"Marvel Universe: The End" (2003/01/01)
"The End" Marvel Universe: The End 1 (May 2003)
"Evolution" Marvel Universe: The End 2 (June 2003)
"Extinction!" Marvel Universe: The End 3 (June 2003)
"Contamination!" Marvel Universe: The End 4 (July 2003)
"Omnipotence" Marvel Universe: The End 5 (July 2003)
"The Cure" Marvel Universe: The End 6 (August 2003)
Reader Rating: Average
Roll Call: Amazon, Atlas/Dallas, Baron Zemo, Cyclone, The Fixer, Harrier, Hawkeye, Jolt, MACH-3, Moonstone, Skein, Songbird
Summary: Akhenaten, pharaoh of ancient Egypt, returns to Earth cosmically empowered and ready to rumble. He assumes control of the world, wiping out the X-Men and Avengers in short order. Thanos, the mad Titan, works behind Akhenaten’s back to capture the source of his power: The Heart of the Universe. With the Heart in hand, Thanos becomes “omnipotent”, and the cosmic entities of the Marvel Universe join forces to shut him down. In a fit of rage Thanos collapses the entire Universe to blackness.
Captain Marvel, The Defenders (Dr. Strange, The Hulk, Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Silver Surfer), Dr. Doom, Eternity, The Living Tribunal and Thor are significant players. Zemo's entire Counter-Earth squad and most of Hawkeye’s New Thunderbolts (less Blackheath) make cameo appearances, along with pretty much every significant hero in the M.U. (including Nighthawk).
Continuity: The Thunderbolts are whisked away to battle Thanos in the middle of the “Becoming Heroes” (2002/08/01) and “Becoming Villains”
(2002/08/02) storylines. They are killed (twice, actually). But Thanos regrets his actions (as seen in the second half of Part 6), and sacrifices his own existence to restore the M.U. The T-Bolts are returned, with no memory of the incident, to the point from
which they left. Blackheath is not present because he is still on the Crimson Cowl’s operating table.
The collapse of the Universe is caused in part by an imbalance in the natural order that was created when Simon Williams first returned from the dead. So, indirectly, Baron Heinrich Zemo is responsible for the end of the world.
Comments: Jim Starlin has no real story to tell, and he fills 130 powerfully drawn pages telling it. The plot development is choppy and frustrating. Everyone is killed in Part One, then restored in Part Four, then killed again in Part Six. Akhenaten vanishes midway through the story and his role doesn’t really make sense anyway. Thanos becomes "omnipotent" in his own mind only. There is plenty he cannot do -- like, say, head off the end of the Universe. The finale is maddeningly ironic. Thanos makes this speech: “Death will now be permanent. Never again will there be any miraculous resurrections.” Potentially a great turning point in the Marvel Universe – except that Thanos follows it by bringing everyone back to life again!
One interesting point from a Thunderbolts perspective: Thanos’ quandary at the end of Part 6 very nearly parallels Techno’s position in “Heroic Tendencies” (2001/02/01). As he contemplates sacrificing himself to restore the Universe, Thanos could very well be asking himself “What would a hero do? What would a Thunderbolt do?”
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This page was revised on December 17, 2004
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