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The largest tear became known as a region called the Fault. At first most thought it was just a unstable rip in time and space. Until they discovered what was on the other side.
A alternate universe that seems to have went through a Cosmic Horror Story. "Life had won" and all were united under their ancient gods called Many-Angled Ones, death is meaningless and the universe is overflowing with life to the point of it becoming "full" (please note that said life is invariably of the unpleasant variety). Thus they have used the Fault as a gateway to invade the Marvel Universe to give their gods new space to consume. Only one thing may stand in their way.
Thanos, the Mad Titan, Avatar of Death, has been brought back to life.
Now all the key interstellar empires, cosmic heroes and forces of universe have descended on the Fault to stem the invading forces of the "cancerverse", forces filled with Eldritch Abominations and twisted versions of Marvel's strongest.
A Marvel Comics Bat Family Crossover for Marvel's cosmic/space titles that spun out of 2009's Realm of the Kings storyline and various story elements that have been introduced under the tenure of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning post-Annihilation Marvel cosmic era.
The Thanos Imperative provides examples of:
- Avengers Assemble: In The Thanos Imperative epilogue, Cosmo does this for the "Annilators".
- Apocalyptic Log: Quasar in the Realm of the Kings one shot.
- Apocalypse How: Thanos invokes a Class X-4 on the Cancerverse and was about to ramp it up to Class X-5 before Nova and Star Lord began to intervene.
- Back From the Dead: Thanos and he is not pleased about it.
- Beard of Evil: All the Marvel alternates have some slight and not so slight variations to their designs... besides the red glowing eyes and the occasional tentacle.
- Bigger Bad: The Many-Angled Ones that gave Mar-vell the power to kill Death in the first place. They make a brief appearance as Lord Mar-vell summons them and they're pretty much your typical Eldritch Abominations.
- Call Back: Annihilators arguing about their name in similiar way Guardians of the Galaxy did in first issue of their adventures.
- Came Back Wrong: Subverted with Thanos, had a Unwanted Revival, made worst in that his body is now immortal, thus sealing him off from his beloved mistress.
- Captain Ersatz: The Many-Angled Ones, aside Shuma-Gorath, have names very similiar to famous gods of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. Shuma-Gorath, being a tentacle monster, seems to be playing the role of Cthulhu in this pantheon.
- Continuity Nod: Drax putting on a variation of his original costume as they go into the Cancerverse.
- Curb Stomp Battle: The Guardians of the Galaxy vs. Defenders of the Realm. Notably the one page battle between Cosmo vs Cancerverse Hulk and Thanos' contribution.
- The Dragon: Lord Mar-vell acts as the herald and head underling for the Many-Angled Ones.
- Death Seeker: Thanos, of course.
- Death Takes a Holiday: And it ain't pretty.
- Defector From Decadence: The Cancerverse!Scarlet Witch aids the heroes and her husband the Vision into reaching the site of the Necropsy Ritual. She gets her soul eaten by Lord Mar-vell for her troubles.
- Eldritch Abomination: An entire universe.
- Evil Counterpart: The Revengers, Defenders of the Realm and the cancerverse's main leader Lord Mar-Vell
- After the abstracts get involved, they invoke the Cancerverse's own Galactus Engine. Serious Oh Crap moment.
- Fake Defector: Thanos surrenders to Lord Mar-vell so that Mar-vell will try to kill him and bring him close to Death literally, allowing her to eradicate the Cancerverse.
- For Want of a Nail: The only difference between the regular Marvel universe and the Cancerverse before things became tentacly was that the Cancerverse was a bit closer to the center of the universe, where the Many-Angled Ones lay.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Star-Lord and Nova stay behind in the Cancerverse to keep Thanos from escaping and destroying the Marvel Universe.
- Ironic Echo: For once, Richard gets to tell the Worldmind that it's "critical you pay attention at this time!"
- Living Forever Is Awesome: All inhabitants in the Cancerverse naturally, though how much of this is due to the influence of the Many-Angled Ones is left to the imagination.
- Monster From Beyond the Veil: Pretty much everyone from the Cancerverse.
- Oh Crap: Lots.
- First, by everyone present when Adam Magus blows up multiple planets to fully open The Fault.
- Then by Nova when one of the Abstracts is killed right in front of him.
- The Guardians have this reaction a few times; first when they find themselves in the Cancerverse, surrounded by the Defenders Of The Realm with their main cannon, Thanos, unconcious; and later on, when Thanos and Drax kill each other and when Thanos double-crosses them:
- And finally, by Big Bad Lord Mar-Vell, when he realizes that Thanos tricked him into bringing Death to Canververse.
- Blastarr in the epilogue, when he ecounters the Annihilators.
Quasar: Shall we take it outside?
Blastarr: Oh shi-
- Prescience Is Predictable: Mantis in the final issue.
- Power Walk: Performed by Nova, Quasar, Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator, Ronan the Accuser and Silver Surfer. And because the tease before the issue's release as the basis for fan speculation of a cosmic Avengers after the event.
- The Problem with Fighting Death: The Cancerverse eliminated Death. This was a very bad thing.
- Ridiculously Human Robot: The Resistance, lead by The Vision, within the Cancerverse is made of the few Marvel mechanical life that weren't wiped out in the early in the conversion of the cancerverse.
- Sacrificial Lion: Drax the Destroyer
- Thanos Gambit: Well, what did you expect? Thanos surrenders and allows Mar-vell to kill him, drawing Death to the universe full of Life and letting her destroy it.
- Token Evil Teammate: Thanos, obviously and to a lesser degree Drax.
- Blastarr, first running during the last battle against the Cancerverse and then a week afterward, attacking the capital of the Kree home world.
- Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: The Guardians of the Galaxy at the start decide to warp themselves and Thanos deep into the Cancerverse early on, hoping to find a way to stop the invasion.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Thanos after his resurrection finds himself unable to die and return to the side of his beloved, Death
- The Worf Effect: The Big Bad Lord Marvel pulled this with most heroes in the story.
- Except Thanos, who is shown to physically overpower him before his apparent surrender.
- X Meets Y: Space Opera meets Cosmic Horror Story in Marvel Universe!
- You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Despite the arrival of the massive Galactus Engine to battle the cosmic abstracts and entities, to both the reader and the non-abstracts at the battle, it does nothing. The Silver Surfer is the one that explains that both the Galactus Engine and the other abstracts are in a battle that the rest can't fathom until its the consequences have already been decided. Likely doubles as an Offscreen Moment of Awesome.
- You Have Failed Me: Adam Magus, head native cheerleader for the Cancerverse and Super-Powered Evil Side of the Avatar of Life, at the end of the Ignition one shot and prologue.
- Your Head Asplode: What happens to an abstract that is killed in a battle we can only see the results of.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: At the start of the series half of the Guardians follow Star Lord into the cancerverse and the other half goes to frontlines. Only Major Victory is shown later among the captured anomalies on the Cancerverse flagship. And he isn't shown after Lord Mar-Vell's ship is destroyed.