I’m back with the fourth in my impromptu mid-month run of guides to green heroes for all Patrons of CK. Did I have any inkling this grouping of four guides would all debut back-to-back, or that they would overlap with Saint Patrick’s day in the process? I wish I could say it was all intentional, but it certainly was not! This hero is the oldest of all the green heroes I’ve covered in the past week, he’s as deadly as Gamora, and he’s even had more transformations than those famous mutant turtles. It’s my new Guide to Drax the Destroyer!
Part of the fun of putting together my definitive guides and reading orders is that I get a new understanding of a character’s progression.
In the case of Drax, I’ve seen all of his appearances before, but I’ve never reviewed them all sequentially to understand the major plot cadences that have caused his character to change over the years – sometimes radically. Of all of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax is the team member who has had the most distinct eras in his comic history.
What’s so interesting about Drax and his eras is how the Marvel Cinematic Universe has mined each one for a minor detail of his character. While his film incarnation often feels the farthest from the comics out of all of the guardians, really he is equally close to each of his disparate eras from the 1970s through present day.
The MCU bases Drax’s single-minded focus on destroying Thanos on his original 1970s era. He debuted alongside Thanos in Iron Man (1968) #55 as a sort of golem crafted from the earth of Thanos’s homeworld, driven to hunt him for all of his days until he was destroyed. This original version of Drax was a knockoff of DC’s Martian Manhunter, complex with green skin, psychic powers, and an eloquent manner of speaking.
The golem origin was modified in his next story, a Thanos story infamously placed as a back-up to the film tie-in Logan’s Run. There, we learn that though Drax’s body was born from the rocky ground, his spirit was drawn from an Earthman – Thanos’s first victim on our planet.
This early, high-flying version of Drax with a single-minded focus on vengeance lasted for a decade, outliving his signature foe to enjoy some team-ups with the original Captain Marvel before being unceremoniously killed (by his own daughter!) in a Jim Shooter Avengers tale.
The MCU takes Drax’s comedy from his second incarnation, when Jim Starlin brought him back as part of the revived cast surrounding Adam Warlock and Thanos after the original Infinity Gauntlet in 1992. Since Thanos was revived from death, logically that meant Drax would be reincarnated as well. However, the return to life changed him. He was bigger and stronger than ever before, but what he gained in power he lost in intellect. The Drax of the 90s was a clown, a feeble-minded buffoon who could always be played for a laugh with a tragic backstory he had forgotten.
The MCU find’s Drax’s cold-blooded efficiency in his mid-00s revival by Kieth Giffen. It was Giffen and artist Mitch Breitweiser who streamlined Drax’s look, ditching his Hulk-like green-and-purple combo in favor of his red tattoos and pair of knives. They made him smaller, swifter, and smarter as the result of his newest death and reincarnation – and gave him a thirst for survival separate from his quest to destroy Thanos (though that remained his ultimate goal, as seen in Abnett & Lanning’s Guardians).
The MCU braided together those three character motivations, as did Brian Bendis when he took over the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise from 2012 to 2017. Bendis never made Drax as comedically literal as his cinematic counterpart, but as in the movies he was the taciturn backbone of the team who could sometimes fly into unpredictable rage.
What I learned from my comprehensive read of Drax is that his cycle of death and rebirth will never be over. Even when his character is modified and his thirst for vengeance is temporarily sated, he will always be a man who was crafted into a weapon against Thanos who comes back sharper every time, in some way.
Want instant access to this Guide to Drax the Destroyer so you can enjoy the same journey through his 50 years of history as I just did? Become a Patron of CK for as little as $1 a month or $10.20 a year to gain access to this exclusive guide and up to 70 others months before the general public gains access!
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