Warning: SPOILERS for Guardians of the Galaxy #9
The true savior of Marvel's entire universe has been revealed, and reborn for his new, holy mission. But the bigger revelation is that this cosmic messiah is best known as a member of the outlaw Guardians of the Galaxy. The even bigger surprise? It's the dead one.
Before any fans start celebrating the resurrection of a lost Marvel hero, the story being told in the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy is a bit more complicated than a simple return from the grave. That's due to the earlier return of Star-Lord's father, having given up his role as a cosmic king for a more devoted purpose. As the new head of the villainous Universal Church of Truth, Star-Lord's father is preparing for the apocalypse only true believers have seen coming. And the one alien warrior capable of stopping it... as long as it doesn't use metaphors.
The Savior of Marvel's Universe is Born...
The version of Star-Lord's father introduced in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies will be the most widely known, but in the comics he's always been the relatively normal (but equally absent) J'son of Spartax. Until recently, the rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy operated without many ties outside the team, especially after Gamora returned for romance with Star-Lord, leaving their complicated past behind them. But when a surprise distress signal came in showing J'son in need, the Guardians united behind their leader to save the day. Sadly, they instead found Star-Lord's father an indoctrinated fanatic.
At first glance, it appears that the Universal Church of Truth operates as purely brainwashing and mind control--as evidenced by the glowing purple eyes of those who have been made to see the future, and thus "found their faith." Since J'son--or as he's called now, Patriarch--held off converting his own son, readers were as shocked as Peter to see his father crowning the cosmic messiah, still gestating inside Adam Warlock's classic cocoon. But in the new Guardians of the Galaxy #9 it's confirmed that the Church isn't resurrecting Adam Warlock, as is so often the case. This time around they don't need a perfect creation. They need a Destroyer.
Drax The Destroyer, Back From The Dead
It's a twist that no reader will ever see coming, as the Warlock cocoon is smashed open before Star-Lord's eyes to reveal the Universal Church of Truth's true savior: Drax the Destroyer, the most well known muscle of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Well, formerly the most well known, before his death... ironically giving his life to save the universe the last time it stood on the brink of destruction. The death of Drax in Marvel's Infinity Wars was what began the rift that ended the Guardians as fans new them. So how will they react now that he's returned?
Readers should also acknowledge that this mysterious, doomed future shown to the Universal Church of Truth members is also seen by Peter Quill in Issue #9. The universe burning, Earth devoid of life, oceans turned to blood, and Death herself standing on the bones of the planet. It isn't clear just how the Church plans to prevent that future, but resurrecting an almost un-killable warrior like the original Drax gives them plenty of options. Unless Star-Lord steps in to foil the plan, and manage to rescue his now newly restored friend. That is, if this is even the Drax he lost...
The Destroyer is Reborn (But is it Drax?)
The question is more complex than MCU fans will realize, since the movies chose NOT to adapt the comic origins of Drax the Destroyer. To make a long story short, Thanos senselessly murdered a human named Arthur Douglas along with his wife and daughter. At which point cosmic beings who wished Thanos dead intervened, placing the father's spirit into that of The Destroyer--a big, strong, green, warrior's body. Over the years those two souls intertwined, forming the character Guardians fans know as Drax. But in the aforementioned Infinity Wars comic event, the two men were separated by the Soul Stone. Both chose to sacrifice themselves to save the universe, and to accept their afterlife inside the same Infinity Stone.
The final chapter of the event saw Adam Warlock commune with the souls of both Arthur Douglas and Drax in Infinity Wars: Fallen Guardian. Since Star-Lord and Groot both want to know what happened to their teammate, Adam tells them that he offered to return both halves of Drax--the Destroyer, and Arthur--to the realm of the living. Having spent his life as a cosmic killer, Arthur's spirit desired to rest in the paradise offered inside of the Soul Stone (reuniting with his wife and daughter). Adam Warlock then confirms that Drax, along with Arthur, decided that it would be better to give his soul its rest than continue on as a living weapon. To instead wage an endless afterlife of combat that he knows isn't actually wreaking havoc across the stars. Which makes this revelation regarding the Universal Church of Truth seem like a tragedy, instead of a lost friend returning to life.
It's unclear what the next chapter of this story will hold, or if the being is merely Drax the Destroyer in physical form, but intentionally made to be an empty vessel. Will the soul of Drax be drawn back into the body, giving fans back one of their favorite Guardians? Or will the soul refuse? Would it even be the same Drax without Arthur Douglas, as well? These questions will likely be answered when Guardians of the Galaxy #10 arrives in October, but for now readers can find the full credits and plot synopsis for Issue #9 below:
- Guardians of the Galaxy #9
- Written by: Donny Cates
- Art by: Cory Smith, Victor Olazaba, David Curiel
- Cover Art by: Patch Zircher, Dean White
- The Guardians have been torn asunder by the Universal Church of Truth! After revealing his secret, Rocket has come out of hiding to help rescue his former team…but will Groot be able to forgive him long enough to save their friends… …or is this the end of the Guardians?!
Guardians of the Galaxy #9 is available now from your local comic book shop, or direct from Marvel Comics.