WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy #11 by Donny Cates, Cory Smith, Victor Olazaba, David Curiel and VC's Cory Petit, on sale now.
Ever since beginning his acclaimed work at Marvel Comics, writer Donny Cates has delved deeply into the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe across multiple titles, reviving and celebrating some of the more obscure elements of the publisher's extensive, sci-fi mythos. Cates' current run on Guardians of the Galaxy has expanded its reach with its extended cast of characters from all corners of the cosmos, assembled in the wake of Thanos' death during Infinity Wars.
As Cates' run nears its bombastically epic conclusion, the spacefaring team of misfit superheroes confronts the Universal Church of Truth, a fanatical, fundamentalist cult that has brainwashed several prominent figure,s including Star-Lord's father, J'Son of Spartax, and Drax the Destroyer. Scores of innocents who refuse to willingly join their ranks have been forcibly imprisoned in a massive battleship. Their life-force is being used to power an enormous weapon, which they intend to use to destroy the Earth next. The leader of this incarnation of the cult has not been fully revealed. However, it may be one of the more infamous cosmic figures from Marvel in the '90s: the Goddess.
The powerful cosmic character was created when Adam Warlock obtained the Infinity Gauntlet and purged the good and evil aspects from his personality, with Warlock's personification of evil becoming the villainous Magus, while the good personification of Warlock became the Goddess. Despite her noble roots, the Goddess sought to completely bend the universe to her will through the use of combined Cosmic Cubes, which formed the Cosmic Egg in 1993's Infinity Crusade. She brainwashed several Marvel superheroes to serve as her personal army and create Paradise Omega, with the overall plan to eradicate all evil from the universe.
The resulting conflict led to Warlock entering a desperate alliance with Mephisto and Thanos to stop the Goddess from eliminating all semblance of sentient life in the universe, which she reasoned was the root of all evil. The combined forces ultimately defeat the Goddess, leading to her absorption into the Soul Gem. But the biggest clue that the Goddess has returned was mentioned by Warlock himself at the end of Infinity Wars when he noted that a part of him has gone missing.
With the advance solicitation information and cover for the final issue of Cates' run hinting at the heroes facing an opponent of divine proportions, the Goddess could be poised to make a surprise return to the Marvel Universe. The mass brainwashing and fanatical agenda of the Universal Church of Truth certainly fits the Goddess' modus operandi, along with the organization's mission to destroy the Earth. This would likely preemptively prevent a repeat of her defeat in the Infinity Crusade.
The final issue of Donny Cates' run on Guardians of the Galaxy has been hailed as the culmination of the cosmic stories that the writer has been penning since first writing Thanos two years ago. With Cates' cosmic work a far-reaching celebration of the entire sci-fi side of Marvel's extensive cast of characters and history, one of the most obscure, convoluted figures from the '90s may make her return as the battle against the Universal Church of Truth nears its climax and the mastermind behind the plot to reshape the entire universe intensifies. After all, what better figure to tie all of Cates' epic plot lines together than an evil deity?