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Marvel Just Killed A Guardian Of The Galaxy - And It Was Heartbreaking

Contains spoilers for "Guardians of the Galaxy Annual" #1 (by Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Kev Walker, Matt Hollingsworth, and VC's Cory Petit).

The Guardians of the Galaxy have come to the end of the "Grootfall" saga. The truth behind Groot's deadly transformation has been revealed, and all is not what it appears. Those previously believed to have been killed at the hands of the tree-like alien have been reborn thanks to the sacrifice of Drax the Destroyer.

In Marvel Comics' current "Guardians of the Galaxy" series, the titular superteam's enemy is Groot, their usual friendly ally who has become part of a terraforming cosmic entity called Grootfall. But despite appearing to kill several Guardians, it's much less sinister than initially believed. Grootfall formed after Groot met with the last survivor of his people, the Flora colossi, and has been attempting to reclaim Grootspace, its ancestral home. As part of its quest, it has taken various people across the galaxy and placed them inside flowers, protecting them and starting a process of rebirth.

While Grootfall is on the verge of returning those it abducted, the Spartan Empire, led by Peter Quill's sister, Empress Victoria, understandably sees the entity as a deadly threat. To ensure the rebirth occurs amid a cosmic conflict, Drax ends up sacrificing himself in one of the most heartbreaking endings for a superhero in recent memory.

Drax's fitting end

"Guardians of the Galaxy Annual" #1 turns out to be a perfect ending for Drax. Born Arthur Douglas, he became Drax the Destroyer after being taken from Earth by Thanos' grandfather and father, Kronos and Mentor, who transformed him into a weapon literally designed to defeat the Mad Titan. Now, the hero has shed his past title and become something very different.

With Empress Victoria trying to destroy Grootfall, still unaware of the truth regarding its process of rebirth, Drax and Rocket Raccoon take matters into their own hands. Rocket warns Drax to be careful as an exploding spaceship is about to ignite a new sun, which will allow Grootfall to flourish. However, the threat of being turned into space ash is ignored by Drax. He refuses to let Rocket sacrifice himself as the one guiding the power of the explosion. He grabs Rocket, sends him away against his wishes, and prepares for his own death.

In a heartbreaking scene, Drax embraces his end. As the "Destroyer," he lived in silence. But now he hears the music he used to love as Arthur Douglas. Guided by the chords of Douglas' soul, Drax plays the saxophone like he did in his prior life on Earth. He dedicates the song to his daughter, Moondragon, while wishing he could have seen her one last time. He continues to play as the ship detonates and a new sun is born. Mantis and Gamora look on amid the chaos, with the latter dubbing Drax "The Creator," flipping the script on his "Destroyer" moniker once and for all.

Will Drax return?

Drax's death is not in vain. His sacrifice steers the explosion into creating a new sun, leading to those previously believed to be dead by Grootfall being reborn. Several familiar faces, including Noah-Varr, Quasar, Phyla-Vel, Hercules, and the Skrull, Kl'rt, return to life, assisting the Guardians of the Galaxy in tracking down survivors and with relief efforts. Meanwhile, Peter Quill and his sister, Empress Victoria, appear ready to mend their complicated relationship while a reunited Rocket Raccoon and Groot share a heartwarming hug.

Comic book deaths have become mainly meaningless over the years as, time and time again, stories have promised the shocking end of a hero or villain only for them to eventually return and have their status quo reset. This specific "Guardians of the Galaxy" series even previously teased all of its heroes being dead earlier in its run before revealing their true fate. However, whatever the future holds for Drax, the "Grootfall" finale serves as a perfect endpoint for the character. The transformation from Drax the Destroyer to Drax the Creator is a brilliant way to conclude his story, as his sacrifice allows the Guardians of the Galaxy to continue on. If this is the end, it's a good one for Drax.

Of course, if the past is any indication, Drax will be back at some point. But, until then, his death in "Grootfall" is a great swan song for the character as he truly becomes a hero with his actions. 

"Guardians of the Galaxy Annual" #1 from Marvel Comics is in comic book stores and available via online retailers now.