How 'Nebula' #1 Creates a Clean Slate
Spoiler alert! Look inside today's debut ish!
Warning! This article contains spoilers for today's NEBULA #1, so read on at your own risk, True Believers!
How well do you know Nebula? Whatever you think you know, on Earth-616, she's always been a blackheart. From her introduction in AVENGERS (1963) #257, Nebula has claimed that Thanos is her grandfather, and she has forged her own destiny as an intergalactic villain. Now, writer Vita Ayala and artist Claire Roe are teaming up for the first ever NEBULA solo series. And they just might redefine Nebula’s place in the Marvel Universe.
To better understand Nebula’s near future, it’s essential to look back at her past. When Thanos returned to life before INFINITY GAUNTLET (1991), he not only denied Nebula’s claims, he burned her alive while pretending to be incredulous at the mere idea of having children. The fact that Thanos’ son, Thane, eventually showed up in INFINITY (2013) means that we can’t simply dismiss Nebula’s claims. Thanos has clearly had children, but Nebula’s familial link to Thanos has yet to be definitively proven.
In SILVER SURFER (1987) #70-72, Nebula was transformed into a cyborg to facilitate her recovery from her ordeal at Thanos’ hands. She remained a scourge in the universe as recently as ASGARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2018). However, Nebula has also shown a more vulnerable side in other stories. Nebula joined forces with Champion, Starfox, and Thane in THANOS (2016), and she briefly found carnal comfort with Champion. During GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2019) #6, Nebula seemingly showed sincere remorse for her actions towards Gamora, even though her attempts at a reconciliation fell on deaf ears.
The Nebula we see in this series is very much a throwback to her original incarnation. Ayala and Roe demonstrate Nebula’s ruthless streak when she kidnaps a young girl named Nira in order to blackmail her father, Designer Lahar. Nebula is particularly unrepentant about the beings she killed to get to Nira, or about the bomb she claims to have implanted in Nira’s head. Nebula’s actions are vile, but also in the service of her current goal. She wants Lahar to implant the All-Seer into her body.
Despite the rumors that Nebula's heard, the All-Seer can’t actually predict the future. But what it can do is almost as valuable. Once inside Nebula’s body, it allows Nebula’s cybernetics to instantly conduct a real-time analysis of her available actions and the probability of their success. Make no mistake, that kind of power in Nebula’s hands is not a good outcome for the universe.
Fortunately, the universe has an unlikely ally in the form of Devos the Devastator. Since his debut in FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #359, Devos has established himself as one of the most single-minded and deadly individuals in the galaxy. In his own mind, Devos is “the avatar of balance for the universe.” But morally, he’s no better than Nebula is, since he also wants to murder Lahar for creating the All-Seer.
Even with the All-Seer installed, Nebula can barely mount a fight against Devos. She manages to escape with her life, but a subsequent crash-landing on an alien planet has serious consequences for Nebula. When she is found by a passerby, Nebula realizes that all of her memories have been wiped and she no longer knows who she is. This could potentially allow Nebula to redefine herself without the legacy of Thanos dragging her down.
Regardless, Nebula has plenty of sins of her own to atone for, and she won’t be able to run from her past for long. Devos is still on her trail, and the hunt for Nebula is only getting started.
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