50 years ago, in Iron Man #55, both Drax the Destroyer and Thanos made their first appearances.
Iron Man #55 opens with Drax the Destroyer being held prisoner on Thanos’s mobile prison planet. This Drax is far different from the Drax who became famous as a result of being a part of the MCU. This Drax is a former Earthling who was killed by Thanos but then resurrected and given one mission, to kill Thanos. There’s nothing funny, not even unintentionally, about his Drax. Knowing that Drax will not stop until he has destroyed him, Thanos has chained Drax up and spends his spare time taunting him. Just because Thanos is evil, that doesn’t make him smart.
Drax sends out a mental message to Iron Man, despite the fact that he and Iron Man have never met. Tony Stark agrees to help Drax because Drax’s messages are so powerful that Tony can’t even attend a business meeting. After suiting up as Iron Man, Stark flies out to Thanos’s prison planet. Along the way, Drax tells him the abbreviated details of Thanos’s origin and Thanos’s love of death.
Iron Man’s fist meeting with Thanos is not particularly auspicious.
Thanos thinks so little of Iron Man that he assigns the moronic aliens known as the Blood Brothers to battle Iron Man. Iron Man is able to free Drax, the Blood Brothers are easily defeated, and Thanos makes a hasty retreat. Drax thanks Iron Man, shakes his hand, and then heads after Thanos. And I suppose Iron Man gets back to Earth somehow.
Thanos and Drax were created by Jim Starlin, who wasn’t even Iron Man’s regular writer. When the planned story for Iron Man #55 ended up running behind schedule, Starlin was assigned to create a filler story. Thanos and Drax were both characters that Starlin had invented for a planned-but-never-written sci-fi epic in college. Starlin reused them and their origins in Iron Man #55.
Though thrown together at the last minute, Iron Man #55 predicted the future of Marvel in a way that, even at the time, few realized. When Starlin took over Captain Marvel, he reused both Drax and Thanos and crafted an epic space opera that was later reused during phase one of the MCU. For all the credit that was given to Kevin Feige, the Russo brothers, Stan Lee, and countless others, the MCU owes much of its success to Jim Starlin.
And it all began with Iron Man #55 running behind schedule.
IRON MAN #55 (October, 1972)
Writer: Jim Starlin/Mike Friedrich
Penciler: Jim Starlin
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Roy Thomas
Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:
- Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance”
- The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
- Crisis on Campus
- “Even in Death”
- The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
- Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
- Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
- Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
- The Death of Dr. Druid
- To All A Good Night
- The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
- The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
- Captain America Punches Hitler
- Spider-Man No More!
- Alex Ross Captures Galactus
- Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
- Goliath Towers Over New York
- NFL SuperPro is Here!
- Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
- Captain America For President
- Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
- J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City
- Captain America Quits
- Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
- Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time
- The Skrulls Are Here