I don't know which is better, Peter Parker dreaming of a space ark surrounded by smaller ships . . .
or Jim Starlin's reference to sleep and I quote: "Usually your sleep is the total surrender of the bone weary". You know what? That is right. It's when you just fall on your bed and not even a second, not one second passes - and your asleep. I love thet kind of sleep.
Peter is dreaming of things that really happened. The Avengers fighting in the depths of space.
I'm jacked at the sight of the Beast. Hank McCoy is one of my two all-time favorites (the other one is orange, made of rocks, and keeps referring to his aunt).
Okay, so back to the dream. It's actually a recap of Avengers Annual no. 7 and details their fight against Thanos.
And the destruction of the Star Gem.
The Star Gem is the combined Infinity Gems minus the Soul Gem which is in the possession of Adam Warlock.
Ah, a simpler time when the Infinity Gems were the ultimate power. In a way they still are but recent events in the Marvel universe reveal the limitations of the Infinity Gems. Or I should really say, recent events in the Marvel multiverse.
In a multiverse comprised of an infinite number of universes each universe has its own set of Infinity Gems. The Infinity Gems of a universe can only affect that universe and not the universe next door or any of the others. This points to the possible existence of even more powerful objects - multiversal power objects.
So Peter's dream morphs into Avengers Annual 7 then transforms into a distress call from Mooondragon to Spider-Man as Peter wakes from slumber. Really? Spider-Man. A cosmic powered distress call to a street hero?
Spider-Man may be more of a local hero in his world but in our world he's Marvel's big gun. During the days when this comicbook was published, the late seventies, the Thing was right up there as a top-tier Marvel hero. Ben's star has dimmed significantly since then but he was big. So Spider-Man and the Thing, that's a pairing of two best-selling heroes - a fitting pair for an annual such as this.
Here is Thor, flanked by Captain Marvel and Iron Man, getting a direct hit from, presumably, several cannons or missiles from a spacecraft. A direct hit mind you.
The Asgardian will live through this attack. What I usually see are Thor's feats of strength and that awesome hammer. Demonstrations of toughness are less common, and this one really impresses.
The Avengers have been effectively defeated and captured by the Mad Titan. But it doesn't end there. Thanos rips the Soul Gem from Adam Warlock's forehead. We get a reference to just how powerful the Soul Gem is.
And that's what exactly Thanos plans to do with it - destroy our sun. Thus Moondragon's mental distress call to Spider-Man.
Leave it to Peter to clear things up. He wasn't specifically contacted by Moondragon. Moondragon just fired off that warning hoping someone would pick it up and it was 'picked up' by Spidey's spider-sense. Brilliant.
Marvel likes to personify concepts as godlike beings in their Universe. So here we come upon Lord Chaos and Master Order. In a way they are two halves of the same coin.
These protectors of the cosmic balance have chosen Spider-Man and the Thing as there erswhile champions in their struggle against Thanos
Okay, Peter is dealing with a cosmic scale situation so he's thinking space ship, and where could he get one in New York? The logical answer is the Baxter Building - what's a space ship when they have a time machine for heaven's sake. Inside the Baxter, the Thing is reading.
He's obviously reading Salem's Lot. The last time we saw Ben reading in Marvel Two-In-One it was The Shining. Ben seems to be a Stephen King fan.
The Thing is drawn accurately in terms of his size when compared to Spider-Man in the panel below don't you think?
Spider-Man came to the Baxter Building needing a ship so he gets one.
Look at the weapons systems on that ship - should come in handy.
Okay, here we go. No dream now. The real thing.
Ben and Peter are captured by a Tractor Beam and lured into the ship. We all know what a tractor beam means: a beam of energy envelops a ship and reels it in to another ship. Every body knows what a tractor beam is because we've seen it in countless comics and sci-fi movies. But where did the term come from? Well, it turns out that it comes from a novel and is a play on the more descriptive phrase "attractor beam". Attractor Beam --> Tractor Beam. Makes sense.
Inside the ship, the Thing and Spider-Man are greeted by the traditional melee.
I'm surmising that this is the same crowd that fought the Avengers so they shouldn't be impressed at all by just two opponents.
The two heroes decide to get organized. The Thing will handle the heavy hitters and Spider-Man will take care of the support team.
Here, Spidey borrows a move from the Blue Beetle
The Thing has more than enough power to be an effective monster fighter.
Seeing that his thralls are losing, Thanos cuts the gravity.
I called Spider-Man a 'street hero'. This is a class of hero whose comics carried the "Marvel Knights" label at one point. They dealt with muggings and robberies, that kind of stuff. Daredevil is one. So is Iron Fist. The Thing never did belong to such a group but I tend to lump him in with them because Benjy is such a down-to-earth guy. He's a neighborhood guy - just ask the Yancy Streeters. Granted that the Thing's power set puts him at the very top of this group. Spider-Man explains it best.
All this beggars the question: What would Lord Chaos and Master Order be wanting from two local powerhouses when they're obviously dealing with a problem - Thanos - of a cosmic scale? Well, it is revealed that Peter and Ben were never meant to duke it out with the godlike Titan. They are meant to free someone who could: Adam Warlock.
Not that I think Adam Warlock would appreciate being freed. He is inside the Soul Gem experiencing what could best be described as 'paradise'.
And here we have a beautiful one-page rendition of Thanos and what he refers to as his 'trophy collection'.
We all know it's not going to work but it's beautiful to see it anyway: The Thing punches Thanos.
Thanos just called the Thing a 'craggy gargoyle'. That's rich.
Unlike Ben, Peter wisely avoids a direct - and futile - confrontation with Thanos. He runs away within the ship and is pursued by henchmen, opposition that Spider-Man can easily handle. Along the way Peter Parker thinks up a plan.
Yup. Thor would be perfect. My shortlist for heroes that could probably handle Thanos would be the aforementioned Thor, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, and the Silver Surfer. Truth to tell, before I heard the discussion between Lord Chaos and Master Order, Adam Warlock never entered my mind.
Spider-Man manages to sneek back in and damage the machine keeping the Avengers prisoner. And then . . .
The Beast and the Thing in the same comic. Yey!
One page battle pinup with the main task of fighting Thanos relegated to Thor and the Thing! Very nice indeed.
Hank McCoy does his part
Thor + Thing
I spoke too soon.
I was wrong about Adam Warlock too. It might be Paradise where he is, but Adam remembers his 'death' at the hand of Thanos and it does not rest easy with him.
Remember how Spider-Man was susceptible to Moondragon's mental distress call? Well, he seems to be getting something of that sort of 'guidance' from Lord Chaos and Master Order as well. Peter is getting instructions on how to free Adam Warlock. After fighting through a small mob of assailants, Spider-Man does just that.
And just like that we come to what is perhaps the most iconic panel in the comic. The return of Adam Warlock.
Thanos would be much tougher in later stories but here, a mere touch from the 'blazing' Warlock turns him to stone.
Wait a minute. Adam Warlock got his cake and gets to eat it too. The fiery manifestation we saw was just that - a manifestation. Warlock stays dead. Just look at his tombstone.
After dealing with Thanos, Adam goes back inside the paradise of the Soul Gem. And yes, as the date in the tombstone attests, Adam Warlock is just technically 10 years old. He was actually never born. He emerged from a coccoon with the body of an adult.