Given the impending ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ movie from Marvel, I thought I would start off my series of favorite comic book moments with a Guardians/Avengers moment that has stood the test of time as one of the most epic battles Earth’s Mightiest Heroes have ever fought. (SPOILER ALERT: Michael Korvac slaughters them all!). And if you’re thinking, “Oh yeah, I saw that episode of ‘Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ with Korvac and the Guardians,” let me tell you, you don’t know shit.
Not to get into an entirely off topic rant, but if you’re one of those people who only watch the animated television shows, and then think you know everything there is to know about you’re favorite characters, that’s all well and fine, but don’t try to preach to an actual graphic novel reader about what did or did not happen. Animated series, like the movies, are an adaptation of the true source material, and arguing the otherwise is akin to denying that the Seahawks won last year’s Superbowl because the Steelers won in your Madden 25 franchise mode on your Xbox.
Ok, rant’s over, back to the comics. The tale of Michael Korvac, or Machine Man as he was previously called, spanned 10 issues of the Avengers’ title series. With the Guardians of the Galaxy (a completely different team at the time then the current roster featured in Marvel’s film version) entering the story at the beginning of the arc, and then dying alongside the Avengers in the final issue of the storyline (did I mention everyone dies? Don’t worry, though, they all come back). The Guardians team at the time consists of Major Vance Astro, Starhawk, Charlie-27, Nikki, Martinex and Yondu. If these names aren’t familiar to you, no worries, they’re not all that familiar to me either. But in the context of the story, you don’t really need to know much about them.
The Avenger’s roster during the Korvac Saga is one of the all time great rosters, even before they bring in reserves: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Beast, Wonderman, Yellowjacket, Wasp, and Jocasta. And many more Avengers make appearances before the tale is done. Given the overflowing roster of the team and the tendency of the day to constantly crank out issues with new villains and large battles each and every month, within the Korvac Saga you also get great individual stories with Ultron (to be brought to life in the next Avengers movie), and the Collector (Benicio Del Toro’s character in the upcoming Marvel storyline). Particularly, the Ultron – Jocasta issue is one of the all time greats with those two characters, their dynamic with Hank Pym and the Wasp always makes for some great reads.
Like the great comic arcs have done for generations, the ultimate storyline with Michael Korvac is woven in and out of these tales, sometimes showing up for just a moment, sometimes, like the case with the Collector, he’s actually pulling the strings and actualizes his power at the end of the issue in a frightening and deadly display. As such, after having been on this roller coaster with the Avengers and the Guardians, when the time for the final battle eventually comes, the reader is right there with the team, amped up and ready to kick some super villain butt. This reader transportation is so prelevnt, that when the enemy is found to be located in Forest Hills, and the two teams of costumed superheroes pile out of a bus into the “real world” of the suburban neighborhood, the effect is actually quite jarring.
However, this long-winded explanation has finally led me to the moment that has stuck with me through two decades of reading more comics than I could count: the final battle between Michael Korvac and the Avengers/Guardians. Korvac has all the powers of a god at this point, and waists little time in dealing death to those who would dare attack him. Quicksilver, Black Panther, Iron Man and Captain America fall before his and his wife’s destructive might (did I mention he had a wife who also wielded the power cosmic?).
In the end, he sows the seeds of his own ruin, as truly great villains always do, for his wife hesitates to help him, and in the moment his heart breaks, he uses his own life force to replenish that of the fallen heroes. The Avengers come back, battered and bandaged on the final pages of the book, laying to rest the two greatest threats they had ever faced.
It’s a hollow victory, after such a hard fought battle, we, the reader, and the heroes are left with a heartbreak love story that ends with two headstones side by side. And this, as in any following comic moments I may describe to you in future posts, ends with a lesson. Misunderstanding, arrogance and a rush to confrontation are deadly traps that all too often end in regret.