When we finally saw the creation of Jim Starlin’s Drax the Destroyer, rising zombie-like from the ground beneath the ethereal visage of Kronos, imbued with the soul of the dead Earth man known as Arthur Douglas, I wasn’t sure if I was still reading a comic book space opus or one of Marvel’s monster books that were then so popular.
Eerie as his creation was, Drax has certainly stood the test of time, soon to be played by former WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dave Batista as part of the rag-tag heroes who will be swashbuckling their way to the big screen in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy on August 1.
Drax, as he first started out, would be what we call today a cosmic heavy-hitter. He was as strong as a calm Hulk, it was said, and able to fly through space unaided and fire blasts of cosmic energy from his arms. In his purple skull cap and cape, he was right at home with Captain Marvel in the first Thanos War … and later by himself among the denizens of deep space. His prime objective was always the primary reason Kronos and Mentor brought him into being: Destroy the mad Titan. Kill Thanos!
Drax is initially able to do this – kill Thanos – albeit with the aid of the Avengers and Mar-Vell of the Kree. With no life’s purpose anymore, the Destroyer first chooses to battle Mar-Vell for taking away that reason to exist and then becomes the pawn (a role that will become familiar in his future) to his own daughter, Heather (Moondragon).
Eventually freed by the Avengers of his daughter’s mental domination, Drax advances toward her in an effort to end her menace, an evil for which he blames himself. But Moondragon forces the life essence of Arthur Douglas to flee the indestructible body of the Destroyer. Later, after subduing Moondragon and returning to Earth, the Avengers place Drax’s body inside Moondragon’s ship, The Sensia, and send it into deep space programmed to self-destruct. Without Douglas’ spirit inside it, Drax’s body is destroyed when The Sensia explodes.
Years later, when Thanos is revived by the Lady Death, Kronos reanimates Drax on Titan, only with greater physical power. Kronos does not consider the effects of Drax’s death and the Destroyer’s mind retains the damage done by Moondragon. Alongside a multitude of other heroes, Drax helps battle Thanos and Nebula for possession of the Infinity Gauntlet. Despite the setback of the damage taken from his death (and following Thanos’ defeat and the subsequent breakup of the Gauntlet), Drax is chosen by Adam Warlock to safeguard the Power Gem as part of the Infinity Watch.
I never got a chance to witness this chapter of Drax’s existence and the amount of material about our cosmic champions since the advent of Annihilation has certainly been a godsend to those who may have taken a break from comics around this time (for me, a full decade).
It seems that following an incident in which the creature Syphon manipulates Drax (he is blamed for the murders of Elysius and others and later cleared by Warlock and Genis-Vell), the Destroyer’s condition begins to change. His mass and strength climb to monstrous levels (barely recognizable as Starlin’s character) and his mind becomes clouded. Finally, he seeks out Moondragon (again?) which leads to an altercation with Genis-Vell. Drax winds up being transported to the Microverse and finds acceptance and happiness for a time on Jarella’s home planet of K’ai.
With both his power and intelligence in flux, Drax is later seen on a prison transport ship that has crashed on Earth. He becomes involved with a human named Cammi whom he mistakes for Heather. As he slowly wanders through the countryside at a low level of intelligence, he again encounters one of the ship’s other prisoners, Paibok, who ruthlessly murders the Destroyer. Drax emerges with a new body, a higher degree of intelligence and lessened strength than that of his former self. This new Drax kills two other prisoners (Lunatik and one of the Blood Brothers) and ends up back on a prison ship with Cammi.
This is where I first encounter Drax and all the other cosmic champions of Annihilation and Annihilation: Conquest. A man of intellect, battle savvy and wielding knives, this Wolverine-esque Drax is who has been accompanying first Nova and then Peter Quill.
Oh, he died for a time in the Cancerverse, but is now mysteriously back (as is Quill, who also reportedly bit the dust there) battling in the Guardians’ monthly mag. How Dave Batista portrays this complex character is something I as a Marvel Cosmic and movie maven am anxious to see!
The film “Guardians of the Galaxy” opens in theatres August 1st!