Thanos has long been one of the fiercest foes in the Marvel Universe, frequently posing a threat to the entire universe, but a What If issue shows there is one team able to take him on – and win: the Guardians of the Galaxy, with some important allies.
Ever since his first appearance in Iron Man #55 by Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich, Thanos’ presence and threat level has only grown. In the Infinity Gauntlet storyline by Jim Starlin and George Perez (loosely adapted by the MCU into Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame) Thanos manages to assemble the six Infinity Gems and annihilate half of all life in the universe. More recently, in The Thanos Imperative by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Miguel Sepulveda, Star-Lord and Nova decide that Thanos poses such a threat to the cosmos that they try to sacrifice themselves to try to keep him trapped in the Cancerverse (all three have gotten better since). Time and again, Thanos has faced massive assemblages of heroes, and only been temporarily beaten by them, including at the end of Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity event when the best Earth’s Mightiest can do is trap him in a block of an amber-like substance while the universe at large presumes him deceased.
In What If? Infinity: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 by Joshua Williamson and Jason Copland, readers see an alternate epilogue to these events. While in the mainstream Marvel continuity Thanos ends up being freed and playing a part in the events leading up to 2015’s Secret Wars, here the Guardians of the Galaxy find out he survived and is on Earth. Deciding to take matters into their own hands, the Guardians (Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot and Drax) manage to infiltrate the Illuminati, take over Tony Stark’s armor and liberate Thanos. At this point they are joined by the Galactic Council, who are “sick of his *#@$” and the two combined groups manage to destroy Thanos (and if Rocket is to be believed, they do so handily).
The Rule-Breakers And The Rule-Makers Are An Unbeatable Combo
The Galactic Council doesn’t get its hands dirty very often, and for good reason. Comprised of Shi’Ar Majestor Gladiator, Annihilus of the Negative Zone, the Brood Queen, the Kree Supreme Intelligence and Super-Skrull, the group consists of cosmic powerhouses and galactic emperors. Each of them can be (and most have been) the primary antagonist of a major event, and it’s only fitting that they band together to end a major common threat to the cosmos once and for all. Their sheer power level on display makes it clear why the Council doesn’t intervene directly more often – it would be difficult to craft a believable adversary strong enough to challenge them.
While the Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, this issue reminds readers that the rest of the universe can offer even stronger champions when needed, and that the leaders of the major cosmic empires more than earned their positions. When the Guardians of the Galaxy‘s unpredictable creativity is combined with the Galactic Council’s unstoppable raw power, it seems even Thanos the Mad Titan would be gone in a snap.