I have done a lot of writing on Guardians of the Galaxy over the last couple years. I eagerly awaited the release of the film and documented this by offering insight and, hopefully, some education as to the details of these characters and the universe around them.
One piece of the mythology that I was excited to see in the film held a minor, but memorable, appearance, for many. This was (as one may have guessed from the title of this article) Cosmo, the Psychic Cosmonaut Dog.
Notable to anyone who has seen the film as the canine captive of the Collector who cuts out when the conflagration caused by Carina creates a catastrophe for the Collector’s collection, Cosmo (it wasn’t easy to get that many ‘c’s, I just want to bring that up) was included in Guardians of the Galaxy primarily as a part of an effort to add concepts and ideas directly from the source material. For hardcore fans of the Guardians, the excitement of seeing Cosmo the Spacedog was a small but meaningful moment where the world of the comics and the films coexisted.
My first experience with Cosmo had been in the second Guardians of the Galaxy series (which took place 1,000 years prior to the original series). Knowhere (the severed cosmic head satellite, in the film, the severed head of a Celestial, in the comics) was the base of the new/old Guardians and Cosmo was a colorful supporting character. I had not been aware that the character had shown up elsewhere and, as a tribute to the writing of Misters Abnett and Lanning, I thought that Cosmo and other elements of the early series were simply being introduced there.
However, the truth is that Cosmo first arrived as part of the Annihilation: Conquest event in Nova (Vol. 4) #8. As Marvel neglected to add the “Annihilation: Conquest” banner to those particular issues and as comics are expensive, I failed to pick those up when they were originally released. In addition, they were not part of the collected editions of that series. It wasn’t until recently, upon re-reading Conquest on the Marvel Unlimited app, that I read those issues of Nova and was excited to see the actual first appearances of Knowhere and Cosmo.
Also penned by Abnett and Lanning, this story tells of Richard Rider, a.k.a. Nova, on the run from Gamora and Drax who have been taken over by the alien techno-viral Phalanx, as he encounters the Knowhere station which sits near a portal to outside the known universe. At first, the station seems to be populated by alien superheroes who are all being transformed into undead horrors, but then, Rider encounters Cosmo and is… confused.
Cosmo communicates telepathically with a thick Russian accent. He wears a spacesuit with Soviet iconography on it and is in charge of security on the station. Immediately, it becomes clear that this character is something very different.
However, there were other aspects of the story that offered additional dimensions to an already interesting character.
When Nova encountered Cosmo, the population of Knowhere had been placed in hiding in a device that hung from Cosmo’s collar which was referred to as ‘a tesseracted storage device.’ Upon grasping the device, Nova found himself assaulted by the mental anguish and fear of those held within. It was somewhat glossed over, in the story, but the implication was that Cosmo had placed himself in a state of being constantly assaulted by the fear of the innocent citizens of Knowhere in order to protect them from the monstrous fate of a villain called Abyss.
Throughout the arc, Cosmo’s second-nature heroism is simply a part of the background. Willing to battle against unimaginable odds and do whatever it took to help others, the space dog can, ultimately, be viewed as the true hero of this story. He also is presented as a bad ass telekinetic, able to destroy one of the undead monstrosities with relative ease.
Despite having a mutual distaste with Rocket, Cosmo was a critical support member of the Guardians of the Galaxy when Peter Quill first gathered that team of cosmic outcasts. Assisting by helping to maintain their base on Knowhere while continuing his role as head of security, Cosmo is developed as a fantastic supporting character.
However, when Quill’s first team of Guardians self-destructs, Cosmo comes to the realization that they had a critical role in ensuring the safety of the universe. He decides to do something about this.
Keep in mind: most cosmic muck-a-mucks, at this point, simply decided to go on about their business. The lesser-known or supporting characters faded into the background after a series of events that had rocked the cosmos since the Annihilation Wave.
Perhaps it was his name. Perhaps it was fate, maybe. Cosmo the Space Dog did not go back to his job as head of security of Knowhere with a shrug of his canine shoulders. His eyes had been opened to the larger universe and the dangers that could jeopardize it at any moment. Cosmo decided to do something about this possibility.
He created the Annihilators.
The team was short-lived and, in fact, there were members of the team that questioned the name, but there can be no doubt that this was one of the most powerful super-teams ever to exist.
Let’s run-down the Annihilators, shall we?
Quasar, Protector of the Universe and wielder of the Quantum Bands which were empowered by raw cosmic energy.
Silver Surfer, Herald of Galactus, empowered by the power cosmic; the very energy that makes up the universe.
Ronan the Accuser, Kree Inquisitor and Arbiter of Justice, in whose hands the Universal Weapon can rearrange molecules or unleash relentless energies.
Gladiator, Emperor of the Shi’ar and the Superman of the Marvel Universe.
Beta Ray Bill, the alien cyborg who, when attacked by Thor, beat the crap out of him and took away his hammer, forcing Odin to forge Bill’s own hammer, Stormbreaker.
That’s one hell of a crew Cosmo put together (there was also a Spaceknight called Ikon who joined up with them, later on). Each member of this team had been, in some way, shape, or form, responsible for shaping the way the Marvel Universe functioned. Each of them required some level of convincing. Each of them saw the benefit of gathering, when needed, to protect, defend, enforce, or, when needed, annihilate in the name of the greater good for the Universe.
And it was all thanks to Cosmo.
So, when Howard the Duck asks why the Collector chooses to allow Cosmo to lick him, I have a pretty good idea why.
Because Cosmo is a good dog.
A very good dog.