(Editor's Note: Cosmic Book News continues its coverage of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie with a look at Drax the Destroyer!)
Guardians of the Galaxy movie: The once and future Drax the Destroyer
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, as have most of Starlin’s Titan-based creations, the greatest one – Thanos – now heating up the fanboy internet chatrooms as proposed villain in both the coming Guardians of the Galaxy movie as well as the sequel to the blockbuster The Avengers film.
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 was at the time certainly 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.
After my comics sabbatical, this is where I first encountered 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 later Peter Quill. Although he succeeded in fulfilling his life’s mission (again) by punching a hole through the heart of the mad Titan, killing him, he has not wanted for things to do as before. He has come to see himself as a mentor to young heroes like Nova and members of Quill’s Guardians of the Galaxy.
With this “new” body of sharp intellect but little cosmic power, Drax once again clad himself in the garb of the original Destroyer (with a big Secret Invasion Nick Fury gun or three for good measure). As Drax and the Guardians watch over the newly-resurrected and imprisoned Thanos and Nova pursues a false Quasar, the Magus and his Universal Church of Truth tear open the Fault (opened at the end of War of Kings and previously sealed by Warlock). Monstrous creatures emerge from the Fault and are confronted by the Kree and Shi’ar armadas and numerous cosmic beings. Among them is their leader, Lord Mar-Vell, who is an alternate version of Captain Marvel. Mar-Vell seemingly kills the Magus for failing to locate Thanos.
Mar-Vell is the avatar of Life, and Thanos is the avatar of Death. Because of this, the battle will only be over when one of them kills the other. While Star-Lord leads Drax and the other Guardians (and Thanos!) into the Fault hoping to locate Lord Mar-Vell, Lord Mar-Vell scours the Marvel Universe for Thanos.
Meanwhile, Nova leads Quasar, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator, the Silver Surfer and Ronan the Accuser in an attack on Mar-Vell, but loses badly. When Thanos kills Drax, his death as the avatar of life alerts Mar-Vell to his presence and he returns to the Cancerverse.
We all know how that ended. What we do not know is how Drax (now returned to his knife-throwing physique) has come back with Peter Quill and some members of the Guardians to aid the Avengers against a reborn Thanos.
That, as they say, is another story – hopefully one told in or before the coming of a Guardians of the Galaxy movie in 2014!