Thunderbolts #5 gives a glimpse into a terrifying timeline, setting up the premise for Marvel’s version of DC’s Blackest Night.
The following contains major spoilers for Thunderbolts #5, available now from Marvel Comics.
Over the past few months, the latest iteration of the Thunderbolts has only barely managed to get by, let alone make any strides towards repairing their tattered reputation. Along the way, the team has also fallen prey to one of the most powerful villains of all time. Thankfully, Nightmare’s latest appearance hasn’t done any irreparable harm, although what comes next almost certainly will. Errant Fear Lords may be one thing, but nothing could prepare the world for Marvel’s very own Blackest Night.
After revealing himself as the team’s previously unseen assailant in the pages of Thunderbolts #5 (by Jim Zub, Sean Izaakse, Netho Diaz, Victor Nava, Java Tartaglia, and VC’s Joe Sabino), Nightmare shows America Chavez just what he has been working towards. With her dimension-hopping powers at his command, Nightmare combs the multiverse for the most terrifying realities that exist. This gives Nightmare an endless font of sorrow to feast upon, yet it also gives readers an ominous glimpse into the near future. Among the visions seen is that of Thanos wielding a twisted Mjolnir while leading an army of Marvel Zombies on what very well might be the world fans know best.
The threat of Thanos and a mysterious new Infinity Stone have been looming over Thor like a dark cloud ever since he confronted the universe devouring Black Winter. In recent months, it has become more and more apparent. Between the return of Thor’s grandfather and his infant sister being kidnapped by one of Thanos’ most devout followers in their hunt for the Black Infinity Stone, it seems like it is too late to stop what is coming. And, thanks to Nightmare’s war with the Thunderbolts, readers have an idea of exactly what that is.
Whether the Thanos seen by Nightmare and America was that of the Primary Marvel Universe or not, this gives readers a strong indication of what the next Infinity Stone can do. Seeing Thanos command the ranks of the undead all but confirms the introduction of another Death Stone, yet there is still the question of where these particular legions are coming from. It certainly wouldn’t be any shock if Marvel Zombies made a comeback under the current circumstances. Then again, Thanos’ army could be something far more familiar by making him akin to DC’s Nekron.
When the classic undead DC villain made his horrifying comeback during 2009’s Blackest Night event, he did so as the master of the Black Lantern Corps. Unlike the other Lanterns whose powers were derived from their respective place on the emotional spectrum, those under Nekron’s command are fueled only by their connection to death. This is also how many heroes and villains ended up as unwitting members of Nekron’s army. Despite their then-living status, those such as Superman who had previously died and been resurrected were still reduced to zombified versions of themselves.
This is now a very real concern for the Marvel Universe, as there is no telling just where Thanos will draw his undead legion from when that time comes. It might seem safe to assume that this will end up being the next stop in the Marvel Zombies story, but that would also mean assuming where the Black Infinity Stone’s powers begin and end. If anything, the return of Marvel Zombies is preferable, as that would provide an established baseline for what to expect once Thanos does claim Mjolnir for himself.