One of the fan-favorite figures from the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back from the dead in the comics. The Marvel Universe and the MCU are separate entities, though it’s not uncommon to see one influence the other. A major example of this happened when Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson joined a Black Nick Fury in the comics. Agent Coulson died in the MCU and comics, though the MCU brought him back as a central part of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And now we’ve reached the point where Agent Phil Coulson‘s comics return has arrived as well.

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Thanos Annual #1. Continue reading at your own risk!

Thanos Annual #1 comes from the creative team of Derek Landy, Salvador Larroca, Guru-eFX, and VC’s Cory Petit, with a backup story by Landy, Sara Pichelli, Mattia Iacono, and VC’s Travis Lanham. It kicks off the new “Infinity Watch” crossover that’s taking place across Marvel Annuals this summer. It’s Thanos Annual‘s backup story titled “The Death Stone Saga” we’re concerned with today. It picks up immediately following the events in the main story in the Thanos Annual, with the new Death Stone leaving Thanos to seek out a human host. 

Nighthawk is hot on the trail of the Death Stone, tracking it to a cemetery in Wisconsin using an Infinity Stone scanner. He’s confused about there being a new Infinity Stone when there’s only been six in existence. When Nighthawk reaches out to grab the stone, it zaps him with a bolt of energy and begins to transform, bringing a skeleton out of its grave and reanimating it. Once the Death Stone enters the chest of the skeleton, it begins forming skin and hair until it takes on the form of the formerly dead Agent Coulson. His gravestone reads, “RIP Phillip ‘Cheese’ Coulson. He loved heroes and was one.”

(Photo: Agent Phil Coulson back from the dead in Marvel’s Infinity Watch event. – Marvel Comics)

How did Agent Coulson die in the Marvel Comics Universe?

(Photo: Deadpool and Agent Phil Coulson in Marvel’s Secret Empire – Marvel Comics)

Whereas Loki killed Phil Coulson in The Avengers, his comic book counterpart met an untimely fate ahead of Marvel’s Secret Empire. The event featured a Hydra-influenced version of Captain America attempting to take over the world. Agent Coulson started to distrust Cap, and when our evil Captain America learned of Coulson’s snooping, he ordered Deadpool to kill him. Even though Coulson and Deadpool were best buds, Deadpool was loyal to Cap and followed through on those orders.

Coulson also returned during Jason Aaron’s tenure on Avengers, serving as a liaison for Mephisto’s Squadron Supreme. During the second Heroes Reborn event, Mephisto banished Coulson inside an artifact called the Pandemonium Cube.

What is Marvel’s Infinity Watch about?

(Photo: Cover of Avengers Annual #1, the finale of the Infinity Watch crossover  – Marvel Comics)

“Infinity Watch” spans nine annuals this summer and is spearheaded by writer Derek Landy (Captain America/Iron Man). In addition to writing key chapters of the event, Landy will team up with artist Sara Pichelli on backup stories in each of the nine annuals that follow the creation and pursuit of the mysterious Death Stone-bearer who will be revealed in Thanos Annual #1. “The saga will follow up on previous Infinity Stone stories with the return of recent bearers including Star, Overtime, Prince of Power, Quantum, and Multitude, as well as introduce you to the new Mind Stone-Bearer, Worldmind, for the first time!” Marvel’s press release reads. “As they deal with their god-like powers and mistrust from their peers, Thanos, fresh off his own dramatic transformation in Christopher Cantwell’s recent Thanos limited series, begins a bloody march to claim his dark destiny once more.”

“When you write for Marvel, it’s all you can hope for to add your thread to the massive tapestry of stories that has been unfolding since 1961,” Landy said. “To be asked, then, to spearhead this next chapter is a prospect beyond my paltry imagination. I get to work on characters I’ve never written before — Thanos! Hulk! — and drag them into the story beside the new generation of heroes like Ms. Marvel and Spider-Boy. Thankfully, there is absolutely no pressure because comic fans are a notoriously easy-going bunch who are prepared to forgive if—oh dear God.”

 Agent Phil Coulson is back from the dead in Marvel’s Infinity Watch.  Read More