Jim Krueger and Alex Ross are back with Doug Braithwaite, Stephen Sadowski, and Thomas Yeates for the final installment of the Earth X series. Paradise X is split into two volumes, the first collecting 0-5, Heralds 1-3 and Xen, the last has 6-12, A and X, Devils, Ragnarok 1 & 2, and the Special Edition. Again, not a big fan of adding so much supplemental story to an already lengthy main story since it reeks of cash grab, but they are pretty interesting and at least help to further the plot.
Jim Krueger brings his epic tale to a dramatic close fulfilling his promise to give a new metacontextual understanding to this alternate Marvel Universe. It’s not a complete success; there are some problems with the pacing, and the art is a little muddy in places, but he does finish his story.
This book follows up with Death destroyed and Captain Marvel creating a Paradise in the center of the Negative Zone, an area controlled by dangerous creatures. Captain Marvel then transforms the souls of 7 prominent characters into the Avenging Host that is tasked with guiding the souls along. By entering Paradise, they consume part of the Cosmic Cube (yes, the same Cosmic Cube that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe) granting them their own perfect reality. The dead soon overwhelm the confines of the Negative Zone, which brings them into direct conflict with Annihilus, ruler of that realm.
A direct consequence with Captain Marvel’s destruction of Death is that no one on Earth can die. This was not the blessing they wanted, since many people just ended up suffering without the release that death would grant them. The greatest scientific minds, including Mr. Fantastic, Bruce Banner, and the Beast decide to synthesize the powers of Jude the Entropic Man who could turn people to dust by touching them so that they can relieve those in pain.
Mephisto, who is a Devil/Demon character, tries to use Jude to start a killing spree so that he could get to a device that would allow the demon access to the multiverse. Captain Marvel and Mr. Fantastic come to blows as it is revealed that Mr. Fantastic is to become the living embodiment of Eternity. Pretty heavy concept, but in the Marvel Universe, several cosmic entities take on a physical form Eternity being one of them. By becoming Eternity, Mr. Fantastic can resolve the conflict and free the souls from their Cosmic Cube dreams.
One of the things I learned after reading this installment is that Krueger had to change his intended ending due to editorial conflict. Sales for the book weren’t what was expected so he had to shorten the climax, thus changing the ending. I’ve heard a few stories about the original intentions and I really think that Marvel should have taken the long approach on this one and let Krueger finish his story as envisioned. Since books make more money in collected form, having the extra pages so the story is complete. In any way, this was still a satisfying ending to the Earth X series, and I urge all those who enjoy Marvel characters and stories to read these.