WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Avengers #27 by Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, Mark Morales, Jason Keith and VC's Cory Petit, on sale Wednesday, Nov. 27.
The Marvel Universe is full of various cosmic entities, each possessing the power to wipe out entire galaxies. Fans are familiar with the likes of the Phoenix Force and Galactus' numerous heralds, but one force that often goes overlooked is the cosmic Starbrand.
The planetary defense mechanism returned with a splash during Jonathan Hickman's run on Avengers and New Avengers, when a college student named Kevin Conner became the Starbrand's newest host. After co-starring in a shortlived comic with the Nightmask, Starbrand made a surprising appearance in Marvel Legacy #1. A seemingly-mad Starbrand confronted Ghost Rider (Robbie Reyes), resulting in a fight that left Kevin Conner dead and the Starbrand looking for a new body to possess.
Now, Marvel is ready to reveal the next tale in the Starbrand saga in Avengers. "Starbrand Reborn" takes Earth's Mightiest Heroes to an alien prison galaxy, where they will come across the new wielder of the powerful Starbrand. Fans got a short teaser for the story arc in last year’s Free Comic Book Day release, when a very different looking team of Avengers were shown heading towards a planet with the Starbrand symbol burned into it.
"Starbrand Reborn" kicks off in Avengers #27, and a preview of the issue features the Shi'ar Majestor Gladiator aboard an outpost on the edge of Shi'ar-controlled space. Someone working on the outpost informs Gladiator that a large explosion occurred inside the prison, with a dreadnought ship dispatched to investigate. Only two of the crewmen returned, and the preview of Avengers #27 reveals they have the Starbrand burned into their foreheads.
Unfortunately, Gladiator can tell the crewmen are already dead, and he puts them out of their misery with a fiery eye blast. Also, the cause of the explosion is tied to an automated transport ship carrying new prisoners of the planet. Gladiator decides no more of his people will be sacrificed to learn answers to this growing mystery, and volunteers to follow the dreadnought's last coordinates.
"If you haven't from me after seventeen starsecs, here's who I want you to call," Gladiator relays to a soldier. The identity of this person remains a mystery until Avengers #27 goes on sale Nov. 27, but it more than likely isn't a hero from the team. It would be odd for the Shi'ar to rely on the Avengers for help, even though they did work together against the Builders in Hickman's run. The Shi'ar already find themselves at odds with the New Mutants, so perhaps a team-up with the Avengers may be in order.
The extra-sized Avengers #10/#700 teased the return of the Starbrand in a splash page featuring future storylines, and artwork revealed hands extended in the air with the Starbrand symbol on them. The cover to Avengers #27 shows alien hands with the same symbol marked on them, so we may be looking at more than one character becoming a Starbrand. An army of Starbrands may be too much for even the Avengers to contend with.
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