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. However, some of its residents don't quite trust Mar-Vell's newly created world and the faith of his guardians has become shaken and they plan to rebel against him.. Another threat to Paradise is in the shape of Blastaar and Annihilus who don't appreciate the new realm encroaching into their territory, the Negative Zone. However, their invasion has taken them to New York.
Those still living on the Earth are cursed with immortality and forced to live with grievous wounds being inflicted upon them by Mephisto. The Guardians of the Galaxy have returned to Earth in search of answers as to how so much has changed. Shortly after the wedding of Medusa and King Britain, a Grey Gargoyle from another reality restores Excalibur and the former queen, Megan leaving Medusa without a husband once again.
Hyperion's origin, and to a degree the entire Squadron Supreme, are recounted by X-51 and Kyle Richmond. The Hyperion currently active in the series has his motivation for desiring death revealed in that he doesn't feel survivor's guilt so much as he wishes to rejoin his friends in the Realm of the Dead.
The Guardians of the Galaxy face off against the incoming invaders from the Negative Zone in the Baxter Building. Redwing grabs their attention by firing a Fantastic Four flare in their midst. The Law eventually shows up and join the fight until a hologram of Reed Richards is activated. He invites the Guardians to Latveria to talk over whether they should receive their own Terrigen Mists to aid them in their fight against the Badoon. Reed also means to find a way to help out Annihilius and the other inhabitants of the Negative Zone who are threatened by Mar-Vell's growing Paradise.
In the Realm of the Dead, Frank Castle decides the only way to convince his family that they no longer live is to kill them himself.
Jude the Entropic Man, recently captured by Reed Richards to help create a new death, threatens those living in Latveria with the promise that he will bring oblivion to everyone.
Much of this issue focuses on freedom, and the lack of it for most characters. Wolverine seems to be given the freedom to acknowledge that he's not truly a human in the sense that most other beings on Earth are in a scene that seems rather odd. As he's confronted by the Logan from an alternate reality (the same one from the Heralds mini-series), he seems to abandon what notion of humanity he has and accepts his more bestial nature. It's hard to really buy that Wolverine would let go so easily, but I suppose it's easier when you have nothing left to hang on to.
The Punisher is searching for freedom by killing his family. In a sense, death is the only true escape from a twisted reality. Which is ironic because he already is dead.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are trapped in a singular search for a means to win their war, and the beings in the Negative Zone are trapped in a universe that seems to be getting smaller and smaller.
This issue also introduces the notion that Death's Realm is actually a construct of the Elders of the Universe. A place where the various characters incarnations spanning across multiple realities are collected and reformed to shape a whole version. This extends to everyone in the universe, and is an attempt by the Elders to reform the universe they came from. The original universe. This is a fairly challenging concept, and one that would make them out to be just as manipulative as the Celestials who were the cause of these alternate realities. It'll be interesting to see how the rest of this series deals with this subject.
Interesting stuff. The last half of this series promises to be even grander than it first seemed.