The Thanos Imperative (2010-2011) Reading Order

They fought off the Annihilation Wave. They freed Hala from Ultron and the Phalanx. But then, the war between the Shi’ar Empire and the Kree/Inhuman alliance tore a hole in the fabric of space and time – the Fault – which threatens to spew forth the undying invaders from the Cancerverse. Can the Guardians of the Galaxy, Nova, the Shi’ar Imperial Guard and the Inhumans put their differences aside to save the universe from the Many-Angled Ones and their Revengers? And could Thanos hold the key to victory?

Crossover: With two tie-in issues, a main-line mini-series and bookend chapters, the Thanos Imperative can be considered a crossover event.

Must Reads: Issues from this event marked with a ✔ are must-read. Stories that are most-heavily impacted by this event are also marked with a ✔.

When an issue contains multiple stories, the relevant story is denoted with square brackets. For example [2/5] refers to the second story of the five stories in that issue, so you don’t need to read the other four

Previous events that directly impact this story:

Want to keep it simple? Here’s the chronological reading order without story descriptions, or spoilers:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #25 (tie-in)
  • Nova #36 (tie-in)
  •      Thanos Sourcebook (Handbook)
  • The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1
  • The Thanos Imperative #1-6
  • The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1

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Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
Guardians of the Galaxy #25 (tie-in)
The remaining members of the Guardians of the Galaxy head to Sacrosanct and a reunited with the other Guardians they thought were dead. But a mindless Thanos has been unleashed and Martyr (Phyla-Vell) was the first to die at his hands. He’s gone on to kill the billions of followers of the Universal Church of Truth on this world. Star-Lord uses his Cosmic Cube’s one last shot to floor this indestructible incarnation of Thanos, releasing his mind and allowing Moondragon, Cosmo & Mantis to mentally lock him down. But the Council of the Guardians of All Galaxies in the year 3010 senses that this previously unrecorded event could trigger the Timeflux War that threatens the future.
Nova #36 (tie-in)
The real Quasar finally escapes the Fault and warns Nova and Darkhawk that the ‘Dark Quasar’ from the Cancerverse (Earth-10011) has locked down Project PEGASUS. ‘Dark Quasar’ has forced the infected PEGASUS staff to build the Horrorscope – a device that unleashes a Many-Angled Gatekeeper on Earth. Darkhawk is taken down. While Nova is busy sending it back to the Cancerverse, Dark Quasar to escapes…
Thanos Sourcebook #1
Nova’s files on the history of Thanos, the state of the universe, plus profiles on the major players in the cosmic tapestry.
Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1
When Thanos died at Drax’s hands, Adam Warlock put his body in a cocoon that was found by the Universal Church of Truth. Now he’s alive again, but he’s not happy about it. Gladiator, the Imperial Guard, King Blastaar’s forces, the Spartoi and the Inhumans head to the Fault to combat the Universal Church of Truth’s Templeships. Dark Quasar gets to the Templeships before Nova or the real Quasar can stop him. Adam Magus summons converted worlds to the Fault and detonates them to open the Fault even further. Thanos breaks free of his cell on Knowhere. Lord Mar-Vell of the Cancerverse emerges, kills Magus for failing to despatch Death’s new avatar and orders Dark Quasar to assemble the Revengers
The Thanos Imperative #1
The Fault is now wide open and the horrifying creatures from the other side spill into Reality-616, ripping into the Kree, Shi’ar, Inhuman and ships. They’ve entered a reality where death still exists and their masters, the Many-Angled Ones, can grow to fill it with their undying forms. The Cancerverse’s Revengers – dark, undying Avengers – attack the Nova Corps’ ship and take Namorita. The Guardians of the Galaxy free Thanos and a select group join him on a mission into the Cancerverse where Thanos collapses and a dark version of the Defenders loom over them…
The Thanos Imperative #2
The Silver Surfer joins the fight, bringing Galactus, Tenebrous, Aegis & the Celestials with him. Something called the Galactus Engine charges out of the Fault and heads directly for them. As another chronal anomaly, Major Victory is taken captive by the Revengers and held in Thanos’ old ship, Sanctuary, with Namorita and others. In the Fault, the Guardians quickly shut down the Defenders of the Realm, but they’re unable to die and get right back up. Thanos rises and proves capable of killing them…
The Thanos Imperative #3
Aegis is killed but passes her knowledge of their foes to Nova, informing him of Lord Mar-Vell’s whereabouts. Nova recruits Beta Ray Bill, Ronan the Accuser, Gladiator, Quasar and the Silver Surfer into his strike team. In the Fault, Thanos and the Guardians meet the Machine Resistance – the Vision, Jocasta, Machine Man & other robotic heroes of Earth-10011 – and are taken to their hidden base on Titan. They explain that the Mar-Vell of their universe accepted a pact with the Many-Angled Ones to save his own life and perform the Necropsy to end death. Only Thanos can undo it. Before they can head to the Sanctuary of this reality, Drax – overloaded in his role as an avatar of life by the Cancerverse – is compelled to attach an anti-matter charge to Thanos which disintegrates him…
Must ReadsTitle, Issue Number & Synopsis
The Thanos Imperative #4
Lord Mar-Vell studies the anomalous Namorita and others as part of his search for Death’s avatar when Nova’s squad attacks. Tearing through the Cancerverse’s Ex-Men, Spider-Man and Revengers, the team reach Lord Mar-Vell. But Nova finds himself completely outmatched. In the Fault, Death’s rejection of Thanos since his rebirth has left him unable to die. He painfully reconstitutes from scratch and obliterates Drax. Lord Mar-Vell senses this from our universe and teleports himself and the remaining Revengers to Titan in the Cancerverse, destroying Sanctuary as he goes…
The Thanos Imperative #5
When she sees the dying Vision of her universe , the Cancerverse’s Scarlet Witch reveals she’s been working with the Machine Resistance against her fellow Revengers all along. In Reality-616, Quasar’s quantum shields saved Nova’s squad  and the freed prisoners from certain death. The Galactus Engine is tearing through the allied forces and abstract beings. Nova breaks rank and heads into the Fault to find the Guardians, empowering Quasar with enough Nova Force to take over the Corps. But Lord Mar-Vell and the Revengers catch up with Thanos & the Guardians first, before they can reverse the Necropsy. In an unexpected move, Thanos bows to Lord Mar-Vell and asks for the release of death…
The Thanos Imperative #6
Nova arrives and frees the captured Guardians, but not before Lord Mar-Vell summons the Many-Angled Ones to perform the Necropsy on Thanos to end his life. Thanos’ imminent demise allows Death herself into the Cancerverse. She takes Lord Mar-Vell’s life which restores death to the entire reality, instantly weakening the Many-Angled Ones and destroying their warped armies on both sides of the Fault as it collapses. Death rejects Thanos again, enraging him enough to want to return and wipe out all life in the universe. Star-Lord orders the Guardians to return home, but remains behind with Nova to make sure Thanos remains trapped in the Cancerverse when it dies. Three days later, a memorial is held for Star-Lord, Nova, Drax, Martyr, Adam Warlock and all who died. The Xandarian Worldmind has recalled the Nova Force and shut down. The Fault has sealed and the Cancerverse has been annihilated.
The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1
One week later Blastaar’s forces assault Hala, with no Nova Corps or Guardians of the Galaxy to stop them. But, over the previous few days, Cosmo followed Star-Lord’s final wish and recruited Beta Ray Bill, Gladiator, Quasar, Ronan the Accuser and the Silver Surfer to guard the galaxy as the Annihilators to form when needed. The team arrive and send Blastaar back to the Negative Zone. Later, at Knowhere, Cosmo is discussing an impending Dire Wraith threat when Ikon of the Spaceknights arrives, looking to lead the team into battle immediately…
This issue also ties into ANNIHILATORS (2011)
Must ReadsIssue & FalloutEvent / Crossover
Annihilators #1-4 (2011)
With Ikon joining their ranks, the Annihilators learn Immortus is involved in the Dire Wraith’s latest plot to consume Galador’s sun.
FF #5-7 (2011)
The Inhumans return to Earth, setting Attilan up in the Himalayas again; Black Bolt is revealed to be alive, having survived his conflict with Vulcan and drifting out of the Fault.
Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4 (2012)
The Annihilators join forces with the Avengers to oppose the resurrected Magus and the Universal Church of Truth.
FF #21 (2012)
Black Bolt orders the separation of Crystal and Ronan, much to their regret, as part of a truce with the Supreme Intelligence.
Avengers Assemble #4-8 (2012)
The Avengers face Thanos when he is revealed to have returned to Reality-616; the Avengers are assisted by the reformed Guardians of the Galaxy, including Drax and Star-Lord who have somehow escaped the Cancerverse; the Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy are briefly banished to the Cancerverse.
Deadpool vs Thanos #4 (2015)
Death accepts Thanos back into her realm, though it’s short-lived.
Thanos: The Infinity Revelation (2014)
Adam Warlock and Thanos are revealed to be outside the normal laws of life and death due to their roles as avatars; Adam Warlock is resurrected; the Annihilators carry out their last mission, opposing Thanos.
New Avengers #9 (2013)
Thanos is revealed to have restored Sanctuary.

Avengers #16 (2013)
Ikon is revealed to have returned to the SpaceKnights.
Guardians of the Galaxy #18-20 (2014)
Flashbacks reveal the fate of Drax, Nova, Star-Lord & Thanos in the Cancerverse; Drax returned in his classic form, unable to truly die in the Cancerverse; Nova used the last of the energy in the Cosmic Cube to send Drax, Star-Lord & Thanos back to Reality-616, sacrificing himself.
Nova #10-11 (2016)
Following his death is the Cancerverse, Richard Rider’s consciousness is uploaded into the Xandarian Worldmind; Monark Starstalker accompanies the new Nova (Sam Alexander) into the Fault when he communicates with Richard Rider’s consciousness; the incident somehow results in Richard Rider’s resurrection and return to Earth.
Nova #1-7 (2017)
Nova’s time in the Cancerverse following Star-Lord, Drax and Thanos’ departure is explored; after his resurrection, Richard Rider suffers the psychological effect of exposure to the Canceverse and a dispute with the Worldmind; Sam Alexander helps Richard Rider free himself of the Cancerverse’s hold, with both returning to Earth as Nova

Free Comic Book Day: Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (2017)
The Nova Corps are revealed to have reformed, though they quickly come into conflict with the Guardians of the Galaxy; the Fraternity of Raptors are revealed to have become free agents, minus their android armour.
Darkhawk #51 (2018)
Darkhawk next clashes with the Fraternity of Raptors.
Fantastic Four #2-4 (2018-2019)
The parallel version of Namorita rescued by Nova is revealed to have made her way to Earth.
Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (2020)
Moondragon is defeated in battle by the Moondragon of Earth-18897 who merges with her, sharing their lives as one Moondragon; this essentially allows Moondragon to be reunited with Phyla-Vell, though it’s the Phyla of Earth-19987.
Annihilation: Scourge – Alpha #1 (2020)
The ‘Sentry’ and employs the Revengers of Earth-10011 to invade the Negative Zone.

Annihilation: Scourge – Nova #1 (2020)
The Revengers pursue Nova once again, attempting to infect him.

Annihilation: Scourge – Omega #1 (2020)
The ‘Sentry’ is revealed to be the disguised Void, separated from Bob Reynolds; their violent separation created a bridge between the Negative Zone and the Cancerverse, allowing him access to the Revengers; a Cancervrse infection tries to break into Reality-616, but is forced back by Nova and his allies.
Venom #35 (2021)
The war with Knull is revealed to have reopened the Fault, threatening to give the Cancerverse access to Reality-616 again; the Fault is sealed again  by Venom’s Symbiote Hive.
Heroes Reborn #4 (2021)
Doctor Spectrum of the ‘Heroes Reborn’ reality travels to Earth-10011 and absorbs the entire reality into his Power Prism in preparation to weaponise the Cancerverse against his reality’s Thanos.
Guardians of the Galaxy #16-18 (2021)
Due to Doctor Doom’s machinations as he prepares for the Reckoning War, Dormammu of the Dark Dimension possess Ego the Living Planet; Nova, the Guardians of the Galaxy and others repel Dormammu and banish him back to the Dark Dimension.
Fantastic Four: Reckoning War – Alpha #1 (2022)
The alternate Namorita is revealed to have joined Earth-616’s New Warriors.

See how this story fits into the wider Marvel Universe continuity with these reading orders:

A list of the Collected Editions that bring The Thanose Imperative story together…

War of Kings Aftermath: Realm of Kings Omnibus

  • Annihilators #1-4
  • Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #20-25
  • I am an Avengers #3 (part)
  • Nova #29-36
  • Realm of Kings #1
  • Realm of Kings: Imperial Guard #1-5
  • Realm of Kings: Inhumans #1-5
  • Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk #1-4
  • The Thanos Imperative #1-6
  • The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1
  • The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1
  • Thanos Sourcebook #1

Nova vol.6: Realm of Kings
Nova by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning – The Complete Collection vol.2

Both include…

  • Nova #36

Guardians of the Galaxy vol.4: Realm of Kings
Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning – The Complete Collection vol.2

All include…

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #25

The Thanos Imperative

  • The Thanos Imperative #1-6
  • The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1
  • The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1
  • Thanos Sourcebook #1

Guardians of the Galaxy by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning Omnibus

  • Annihilators #1-4
  • Annihilators: Earthfall #1-4
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #1-25
  • Logan’s Run #6
  • The Thanos Imperative #1-6
  • The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1
  • The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1

Reading Order ©OmniverseComicsGuide 2023

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