Ever since the initial "Annihilation" mini-series, Marvel's been building up their stable of cosmic space characters. Two ongoing series ("Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy") spun out of the various events, plus more mini-series than you can shake a stick at. With "The Thanos Imperative," Marvel's dialed their presence back a bit. "Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy" are over for now, with all the action happening in just this one mini-series. With the opening one-shot, "The Thanos Imperative: Ignition," we're seeing everything from those two series plus all the "Realm of Kings" mini-series finally come together as part of a cohesive whole.
The good news is that if you were a reader of some or all of these titles, you're going to be in heaven. So much of the last few years has built up directly into this story: the Universal Church of Truth, the rift into the "Cancerverse," the evil doppelganger of Quasar, and of course the rebirth of Thanos. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning bring a lot to the table here, and there are moments (like what Adam Magus' ultimate purpose of the Universal Church of Truth really was all along) that will make the reader jump. It's hard to not cheer on all the various characters as their paths intersect in this opening salvo of all-out war with another universe.
The bad news is that if you weren't reading any of these titles or mini-series for the past few years, there's a lot to digest. Abnett and Lanning wisely open the book with not only Marvel's normal text page, but also a three-page sequence giving the history of both Thanos and some of the supporting characters involved in this story. I don't think it ever would get overwhelming to a new reader, thanks to Abnett and Lanning doing their best to ease them in, but they are going to lose some of the significance of various events along the way.
Still, old and new readers can enjoy the art from Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy, which is fairly nice. I love how Walker's pencils actually make the Guardians' uniforms look like real cloth, with heavy folds and wrinkles on the various members who wear it. Considering that anyone in this comic who wears spandex ends up with killer abs and so little body fat that you can count ribs, it's a curious but notable visual contrast. And most importantly, when it comes to a crazy-eyed maniac, you can't go wrong with the way Walker draws Adam Magus. Yikes.
"The Thanos Imperative: Ignition" is a good introduction to the six-issue mini-series that starts in June, and for now it's a nice substitute for the other cosmic titles that it's displaced. (It's actually a little nice to only have one book to worry about in order to get the entire story.) Hopefully it'll end up bringing in new readers that can help support an eventual return of the other books; if not, well, a series of mini-series as fun as this will work just fine, too.