Mar-Vell has killed Death and built a heaven for all the fallen heroes. X-51 has made every alternate Earth aware of the Celestial embryo dwelling within it. Set some time after the events of Universe X, the world seems to be in a state of stability and the dead are finally being granted their reward. However, even paradise has a price.
Mar-Vell's new Paradise is composed of antimatter and resides in the Negative Zone. The guardians he has appointed ensure its expansion is met with little resistance. Those still living on the Earth are cursed with immortality and forced to live with grievous wounds. X-51 is confronted by the Guardians of the Galaxy who wish to know what has changed the Earth in the last 30 years.
Vance Astro questions X-51 about the events that have recently transpired on Earth. X-51 launches into a recap of Vance's life as a child meeting his future self and his later years as a member of the New Warriors and Avengers. Major Victory is a Vance from an alternate future as the Vance in the current one died with the birth of The Skull. Kyle Richmond arrives after the Guardians depart. The Guardians soon arrive at the Inhuman hidden city and are confronted by Karnak.
Matt Murdock glances through various personal Paradises at the request of Steve Rogers. Though they appear as dream worlds, they're as real as any other thanks to the Cosmic Cube ingested by each resident. Steve then heads back to the Realm of the Dead to attempt to bring the Punisher, Frank Castle, to Paradise. Also watching Castle enjoy the afternoon with his family are the Kingpin, Jackal, and Jigsaw who are unable to accept the newly formed Paradise. Kingpin plans on making Castle's life a living hell when he comes upon his wife, Vanessa.
The heroes assembled by X-51 wander through New York when Spider-Girl sees Peter Parker being chased by Venom. The two begin to fight and Peter is immediately aware that she's from an alternate reality and this is all some big misunderstanding. I guess he really has seen it all.
Medusa prepares for her wedding to Brian Braddock to unite their two peoples. Meanwhile in New York, J. Jonah Jameson tells Dr. Strange that the one who is mortally wounding the undying residents of Earth is the being who once thought of himself as Mephisto, now hungry for revenge.
The story is progressing at a decent pace, although the revelation about Mephisto makes one wonder as to what motivates the formless aliens. Loki chose benevolence when he realized he was in control of his destiny, though I suppose Mephisto's choice is more logical considering how much more he had been manipulated.
The little scene with Peter Parker instantly aware of the oddness of his situation was nicely handled. It's nice to see him depicted as someone who really has seen it all instead of the immature kid he's often played up as.
While everything may be moving at a nice pace, I can't say this issue carries the same weight as the previous series openers. Mar-Vell's Paradise is defective, and Mephisto is maiming people. With Cosmic Conscious it shouldn't be too tough for Mar-Vell to fix Paradise, even if he's cut off from his mortal self. When a character is given that much power and perspective, it's hard to imagine them erring, or that they don't even recognize their error. It's hard to imagine an explanation of how such a being could be fallible, but I am interested in finding out what it may be.
Story seems thin so far, but still good.