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Before 'Avengers 4': All the Marvel Storylines Called 'Endgame'

There have been a lot of "Endgame" comics in Marvel history. But are any useful when it comes to predicting the plot of the next 'Avengers' movie?

And so, now we know: Avengers: Endgame. It’s a title that brings with it an appropriate sense of finality and, perhaps, desperation — which is, again, appropriate considering the way that Avengers: Infinity War went. But is it a title that has a Marvel Comic nook backstory? Well … yes and no.

While it’s undeniable that Marvel has used the title “Endgame” as a title a lot in its history — as will be demonstrated momentarily — it’s difficult to really draw any particular connection to, or meaning in, its selection as the subtitle for the fourth Avengers movie, beyond the obvious. For all we know, there’s as much to infer from the fact that “Endgame” was also the title of two entirely separate 2015 films as there is from any previous Marvel comic. But just in case, here are the (many) uses of the title in Marvel’s history to draw inspiration from.

Avengers No. 71 (1969)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? In the final chapter of a story pitting the Avengers against time-traveler Kang the Conqueror, three Avengers are sent to 1941 to fight Marvel heroes of that era, while former villain the Black Knight rescues the remainder of the team from Kang in the year 4001.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Fantastic Four No. 157 (1975)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? No, it’s called “The Endgame Cometh,” somewhat wonderfully.
What Happens? A showdown between the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom is complicated by the fact that Doom has a new cosmic-powered robot he calls the Doomsman II (because the Doomsman I was destroyed earlier, of course). The fight ends in a stalemate when Doom realizes how much destruction to his own property the robot is causing. No, that’s honestly how it ends.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

The Invaders Annual No. 1 (1977)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? No, it’s called “Okay Axis — Here We Come!” “Endgame” is used as the title for the final chapter of the issue.
What Happens? In an after-the-fact crossover with Avengers No. 71 from eight years earlier, readers get to see the fight between the Avengers and the heroes of WWII from the point of view of the old-school heroes. Who said superhero comics have an insular, confusing continuity?
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Iron Man No. 165 (1982)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? If nothing else, the title for this issue is well chosen, as Tony Stark’s armored alter-ego faces off against a number of chess-themed villains while attempting to rescue Jim Rhodes from a death trap. As it turns out, he’s not even in the expected death trap, but an entirely separate one with killer spiders. (He still gets rescued.)
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

The Mighty World of Marvel No. 12 (1983)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? Even Watchmen writer Alan Moore isn’t safe from re-using titles, as becomes clear in this final chapter of his “Jaspers Warp” storyline, as Captain Britain has to face off against the reality-warping villain Jim Jaspers, as well as the unstoppable killing machine the Fury.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown No. 4 (1989)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? The two X-Men conclude their spinoff adventure together by preventing a nuclear meltdown in Russia — yes, that’s where the name of the series comes from — at the hands of a bad guy whose name is also Meltdown. There’s something to be said for being thematically consistent.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

X-Factor Nos. 65-68 (1991)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Three quarters of the four-part story use “Endgame” as an overall title, with each issue having a subtitle. Bizarrely, the final chapter drops “Endgame” altogether.
What Happens? Closing off a number of plotlines from the series as a whole before the early 1990s relaunch of the entire X-Men line, the multi-part “Endgame” storyline sees the original X-Men have what they believed was a final showdown with the villain Apocalypse, which results in Cyclops giving up his baby Nathan to a stranger from the future after he becomes infected with a techno-organic virus, which will — through a series of complicated plot mechanics — later transform him into Cable.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Marc Spector: Moon Knight No. 40 (1992)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? For the second time, Doctor Doom provokes an endgame, as mercenary hero Moon Knight ends up adopting an Iron Man-esque suit of high-tech armor to survive a showdown with the supervillain dictator.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Thunderbolts No. 12 (1998)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? A year into the series’ original run, the storyline that had run from the opening issue — which I will not spoil here, because it’s worth going into without the twist being revealed — comes to a close, as the Thunderbolts go up against seemingly unbeatable odds to save the world. (Don’t worry, the odds prove to be beatable after all.)
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Warlock No. 4 (1999)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? Adam Warlock, the hero most closely associated with both Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, closes out a run that involves neither, as he instead fights with aliens in the Negative Zone.
Is There A Thanos Connection? Surprisingly, no.

Warlock No. 9 (2000)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? Your eyes aren’t deceiving you; a year after a comic called Warlock had a story called “Endgame,” an entirely different comic, also published by Marvel and called Warlock, has a story called “Endgame.” To make matters stranger, it features an entirely different character called Warlock — this one, an X-Men-adjacent robot — who is trying to stop robots infected with a variant on the same techno-organic virus that Cyclops’ kid had way back in the X-Factor comics earlier. Again, I don’t know why people think that superhero comics are overly complicated.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Gambit Annual 2000 (2000)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? The full title of the issue is, wait for it, “Assassination Game: Epilogue — Endgame?” Yes, with the question mark.
What Happens? The end of a four-part storyline that had seen all manner of villains — some of whom were formerly Gambit’s friends, and in one case, wife — compete with each other for the chance to kill the X-Man. He lived, although it took a guest-appearance from a bunch of other X-Men to make sure.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Iron Fist/Wolverine No. 4 (2001)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? All kinds of guest-stars show up in the final issue of a series intended to bring Iron Fist back to prominence within Marvel’s comic book universe, as Danny Rand fights to preserve the honor of being Iron Fist, and Wolverine raises the profile of the series considerably.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Thanos No. 6 (2003)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? Having survived all manner of adventures, Thanos — at this point, a somewhat misanthropic anti-hero as much as anything — finds himself restoring planets and lecturing cosmic entities on the consequences of their actions, having first seemingly destroyed the personification of the abstract concept of hunger. He hadn’t actually succeeded of course, because comics.
Is There A Thanos Connection? Obviously, yes.

Spider-Girl Vol. 5: Endgame (2006)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? None of the stories in this collected edition are called “Endgame”; that’s merely the title for the overall collection.
What Happens? The future daughter of Peter Parker from an alternate timeline fights a bunch of villains in a collection of stories that, honestly, has no real reason to be called “Endgame” at all, to be perfectly honest.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

The Irredeemable Ant-Man No. 6 (2007)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? In a twist on expectations, there’s less “end” to this “endgame” than beginnings; it’s the final chapter of the character’s origin story, and sets up the series that follows as a crappy former SHIELD agent uses stolen technology to become someone who’s almost kinda a superhero, maybe … ?
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

Black Panther No. 34 (2008)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Technically, it’s called “Endgame — Conclusion,” even though no previous issue in the storyline had been called “Endgame.”
What Happens? In what treads the line between inspired and disrespectful, T’Challa and the Fantastic Four — which he was leading at the time — save the world from a planet of shape-changing Skrulls with the help of a group of Skrulls pretending to be Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, who call themselves the Panthers.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

The Incredible Hulk No. 608 (2010)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? Part of a massive ongoing storyline that included multiple Hulks, both good and evil (and multiple Hulk comic book series, as well; there was also an adjective less Hulk comic at the time, as well as Red Hulk and The Savage She-Hulks mini-series), this “Endgame” isn’t even a final chapter, but it sees Bruce Banner and friends attempt to prevent everyone being turned into Hulks.
Is There A Thanos Connection? No.

The Ultimates No. 11 (2016)
Is The Story Called “Endgame”? Yes.
What Happens? While the rest of the Marvel heroes are involved in the then-ongoing Civil War II storyline, the Ultimates find themselves up against Thanos as he attempts to take advantage of the chaos for nefarious purposes.
Is There A Thanos Connection? Yes.

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