There has perhaps been no better titled miniseries than this one. It’s just a ton of cosmic characters throwing punches. No big existential threat. No tie-ins. Just fights. Each issue focuses on a different cosmically powered person, with a different artist.

I dig that. It’s fun.

Together, these three stories were Marvel’s first attempt at a “cosmic epic” that wasn’t (a) entirely about Thanos or (b) created by Jim Starlin. As the series evolved, lots of creators got to take a stab at segments of the “story.” I say “story” in quotes because…There really isn’t much of one.

It picks up right after Secret Defenders, with Thanos first killing a planet worth of soldiers and then lamenting the absence of a real challenge. He decides to go after Tyrant.

Issue #2 has Thanos asking Terrax what it was like to fight Tyrant. He gets information and then takes Terrax with him to meet Ganymede, who also fought Tyrant. That’s the plotline of the first several issues–Thanos amassing a small band of allies/subservients. And in each issue, we get to see the spotlit character in action. Like #4 shows Legacy (Genis-Vell) fighting Nitro.

Ganymede is making out with Jack of Hearts when Thanos gathers her, which means she is a prisoner not a volunteer.

Tyrant figures out what Thanos is doing and decides to go kill everyone.

Of course it ends with a big Tyrant-versus-Thanos fight, but it ends in a stalemate. Thanos steals a container of Cosmic Powers from Tyrant…

…But the punchline is that Tyrant still has an even bigger container of them.

That was the first installment. I wrote quite a bit about it. But there are diminishing returns.

Cosmic Powers Unlimited starring Silver Surfer (quite a long title!), which began in 1995, had multiple stories in each issue and while the one-guy-versus-Thanos thing worked in the first CP miniseries, here…Not so much. Maybe because there’s not as much Thanos. Or maybe it’s because it’s 1995 and Marvel sucks more than it doesn’t.

The panels are crowded and busy, the story is confusing…It’s just not as good.

Silver Surfer is hit on by Death (with a capital D) and Thanos gets jealous and mad at Death, so he revives Captain Mar-Vell…

…But then kills him again after they debate the philosophy and merits of cheating death.

From here, the reader realizes that this series is not a series at all. It’s an anthology of cosmic characters, many of whom we don’t care about. Like Kismet, Tana Nile, and Dance. There are highlights, like John Buscema drawing Silver Surfer again, but they’re outweighed by the crushingly boring overall quality of the series.

Randomly, there’s a story about a kid who shoots himself in the head and instead of dying becomes a new iteration of Captain Universe.

Finally, Starmasters closes out the trilogy. Actually, it came out in the middle of Cosmic Powers Unlimited. The prior series referred to the loosely connected gang of cosmic characters as the “Starmasters” team (horrible name). Now, they act as a group to save Earth (again). It’s the worst of the three books and feels entirely pointless. Or maybe I’m just tired.

On the letters page, Mark Gruenwald explains the origins of it–and it’s fraught with problems.

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