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The Dark History Of Drax The Destroyer

Drax the Destroyer might be a hilarious part of the MCU, but he's actually one of the more disturbing characters in Marvel history. In the comics, he's an innocent man from Earth who is murdered, along with his wife and daughter, by Thanos. Their crime? They see him arrive on Earth, and he wants no witnesses. Drax is then reborn out of revenge, thanks to the machinations of Thanos' father, Mentor, and his ancestor, Kronos. They resurrect this poor human, turn him into a single-minded killing machine, then send him off to battle Thanos, the most power-hungry person in the universe, all on his own.

Drax's life is a long and tortured one. He is reunited with long-lost relatives, only for them to attempt to brainwash him. He loses his life's purpose and is stymied in his attempts to find a new one. He dies and is resurrected in an endless cycle controlled by others, for their own purposes. Basically, Drax's story is a galactic tragedy. We're here to explore its darkest moments, from the machinations of Drax's daughter Moondragon to his failed attempts at pacifism.

Born to kill

The man who would become Drax the Destroyer begins life as Arthur Douglas of Earth. A real estate agent by trade, Thanos sees him and his family driving on a deserted road on his first scouting mission to Earth. He's with his wife Yvette and his young daughter Heather when Thanos realizes that they might have seen him. It's too much of a risk to be discovered at that point, so he fires a missile at them. Heather, it is later revealed, survives the attack, but not her father.

Thanos' father Mentor has banned his son from their home on Titan because he dares to create weapons. Thanos responds by assembling a deadly space armada. Mentor deems it time for something to be done about his son. Rather than intervene directly, he enlists his father, Kronos, who is a godlike, incorporeal being. Together, they take Arthur's spirit before it departs and put it in a new, super-powerful body made out of earth. This is Drax the Destroyer, whose only mission is to annihilate Thanos by any means necessary. 

However, the duo erase his memories along the way — partly to ease the pain of his former existence, and partly to keep him on task. Thanos later restores Drax's memories when he holds the Cosmic Cube, but that only makes Drax even angrier. Over time, Drax transforms from a noble avenger into an obsessed killer.

Misplaced vengeance

When Thanos is apparently destroyed after Captain Mar-Vell defeats him, poor Drax no longer has any purpose. He travels aimlessly around the stars, destroying random planets in his despair. Then he happens upon Mar-Vell, and a frustrated Drax becomes a really, really angry Drax. He sets out to kill Mar-Vell because he killed Thanos, robbing him of his life's meaning. After a truly pointless battle that nearly kills both of them, Drax is suddenly given information that reveals Thanos is alive. He leaves Mar-Vell behind without a word of apology. This reinforces that the Destroyer isn't actually good or evil, so much as he is single-minded.

Later, Drax discovers that Thanos has been turned into stone, defeated by Adam Warlock and the Avengers. Robbed of his vengeance yet again, he makes a beeline to Earth, sees Mar-Vell again, and blames him for Thanos' death with no evidence. They nearly destroy each other until they're interrupted by ISAAC, a sentient Titanian supercomputer, who tells them that Thanos' disciples are attacking Titan. This is all an elaborate trap laid by Thanos before his death, and Mar-Vell and Drax join forces to fight against Thanos' legacy. Of course, Drax still swears to kill Mar-Vell when they're done. Only Mar-Vell nearly sacrificing his life to save Drax changes his mind on deciding to kill him. Drax returns to drifting after this, unable to find new meaning in life. 

Drax the Self-Destroyer

When Drax leaves Mar-Vell, he says he hopes to become a creator instead of a destroyer. However, it doesn't take long for him to realize that this idea was a "jest of huge and dark proportions." So, bereft of purpose, he seeks out his own destruction. The minute he decides to do this, a handy space organism happens along who warns him not to engage, lest they destroy him. The smile on Drax's face at this pronouncement is especially disturbing, considering he's never depicted as smiling.

Moondragon, who happens to be Drax's long-lost daughter, Heather, decides to seek him out. She was taken away from Earth by Mentor and raised as another weapon against Thanos. With Thanos dead, she also lacks purpose, and so she decides to try to connect with him.

Moondragon finds him with a murderous alien creature attached to his head, and so she quickly brings him to the Avengers on Earth. Drax wakes up and tries to kill everyone, including the Avengers' butler, Jarvis. Thor brings him to his senses with a well-placed lightning bolt. When the alien starts begging to be killed, now that it has no purpose, Drax realizes they're in the same boat. He heads off with Moondragon to help restore the being to the rest of its pod. Being a Destroyer means never having to say you're sorry, apparently, even to the helpful Earth heroes you attempted to murder.

Diabolical daughter dearest

Of course, Moondragon and Drax's quest takes a dark turn when they come across a war-torn planet called Ba-Banis. Having powerful psionic abilities means you get to win every argument, whether or not you make good points, and so Moondragon puts the entire planet under her power in the name of peace. She also mind-controls her dear old dad, who isn't keen on this arrangement. 

Drax briefly breaks out of her control to send a distress signal to the Avengers, but Moondragon is able to manipulate them into thinking there's a rebel uprising that she needs help defeating. When the Avengers stick around to investigate, they quickly discover the whole thing is a sham. Moondragon is able to enslave Thor, which turns out to be a great idea on her part, because Drax is not at all amused when he breaks from her control.

The Avengers take Thor out of the equation when he turns back into Donald Blake to break Moondragon's control. Moondragon proceeds to turn her full powers against them, which Drax resists until he literally drops dead. Thor takes her to Asgard to be judged while the rest of the Avengers give Drax a space funeral by blowing up his ship with his body inside.

A questionable portrayal

Drax actually stays dead for a long time. However, Mistress Death, whom Thanos worships, brings Thanos back to life to correct what he refers to as the Great Imbalance. As fans of the MCU might guess, the imbalance is that there are too many living beings in the universe, and they're in danger of using up all of its resources. This could tip the scales of life, causing mass extinction. According to Thanos, his mistress prefers a steady supply of the dead rather than a sudden avalanche. So, he sets out to destroy half of the universe's living things.

With Thanos alive, Kronos turns to his one-size-fits-all solution: Drax. The problem is that Drax is resurrected with brain damage, thanks to Moondragon. The result is a Drax who is frequently played for laughs — only his extreme persistence and still-deadly powers make him a threat to Thanos. 

After Thanos is defeated by Adam Warlock, who holds possession of all the Infinity Gems, Adam decides to give up godhood and give the Gems to his associates, the newly christened Infinity Watch. This group includes Drax, who gets the Power Gem after being convinced to stop watching "Alf" reruns. Drax stays in this state for quite a while, as the Watch battles powerful beings like the Magus and the Goddess. They even team up with Thanos, although they have to calm down Drax first. All told, the portrayal is often in poor taste.

The mistaken prince

Drax goes through a weird series of transformations at this point in his history. He occasionally regains his faculties, although he loses a lot of muscle mass. However, he also reverts, at times, to his bigger, dumber self. It's a tad Hulk-ish. Speaking of the Hulk, Drax tussles with Genis-Vell over a misunderstanding concerning Moondragon. The two of them wind up going to the Microverse — specifically, the world where the Hulk once fell in love with Jarella, a green-skinned princess.

Jarella died tragically, and her sister Visalia took her place. When she sees Drax, she assumes he's the Hulk, and immediately sets about seducing him. It turns out she's a tyrant and not really Jarella's sister after all, however — making Drax her prince is just a power grab. Once again, Drax is used by another for their own ends. Visalia is actually in love with Dexam, an old member of the Microverse heroes known as the Microns, who are trying to restore freedom to the planet. Once Drax catches wind of this, he pounds Dexam into next week

Drax sticks around to help the Microns, but he's emotionally controlled by the Psycho-Man and releases Genis' evil twin, Fredd. Drax rampages until Genis-Vell is able to set everything back to normal. The Destroyer isn't trying to start trouble, but it inevitably follows him.

Murdered by Paibok

After a while, Drax finds himself on a prison ship with a number of murderers. They crash-land on Earth, where a teenage girl named Cammi takes an interest in him. Cammi is a pugnacious near-sociopath who isn't afraid of the aliens. In fact, she manipulates Drax into fighting the Blood Brothers by pretending to be his daughter and claiming that they hurt her. 

Later, the leader of the escaped aliens, Paibok, has enough of Drax's rampage. He kills him by shoving a spiked arm right through his head. Cammi tricks the Blood Brothers into handing over Drax's corpse. She watches it steam and crack until a new, smaller version of Drax emerges. It bears a striking resemblance to the Drax of the MCU, including his unique tattoo patterns. Drax mentally bonds with Cammi without her consent and hunts down Lunatik, another escaped alien. No longer able to use his power blasts, Drax instead uses a couple of very sharp knives to decapitate Lunatik. He later kills one of the Blood Brothers. When Paibok realizes he can't get off Earth, he calls another prison ship.

An unwilling Guardian of the Galaxy

After the second Annihilation War, Drax is pressed to join the new Guardians of the Galaxy, whose job is to prevent massive cosmic events like Annihilation from happening again. This is a turbulent team filled with big personalities that feels very thrown-together. 

At one point, when certain Skrull fanatics are found to be infiltrating the ship, Drax comes under suspicion as a Skrull. Knowing that the Skrulls are impossible to detect until they die, Drax cleverly uses a weapon to render everyone brain-dead for 90 seconds. That flushes out the Skrulls, who turn out to be pacifists resisting the Skrull fanatics who are invading Earth. Everything gets sorted out ... except the fact that Drax learns of a disturbing detail in the process.

How exactly did Peter Quill put together a team with so many powerful members, many of whom are not team players? As it turns out, he had Mantis give them all a not-so-subtle psychic nudge to join the team. Quill justifies it because the universe needs saving, but once Drax tells the others, the team falls apart.

Betrayed by Mentor

After Drax leaves the Guardians, he sets off to find his daughter Moondragon, accompanied by her lover, Phyla-Vell (then acting as the hero Quasar). Returning to Titan, they turn to Mentor for help. He is desperate to find Moondragon, and betrays his former creation by killing him yet again (along with Phyla) and sending them to the realm of Oblivion. Mentor knows Heather is in there somewhere, and he's certain he can find her by forcibly sending Drax to do so.

The pair meets Maelstrom, an agent of Oblivion on that horrific plane of existence. He reveals that Heather is indeed in Oblivion, nestled somewhere inside the terrifying demon called the Dragon of the Moon, who once possessed Heather Douglas. Maelstrom gets ahold of Phyla's quantum bands and wakes up the Dragon in an effort to kill them. Things seem grim when the Dragon apparently eats Phyla. However, Drax pulls off the most Drax-like solution ever by sneaking up behind Maelstrom and cutting his hands off. That restores the quantum bands to Wendell Vaughn, the original Quasar. Phyla bursts out of the Dragon with Heather. Drax and Phyla are both furious with Mentor when they wake up, but Heather is reborn with a new clone body. All of Drax's family reunions are about this weird. 

Killing Thanos, yet again

During the Annihilation War, Drax finally manages to kill Thanos. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't take. The Universal Church of Truth, under the guidance of the power-mad Adam Magus, resurrects Thanos and also opens up a rift in space called the Fault. This allows the inhabitants of that dimension to invade this dimension. Their home dimension is nicknamed the "Cancerverse," and is one where death has been completely banished. This is thanks to their Captain Mar-Vell, who made a deal with a race of ancient cosmic gods called (among other names) the Many-Angled Ones. 

The Guardians of the Galaxy take the resurrected Thanos to the Cancerverse, as he is the champion of Death. Drax goes along too, then suddenly hits Thanos with an antimatter charge that disintegrates the Mad Titan. Even though the Guardians are working with Thanos to save the universe, Drax is still single-minded enough to go after Thanos yet again. 

Death rejects Thanos and immediately restores him, as he still has a mission to do. Upon being resurrected, Thanos kills Drax yet again. Thanos eventually helps the heroes win, but Death refuses to take him back. He vows vengeance on the entire universe, but is kept prisoner in the Cancerverse, where nothing can die. 

Drax the Pacifist

After years of non-stop violence, Drax takes a vow of pacifism. This sudden desire for peace is sparked when he inadvertently causes the deaths of a number of slaves. While he stays with the Guardians, however, he has a tough time keeping this vow. After killing more than one enemy, Peter Quill suggests he go to the planet Xitaung. It's a quiet place ... but the Power Gem is also hidden there, just in case.

"Just in case" happens very quickly, as a war involving various alien races comes to Xitaung, all looking for the Power Gem. In a huge battle, Star-Lord grabs the gem and gives it to Drax. This causes him to break his vow, as he tears through his enemies. Drax gets his hands on the Soul Gem as well, which Gamora is seeking so she might free a trapped portion of her soul. The Soul Gem has been horribly changed, however, and Drax hits her instead of letting her have it

This mission is like every mission Drax has ever had, from killing Thanos to guarding the Infinity Gems: It goes terribly awry. He is a killing machine who never gets his final satisfaction. He is a warrior who is never able to find lasting purpose. And he is a teammate whose allies always end up leaving, brain-washing, or attacking him.