The 1990s was not a classic era for mainstream superhero comics, and exemplifying that are the first three chapters of Cosmic Powers. They’re a grossly extended set-up for what follows, with the unlikely premise of Thanos gathering a group of Marvel villains whom he tasks with abducting a holy man on his behalf. Ron Marz provides barely enough plot for a third of the sixty pages this occupies, while Tom Grindberg’s art is gruesome in places. His characters have muscles where no muscles should exist.

Holy man duly abducted, we move to the main event, where Marz has given equally little thought to his plot. Thanos acquires some knowledge in a strained and time consuming fashion, yet it’s knowledge he could have discovered in innumerable easier ways. It takes not far short of a hundred tedious pages to reach the point where Thanos decides he wants to take on Tyrant, whose heavyweight credentials are established by his going toe to toe with Galactus. The endlessly foreshadowed conflict doesn’t occur until we’ve had four further chapters of various enormously powerful beings going through their paces. This is handled with almost zero wit or imagination. Marz attempts to fool readers with a dream sequences, an ambush, illusions, each of them utterly predictable in plots that are three-quarters padding. Marz only has to have one of his characters pick a fight and the next ten pages are sorted.

‘Grotesque’ about describes much of the art. Scot Eaton, Ron Lim, Jeff Moore and Andy Smith all work in standard 1990s style, filling their pages with extraneous lines, yet barely bothering about backgrounds. Lim (featured page) is the best of them, his layouts at least showing some imagination and the occasional application of time and effort, but his style is no better than the prevailing standard.

In the final chapter Marz provides strained biblical analogies to accompany the conflict the entire book has been leading to. Except he’s spent so many of the previous pages pitting one immensely powerful being against another that any spectacle, along with any plot, is now entirely redundant. Funkadelic once released an album titled Cosmic Slop, and anyone looking for cosmic thrills is better off with that.