Shatterstar #5

Issue Date: 
April 2019
Story Title: 

Tim Seeley (writer), Carlos Villa (penciler), Juan Vlasco & Carlos Villa (inkers), Gerardo Sandoval (flashback artist), Carlos Lopez (colorist), Virtual Calligraphy's Cory Petit (letterer), Yasmine Putri (cover artist), Carlos Lao (graphic designer), Chris Robinson (assistant editor), Jordan D White (editor), CB Cebulski (editor-in-chief), Joe Quesada (chief creative officer), Dan Buckley (publisher), Alan Fine (executive producer)

Brief Description: 

The Grandmaster shows Shatterstar a vision of what his life could have been like – an army of Statterstars bred to rampage across worlds, fighting and slaying everyone in sight. Shatterstar struggles with this revelation, and also with having his atoms disassembled and re-formed by the Grandmaster. But it doesn't take long before he attacks the Grandmaster, slicing the cosmic being's head open while the citizens of Horus IV watch. However the Grandmaster is not harmed, and creates several doubles of Shatterstar to fight the warrior in the arena. Shatterstar's imprisoned tenants, meanwhile, devise a plan to escape from their cell, and Crimzor kills the warrior Xeus in the process. Shatterstar makes light work of his doubles, as the Grandmaster narrates part of Shatterstar's life, trying to encourage him to become a killer once more. Shatterstar's tenants arrive in the arena, and the Grandmaster makes them disappear. Shatterstar is worried he has killed them, but they seem to have been returned to their true reality after Shatterstar promises to become the Grandmaster's new star. The Grandmaster makes a long-winded speech, and doesn't notice Shatterstar carve an “X” into the ground – which suddenly opens a portal, transporting Shatterstar and the Grandmaster to an alternate world, where Shatterstar shoves his sword through the Grandmaster. The Grandmaster is surprised that he has actually been wounded, and Shatterstar informs him they are on Earth-1218, a universe that doesn't allow for super heroes and gods – the world where Tina Cooke came from. The Grandmaster is intrigued by this development, but isn't able to save himself as Shatterstar kicks the Grandmaster off a bridge, and then drops back into his portal before it closes. Shatterstar floats through space and time, lost, until a hand reaches out for him and pulls him back to his apartment block on Earth – it's Rictor. Shatterstar is bleeding badly, but glad to be reunited with his tenants and Rictor, who explains that he was able to tune into Shatterstar's vibrations to bring him home. Later, Goldon and Pug-Smasher establish a memorial for the deceased tenants Tina Cooke and the elderly Night Thrasher. Three weeks later, Shatterstar hosts a block party at Manor Crossing, which has welcomed several new tenants, and Shatterstar vows to live a life full of story that means something.

Full Summary: 

in vision:
Millions of Shatterstar's heirs. Clones created by mixing his unique genetics with those of his surrogate mate, Windsong. Countless Shatterstar duplicates hone their fighting skills, each shouting 'I am Shatterstar!' over and over. They possess incredible abilities in skill and battle – and have only one desire. They are unleashed upon the Multiverse by Mojo V and his deadly mage, Spiral, from their studio in the Wildways. The Shatterstars slay and conquer, planting television antennas into the ground in the name of their bloated leader and the god of ratings, Za – and in the process kill Cable, Domino, Warpath, Boom-Boom and Cannonball, before moving on to universe after universe, world after world, where they fight until they win. On one such world, they kill the warriors Goldon and Crimzor. They add enslaved beings to the network's captive audience, while in one reality, the human Tina Cooke hides from an army of Shatterstars. The Shatterstars burn their own images onto the infinite black – for all of eternity.

'This is what you gave up when you rebelled against Mojo and joined the rebellion, Shatterstar. This is the legacy you denied yourself when you came to Earth...and became Ben Gaveedra, landlord' the Grandmaster announces as he stands near Shatterstar, who is on his knees in the middle of a large fighting arena, while the citizens of Horus IV look on, watching them. 'I was... I was dead. I was in Hell' Shatterstar utters. 'Well, aren't you dramatic?' the Grandmaster smiles, before remarking that it is more accurate to say he disassembled his atoms and sent his essence to experience an alternate present, adding that he shared it with their adoring audience, as well.

In the cell off to the side of the arena, the End Woman tells her fellow prisoner, Goldon, not to worry, as Shatterstar is back. The Grandmaster informs Shatterstar that even now, his tenants cling to each other and the hope that he might rescue them. 'And thus begins episode five: The Conclusi-' the Grandmaster begins, before Shatterstar spins around and slices the top of the cosmic being's head off, in a bloody display.

'Hm' the Grandmaster mutters as his face begins to re-form. 'Fekt. What...what are you?' Shatterstar asks. 'As I've said before, but was rudely interrupted, I'm the last survivor of my species, gifted with the power primordial and immortality' the Grandmaster smiles, boasting that he is the muse of gamblers and providence of high stakes. Getting to his feet, Shatterstar asks the Grandmaster why he brought Gringrave here and helped her to orchestrate this charade. The Grandmaster explains that he has pitted himself against many opponents – Kang, the Prime Movers, the Avengers, the Maestro, and even Death herself. The Grandmaster holds up a small statue of Shatterstar and tells him that all of his opponents have been cunning and powerful, all of them great in their way, but all consumed with only winning, ultimately disinterested in the art of the game – and playing against everyone else. The Grandmaster hurls the statue of Shatterstar into the arena, where it transforms into a life-size version, as the Grandmaster remarks that Shatter was something new, that he inspired him to gather and audience and fill this forgotten arena here on Horus IV.

'All of this theatre so that many might witness the greatest Contest of Champions!' the Grandmaster declares. 'Za's vid!' Shatterstar gasps as the statue of himself splits into four versions, each representing Shatterstar from a different era, all with different costumes. His classic white one, his early red and white costume from X-Force, and the purple X-Force costume, along with a more modern, sleeker white costume. '...a gladiator whose very life is a game. A game played against himself!' the Grandmaster exclaims as Shatterstar's copies lunge towards him.

In front of the prison, the warrior called Xeus looks into the cell where Shatterstar's tenants are being held. Pug-Smasher asks Xeus to let them out so they can fight with Shatterstar, but Xeus tells Pug-Smasher that he gave his word. The End Woman sits next to Crimzor, while Goldon stands in front of them, arms folded. Crimzor asks what the point is, as this Grandmaster will stop at nothing to destroy Shatterstar, and they are doomed to die here, like Tina Cooke. But Goldon declares that Shatterstar gave them a home to share, and the End Woman remembers Gabbi. 'If I'm not there when she comes after school... she'll think I abandoned her, too' the End Woman worries. Crimzor declares that it is Shatterstar who abandoned them. 'Where was Shatterstar when the Death Sponsors and his kinky ex attacked, anyway?' he asks. Suddenly, Goldon turns to his friend and tells him to stop, that he is sick of his negativity. 'Oh, is that right, Goldon? Well, remember who got us cast off to that backwater world with its gladiator landlord in the first place' Crimzor mutters.

Crimzor continues, asking Goldon what kind of king he would have made. 'If you had just let me rule the Scorpus Citadel, our world wouldn't have tumbled into the maw of nothing' he claims. Goldon tells Crimzor to shut up, and lunges at him, while the End Woman wraps her arm around Crimzor's neck. 'Fools!' Xeus exclaims as he enters the cell, pulls Goldon away from Crimzor, who falls to the floor with the End Woman. 'Let me go! Let me smash his smug face!' Goldon exclaims. 'Indignant worms!' Xeus mutters. 'May I?' Crimzor smiles at the End Woman, who tells him that she is glad he finally picked up on her signals, as Crimzor starts removing her bionic leg. Pug-Smasher lunges at Xeus's leg, 'Stop drooling on me, beast' Xeus mutter as he tries to shake the small dog off of his leg, and pushes Goldon to the ground. Crimzor tells Pug-Smasher, calling him by his true name, Karl, to move aside, and raises a large weapon – the End Woman's gun-leg: 'This is for Tina' Crimzor snarls as fires the weapon, which sets Xeus ablaze. The tenants are able to leave the cell, as Goldon realizes that this was all a distraction tro get the End Woman's gun leg. 'I didn't mean any of it, did you, brother?' Goldon asks. Crimzor exclaims that he did – but they all know as well as he does that they will never find such reasonable rent in Queens again. 'Let's got get our damn landlord!' he declares.

Shatterstar battles his copies, while the Grandmaster's voice echoes around him, reminding Shatterstar how he saved Mojoworld when he fled the Cadre Alliance, and likely saved the entire Multiverse from Mojo V, and in doing so, gave up the fight, rejected his legacy as an unstoppable champion. Shatterstar slices off the head of one of his copies, while the Grandmaster reminds him that he was left with nothing but memories of blood and urder, with fading celebrity, with the lessons taught to him by Gringrave. Shatterstar is punched in the face by one of the others, as the Grandmaster remarks how Gringrave showed him, he embraced the elation of survival, and used the passion for death to fuel life. Another of the Shatterstars slices their sword into Shatterstar's shoulder, as the Grandmaster comments on how he resisted love, giving slavers nothing to use against him.

'And you gave yourself a new motive' the Grandmaster smiles. 'You sought out the weak. The outcasts. Refugees like you'. The Grandmaster points out that Shatterstar put them in one place, knowing inevitably that their pasts would come for them. Shatterstar slices through two of the doubles, tearing them from head to crotch. 'Or yours would' the Grandmaster remarks, as Shatterstar slices the final double into several pieces. 'And you'd have a reason to kill again. An excuse to fight' the Grandmaster points out. 'Quiet on the set...' a strange creature that was assisting the Grandmaster calls out from the edge of the arena, while the Grandmaster points out that every gladiator does it to make a good show. 'I'm sure your tenants understand' he adds, while suddenly, Shatterstar's tenants appear at the edge of the arena. 'Look, Goldon. We're on television' Crimzor smiles, while he holds the End Woman's leg-gun. The End Woman leans against Crimzor, while Goldon surveys his surroundings, and Pug-Smasher calls out to the Grandmaster, warning him to back away from Ben.

The Grandmaster asks Shatterstar to join him here on Horus IV for the next season of his life, to give his contests stakes, and make them mean something. 'And stop fighting yourself' the Grandmaster adds as he motions to the tenants, and seemingly disintegrates them. 'No... my tenants... please, I...' Shatterstar utters, dropping to the ground, shoving his swords into the arena floor, he explains that he was lost, aimless, that he missed all this – it's all he is. The Grandmaster smiles as he listens, while Shatterstar looks up at him and offers to stay, to be his star, that he will fight for him and kill for him. 'You will be my god' Shatterstar declares. The audience begins chanting Shatterstar's name, while the Grandmaster remarks that he bet to himself that Shatterstar would relent – and he never loses a bet.

The forms of the End Woman, Goldon, Crimzor and Pug-Smasher begin to rematerialize, swirling around the arena, as the Grandmaster thanks them for playing, and tells them that they win the right to continue to exist. They vanish again, only to re-appear on screens that hang over the arena. 'Let us end this episode with a tearful the supporting cast makes it way off  the stage forever. Teleported elsewhere, Goldon and Crimzor find themselves in the same location as Rictor, and Rictor and Goldon embrace.

The Grandmaster tells Shatterstar that he knows he is exhausted, but they need to tease the second season. 'Keep rolling when you're on a hot streak, I always say' the Grandmaster remarks, announcing that he has some springboards, and asking Shatterstar how he would feel about a reunion with Mojo V and Spiral, and they could also bring Windsong back into the picture, before suggesting that they could explore Shatterstar's earth in the year 2099. 'What a crossover battle that would be!' he jokes, unaware that Shatterstar has picked up his swords, after pulling them along the ground, creating a large “X” in the arena floor – the cracks in the “X” begin to glow. 'The possibilities are -' the Grandmaster begins, before he and Shatterstar vanish in the glow that rises up from the “X” - Shatterstar's teleport signal.

'What – did you do?' the Grandmaster asks as he and Shatterstar float through space and time – and re-materialize on a bridge in a large, sprawling city. 'What a pathetic, foolish gesture of resistance! Which of your tenants will die first?' the Grandmaster asks. 'Shall I teleport them aall into the acid atmosphere of Venus at once?' the Grandmaster suggests. 'Or perhaps your adoptive world will feel my wrathful – power?' the Grandmaster begins, before becoming confused as he raises his hand, and no power releases from him. Before he has a chance to react, Shatterstar shoves one of his swords into the Grandmaster's stomach, causing the cosmic being to drop to his knees. 'How -?' he utters, while Shatterstar announces that this is Earth-1218, and the Grandmaster remembers that this is a universe with rules too strict to allow for super heroes – and gods.

Shatterstar reports that he investigated a rift in space and came out here on this bridge to find a young woman who told him that people like him existed only in movies and comic books, so she asked if she could follow, to which Shatterstar explained to her that he only guided those lost in time and space – which she said described her perfectly. 'Tina Cooke' the shocked Grandmaster utters. 'She was a “banker” the gambler supreme and yet she wanted more. Ha'. The Grandmaster gets to his feet and admits to Shatterstar that he was bored, and that immortality is a curse in its way, for after millions of years there were no challenges left – every contest the same, and no gamble meant anything because he always knew the outcome. But now, he isn't sure. The Grandmaster realizes Shatterstar is weak, and that his portal will close in seconds. He wonders how he will get his power back, and whether he will recover. 'How could I possibly win at this?' the Grandmaster enquires. 'You can't' Shatterstar snaps as he kicks the Grandmaster backwards, while pulling his sword back out of his body – causing the Grandmaster to topple over the bridge railing, and plunge into the water underneath, while Shatterstar falls back into his glowing portal.

Shatterstar then floats through space and time, 'Home...' he utters as blood spills out from his wounds. Suddenly, he sees a large “X” glowing in the distance. He reaches out for it, when suddenly, a hand reaches through the portal, grabs Shatterstar and pulls him through – and out into the foyer of his apartment building.

'You've got him, Rictor!' the End Woman exclaims. 'Pull, you second-rate punk!' Pug-Smasher calls out as he pulls on Rictor, as Shatterstar collapses onto the ground. Rictor holds Shatterstar in his arms, while the End Woman kneels beside him and presses a cloth down on the wound on his chest, pointing out that his healing factor doesn't mean squat if all his blood is on the other side. Goldon and Crimzor stand behind Rictor, while Pug-Smasher shouts 'Don't die, Ben, and I'll never soil the entryway again!' Rictor smiles at Shatterstar, 'I've got you' he tells him. Shatterstar smiles back and asks Julio how he found him. 'Your powers...they run on sonic vibrations. Mine run on detecting and manipulating seismic activity' Shatterstar remarks, explaining that he just had to reach out across the universe and find Shatterstar's unique signature, key into his vibes, then enhance them and bring him home. 'You were right, Ric. Despite it all... you and I have always been on the same wavelength' Shatterstar utters, before he succumbs to the darkness.

A voice can be heard from a television: 'The match of the year... no, maybe the decade. It's the reigning champion... from Biloxi, Mississippi, and weighing in at 226 pounds...' as Pug-Smasher stands next to a television that is placed before the grave of the deceased elderly Dwayne Taylor, whose gravetone is marked “Thrasher of the Night”. 'There. Now he won't miss anything' Pug-Smasher adds, while Goldon tells him to wait, as he places a tablet, leaning against the television, directed at the grave of Tina Cooke, whose gravestone is marked “Friend, Seeker of the Truth. A report on the Fantastic Four is emitted from the tablet, and Shatterstar tells Goldon that is a nice touch, before suggesting they get home, as they have to meet their new neighbors.

Three weeks later, at Manor Crossing, where a  block party is underway. 'Where's my grilled kibble, capitalist scum?' Pug-Smasher calls out as he sits on the grass, while the End Woman and Gabbi Stoleto play with the dog Mitzi Moscowitz. Shatterstar stands at the barbeque, as Rictor talks to Kid Nighthawk, and Crimzor leans against a table, drinking, while Goldon sits at the table talking to thev green-skinned Anesthesia and her elderly, wheelchair-bound father. Crimzor tells Shatterstar that he thinks they will all fit in quite nicely, and that Kid Nighthawk is embarassingly agreeable, and he can already see his foolish brother falling for Anesthesia. 'I'm glad to hear it' Shatterstar smiles. Crimzor takes a burger that and sits down next to Shatterstar as he tells him that he has been wondering – is it true what the Grandmaster said? 'Was the god correct that I surrounded myself with all of you to give me a reason to fight?' Shatterstar asks. 'Yes. I suppose he was' Shatterstar smiles.

Shatterstar explains that he finds people complex and difficult to understand and that in his attempt to comprehend their motivations, he has tried to reduce them to simpler fictions, and when that was ineffectual, he believed that it proved that real life was nothing like the stories told for entertainment. Shatterstar adds that a life spent in front of the audience, begging for their approval, praying for a god to notice him – he thought that made him an outsider. But it doesn't. It just makes him like everyone else. Shatterstar is trying to surround himself with wonderful, complicated characters – he tries to live a story full of love and loss, winning  and losing – a story with stakes that means something. That's about something – a story that will be noticed.


Characters Involved: 


Crimzor, End Woman, Goldon, Pug-Smasher
Gabbi Sotelo
Mitzi Moscowitz
Anesthesia's father
Kid Nighthawk


Citizens of Horus IV

in illustrative images:
Mojo V
Boom-Boom, Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Warpath (all X-Force)
Tina Cooke, Crimzor, Goldon

Story Notes: 

Shatterstar was seemingly killed by the Grandmaster at the end of last issue.

The End Woman refers to Gabbi, a girl who she mentors as seen in Shatterstar #1.

Shatterstar send Rictor away through a portal in Shatterstar #2.

Tina Cooke was killed last issue, and the alternate reality Night Thrasher was killed in Shatterstar #1.

Anasthesia has previously appeared in Ant-Man & Wasp #1-3.

Shatterstar next appears in X-force (5th series).

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