Superhero Origins: Drax the Destroyer

Written by Michael Wynands What’s green, covered in red tattoos, has two knives and is obsessed with killing Thanos? This guy! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Guardian of the Galaxy and former Infinity Watch member, Drax the Destroyer. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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What’s green, covered in red tattoos, has two knives and is obsessed with killing Thanos? This guy! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we will explore the comic book origin of Guardian of the Galaxy and former Infinity Watch member, Drax the Destroyer.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline which unfolded in 1973’s “Iron Man” #55 and 1974’s “Captain Marvel” #31, #32, & #33.

He was once a simple family man from earth, but when a chance encounter with Thanos ripped his world apart, his spirit was given a new form courtesy of the Eternals. With superhuman strength, stamina, durability, a helpful healing factor and a single-minded sense of purpose, he was tailor made for one not so simple task - destroying the Mad Titan.

Drax was first introduced in “Iron Man” #55. With his debut, the Destroyer made clear, to both Tony Stark and readers alike, the intensity of his desire to kill Thanos. This particular issue also offered up the story of Drax’s creation in the form of flashback, albeit an abridged version of it. Seeing the evil ways of his son Thanos, Mentor, a powerful Eternal, turned to his father, the disembodied Kronos, to create a champion strong enough to destroy his power hungry descendent. Thanos was defeated by the combined efforts of Iron Man and Drax… but was revealed to be nothing but a robot. What? You didn’t think the Mad Titan would go down that easy, did you?

It wasn’t until a year later, in the pages of Captain Marvel, where he’d served as a recurring character beginning in issue #27, that Drax’s full, heartbreaking origin story was revealed, and with it, a personal connection to the Mad Titan, adding some much needed weight to his vendetta. What unfurled in 1974’s “Captain Marvel” #32 was a tragic tale of loss that truly humanized the green-skinned warrior.

Despite his alien appearance, Drax was revealed to be, at least in spirit, Earth man Arthur Douglas, a real estate agent from Los Angeles, husband, father and Elvis Presley fan. While driving home from seeing the king perform in Vegas in 1953, they were happened upon by Thanos, who, during his first scouting mission on earth, felt it necessary to kill the family rather than risk them living to tell the tale. And so, Arthur Douglas’ consciousness was taken and placed in a new body, though devoid of all memories of his past life, and given a driving purpose - destroying Thanos.

Of course, in this story, it was also shockingly revealed that Moon Dragon was none other than his daughter, Heather, who had survived the wrath of Thanos, but that’s an origin story for another time.

Through the combined efforts of Moon Dragon, Captain Marvel, Drax and the Avengers, Thanos was defeated and ultimately destroyed, though by Mar Vell, not Drax. Enter the existential crisis! What’s a guy who was reborn with the express purpose of killing of someone supposed to do with himself after the job’s done - specifically, by someone else? Well, thankfully, he didn’t have to wait too long, as Thanos’ inevitable resurrection would be announced in 1976’s “Captain Marvel” #44.

Thus began a long cycle of death and resurrection for both Thanos and Drax, as they would continue to battle to the death for decades to come. In one of the most notable instances, 1992’s “Warlock and the Infinity Watch” #7, the age old enemies were resurrected almost simultaneously, Thanos by Mistress Death and Drax by Kronos, though, much to Drax’s frustration, Thanos proved not be the enemy this time around. It would however, result in Drax being given the power gem and becoming a member of the Infinity Watch.

In his seemingly endless quest, Drax has undergone a number changes in appearance, power level, intelligence, and mental maturity - often after having been killed and subsequently resiurected. Alongside these fluctuations, he also struggles with inconsistent memories, sometimes remembering his life as Arthur Douglas, other times knowing only his Kronos-given purpose. Perhaps the most important change however, came in 2005, when he lost his purple outfit. This Drax-centric miniseries would prove his most significant resurrection yet, as the character finally earned his red tattoos following a death and rebirth on the same planet where it all started - Earth.

Shortly afterwards, he would return to space and go on to join the Guardians of the Galaxy, where he would continue to duke it out with his arch nemesis, the Titan who won’t stay dead - Thanos.
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