Terrax is definitely slumming it, easily winning the contest (although it's nice to see him actually using his earth-based powers)...
...but the prize turns out to be a beautiful woman, which Terrax doesn't have any interest in. It struck me as a major fall from grace for Terrax to be contesting in gladiator matches for prizes, but that's actually a point addressed in the story.
Terrax defends his "prize" in a bar fight and then takes her home for a promised meager reward. But it turns out that the woman is engaged in an elaborate trap - she lures men home so that they can be robbed by her allies (the fact that she got captured as a gladiator prize was a coincidence but it actually just helped her cover story).
After Terrax kills the woman and her brothers, Thanos approaches him.
Terrax tells Thanos about the way Tyrant drains the energy of his captives into containment units. But he also suggests that they seek out Ganymede, since she's the last survivor of an order (the "Spinsterhood") that was dedicated to fighting Tyrant.
The Jack of Hearts and Ganymede issue shows Jack trying to deal with his attraction to Ganymede in the face of her lack of reciprocation (she's too dedicated to stopping Tyrant). The first several pages are a dream sequence with Jack making out with Ganymede. In real life, Jack is accompanying Ganymede to a "Jovian moon" (i guess... Ganymede?), which once contained a Spinster shrine to see if anyone else from her order has survived.
They navigate their way past a robot defender and confirm that the colony has been abandoned. Meanwhile, Thanos and Terrax, who have been trailing them, blow up their ship and follow. They fight and destroy the robot and catch up with Jack and Ganymede.
There's an ongoing tension between Thanos and Terrax as Thanos defaults to treating Terrax like a lackey but then playing along with the idea that they are partners when Terrax calls him on it.
Thanos only wants Ganymede, not Jack of Hearts. But in characteristic "sowing the seeds of his own defeat" mode, Thanos decides to just leave Jack behind instead of killing him. I guess since this whole quest is just a way for Thanos to challenge himself, that's not such a big deal. Along those same lines, i guess it's why Thanos didn't simply ask Ganymede for help with the guy that she's dedicated to destroying.
The next issue features Legacy, who has been studying his father's history and is kicking himself for letting Nitro get away from him in the Secret Defenders story. He wants to go after Nitro, but his mom doesn't think it's a good idea. She sends him to Starfox, who tries to use his powers to stop Legacy from leaving Titan.
So much for "I use my special power on enemies, never on friends" (cf Avengers #256). In any event, Legacy resists the charm.
Mentor tells Starfox to let Legacy go, saying that Legacy needs to be allowed to develop experience.
Legacy traces Nitro's trail to the Kree homeworld of Hala (where he was presumably trying to reconnect with the Lunatic Legion?). Nitro was apparently unaware that Hala is in ruins thanks to Operation: Galactic Storm.
Legacy gets blasted around by Nitro pretty badly...
...but Legacy perseveres and eventually gets the upper hand.
Legacy intends to kill Nitro. However, their fight takes them into a museum of sorts, and Legacy sees a quote of his father's.
Captain Marvel was mostly considered a traitor to his people, and even if they did decide to honor him, that's a very un-Kree-like quote to use. But Nitro's lucky that it's there. Legacy stays his hand and brings Nitro back to Titan for imprisonment.
You'll note that this issue has even less to do with the overall story than the Ganymede portion, which at least had Terrax and Thanos trailing her and Jack of Hearts. The connection comes at the end. When Legacy returns to Titan, he finds that Jack has gone there for help. Starfox volunteers to help, but Legacy says that he should go instead, arguing that he's an unknown quantity to Thanos and therefore a more strategic pick. Mentor agrees.
The next issue's star is Morg, who is a prisoner of Tyrant.
Art here is by Tom Grindberg, but it's very restrained compared to his stylized work elsewhere at this time (including the Secret Defenders prequel).
Tyrant spends a good portion of the issue trying to convince Morg to betray Galactus and join him, but it's to no avail.
I imagine Tyrant's dental floss makes the way he speaks very offputting. I wouldn't join up with a guy who was inevitably slurping all the time. Or maybe those wires are actually tubes that drain all the saliva away, like in a dentist's office.
Meanwhile, Thanos and Terrax have been interrogating Ganymede in vague terms and haven't been getting anywhere, but they finally just stumble upon the idea of simply asking her about Tyrant, and she's happy to help.
Thanos, Terrax, and Ganymede arrive at Tyrant's fortress, and Tyrant gives up on trying to convince Morg and just brainwashes him.
He also restores his power cosmic.
Thanos really has not been keeping up with his Silver Surfer comics. He needed that Oracle robot to learn about Tyrant, and he needs Ganymede to tell him about Morg.
Ganymede never really gets a good showing. She gets knocked around a lot.
Ron Marz created Ganymede and has been selling her as someone dedicated to stopping Tyrant, and yet she can't even handle Tyrant's mind-controlled (although admittedly cosmic-powered) lackey. But i guess that fits with the upcoming revelation.
Terrax initially loses his axe to Morg, but redeems himself by winning the fight after Thanos gets his axe back. Terrax destroys Tyrant's mind control device.
Legacy and Jack of Hearts show up but find that Ganymede doesn't need rescuing. Jack is stunned that Ganymede is willing to ally herself with Thanos, as if she hadn't been telling him who she was the whole time they were together. Morg is not interested in sticking around to fight Tyrant, so he leaves to return to Galactus.
At this point Tyrant's mouth-wires are just covered in saliva ropes. Gross, dude.
As Tyrant confronts the group...
...Thanos disappears. He accesses Tyrant's computers, learning Tyrant's history and locating the containment device where Tyrant stores the energy he drained from Morg.
The rest of the group is getting slaughtered when Thanos returns. Thanos reveals that Ganymede's Spinsterhood were never responsible for driving Tyrant away back in the ancient past. That was actually done by Galactus.
He also reveals that Tyrant was created by Galactus, but Tyrant rebelled.
It seems Galactus has been having trouble with heralds from the very beginning.
Thanos refuses to share any more information with Ganymede, including the info on how to beat him. Ganymede attacks Thanos, but he knocks her out. Terrax feels betrayed by Thanos since he left during the fight, and he convinces the others to leave. So Thanos fights Tyrant alone.
Despite having the containment device, Thanos does not have the upper hand during the fight.
But the fight ends in stalemate, and Thanos keeps the device.
Thanos acts like he's won, or at least humbled Tyrant. But it turns out that Tyrant has an even bigger containment device.
As i said at the top, Morg, Tyrant, and Ganymede aren't the most interesting characters. Revealing that Tyrant was a kind of herald of Galactus' (and a pre-Silver Surfer one at that) just adds to an ever increasing list of heralds. And it's kind of surprising to see Marz undermine Ganymede by revealing that her reason for existing was a lie. But you don't need to take Morg, Tyrant, or Ganymede seriously to enjoy Thanos going on a quest to fight some random all-powerful being just for the challenge of it. That is a lot of fun, and this series succeeds almost despite the cast of characters.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Secret Defenders #14-16.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showCaptain Marvel (Genis-vell), Elysius, Ganymede, ISAAC, Jack of Hearts, Mentor, Morg, Nitro, Oracle of Ancient Knowledge, Starfox, Terrax, Thanos, Tyrant
"So much for "I use my special power on enemies, never on friends""- I'm defending Starfox here. Genis was clearly planning on killing Nitro without trial, not turning him over to the authorities on Earth and hoping he gets the death penalty. Eros was totally justified in using his abilities to stop that from happening.
Posted by: Michael | October 5, 2017 8:27 PM
Agreed. And Genis wasn't exactly Eros' "friend" at this point either--he was a cocky and arrogant punk, who Eros was a sort-of father figure to. Eros trying to use his powers to restrain his super-powered 'nephew' is the Eternal equivalent of trying to ground an unruly teenager.
Posted by: Dermie | October 5, 2017 11:02 PM
With regards to Eros/Genis, I would take into consideration that Quasar #59 was meant to be a Genis story which didn't get printed until Marz rewrote it to swap Genis out for Quasar. That original story would have smoothed that Genis/Eros relationship out a tad (as well as give us the important Genis-meets-his-father's-worst-enemy-Thanos scene we don't get here). I get the feeling Ron Marz felt he had done that story regardless if it wasn't published.
Posted by: AF | October 6, 2017 8:37 AM
I wonder if it's even possible to kill Nitro.
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 6, 2017 1:21 PM
I took the significance of that last panel to be that Tyrant not only has a bigger containment unit, he has thousands more of them. (Of course, this is pretty similar to the end of Infinity War, where there are multiple cosmic “cubes” in circulation.)
This was a fun story, probably the best thing Marz has done to this point. Unfortunately, it’s probably the best thing Mary does for Marvel beyond this point, too.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 8, 2017 11:13 AM
Too bad the final page didn't have Tyrant bragging "Mine's bigger." :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | October 8, 2017 8:26 PM
I think Ron Marz is One of the very few Marvel writers Who gets Thanos right after Jim Starlin.
I liked this miniseries despite the nineties cheese, especially the Dragonball style fight between Thanos and Tyrants.
Posted by: CaptainMar-Vell92 | October 27, 2017 1:58 PM
I have to admit that I enjoyed this series more than I thought I would. Maybe that has to do with just having finished Infinity Watch and being a little disappointed in the second half.
Posted by: Multiple Manu | January 4, 2018 5:07 AM
And I like the ending with Thanos only thinking he won and Tyrant having not just one more power cell but a whole truckload of it.
Posted by: Multiple Manu | January 4, 2018 5:13 AM
Galactus creating Tyrant in his own image would also explain why he is stronger than the heralds and why he would need to siphon off power from outside sources like Galactus himself.
Posted by: Multiple Manu | January 4, 2018 5:29 AM
Manu: Yes, Tyrant appears again in a few issues of Silver Surfer in 1995.
Posted by: Dave77 | January 15, 2018 8:38 PM
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