WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS up to Thanos #16
When Marvel's Universe finally dies at the end of time, only the Silver Surfer will be worthy of Mjolnir. The extinction of Marvel's entire universe may seem like a big deal, but in the pages of THANOS it's just the backstory. In the villain's current comic arc, the villain's success at killing everyone - every human, every god, every cosmic entity, and even Galactus - who would stand against him has all been leading to one final fight. A fight that he's so unsure he can win, he needs to pull the Thanos of Marvel's current world forward through time to back him up.
In the final pages of Thanos #16, his ultimate opponent is revealed to be none other than Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer. So, why did the former herald of Galactus allow universal murder spread acorss millennia, if he was capable of putting up that much of a fight? Because as Thanos wiped out the Marvel gods who lined up to stop him, Silver Surfer was busy becoming "worthy."
Worthy of Mjolnir, and with it, the power of Thor. Making him the last God of Thunder at the end of it all.
Those who have been reading Thanos know that the former Avengers villain does have SOME company with him in an otherwise dead universe, alone in his tower at the end of creation. The exact reason why Death was still unmoved by Thanos' offering isn't clear (it really never is), but that's a story for another day. For now, the focus is the last great battle of the Marvel Universe. On one side, the Silver Surfer and the Hammer of Thor. On the other, two versions of Thanos separated by millennia, and the Ghost Rider who used to be Punisher.
It's... been a busy few issues.
When pulled into the future by an older, greyer, softer, but no less arrogant version of himself, Thanos is as clueless as the readers as to the meaning of it all. The older Thanos shows why he remains the King of the Universe, winning his younger self's respect partly due to his undiminished strength - and partly due to Thanos' amusement. The old conqueror had spoken before about a coming battle, but only in Issue #16 does the time for the final showdown arrive. A fight between the Thanoses and 'The Fallen One.'
The younger Thanos assumes that his older self is still referring to the Fallen One that he is familiar with: the first Herald of Galactus who Thanos had beaten easily in the past. But as the forces of the Annihilation Horde, an insectoid army from the Negative Zone arrive through the fabric of space and dimension, the truth comes out.
The 'Fallen One' is now used as a title, not a name. It's applied to Norrin Radd, and readers are left to wonder (for now, at least) how much the Silver Surfer has endured after seeing Galactus killed by Thanos (having been replaced by Ghost Rider as Herald of Galactus). Thankfully, any concerns that Silver Surfer's black complexion was a sign of evil are quickly dismissed. He may now lead the Annihilation Wave... but that's not what's been keeping him busy.
The plot of Thanos has been rumbling for some time as the conclusion to this arc slowly approached. In Issue #16 the rumblings become literal, as Silver Surfer arrives to call upon Mjolnir. And as the hammer once wielded by Thor a million years earlier arrives, and lightning surrounds the Silver Surfer, even the younger Thanos realizes this fight is going to get ugly.
It would seem that even after Asgard's death, along with the rest of the Marvel Universe's civilizations and superpowers, their magic remains. It's always a thrill to see a new Thor crowned in Marvel Comics, and seeing Norrin Radd become the last incarnation (we hope, given who else is left) is a satisfying twist on the far-off future of the MU.
Now, let's strap in for the fight.
THANOS #16 is available now from Marvel Comics.