March 14, 2010

Marvel Snapshot: Character Spotlight: Thanos

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Written by: Billy
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Hello everybody and welcome back to another great character spotlight here on Marvel Snapshot. If you didn’t catch last weeks column, you might be a little lost with this new format so I suggest going back over that one to get acquainted with this new direction.

In this week’s column, we’ll take a peek at a character thought dead but also about to make his triumphant return to the Marvel cosmos. Yes, Thanos of Titan is back folks and he doesn’t seem pleased as far as I can tell by the artwork that’s been previewed. I did a little write-up on this very subject right here a few weeks ago. I for one am glad he’s back and I know there will be some detractors about this but honestly, who doesn’t want an almost omnipotent nihilist, bent on total universal destruction around? Exactly, nobody! So here’s a little background on the man who apparently wants to make love to a bag of bones.

Thanos was created by cosmic genius Jim Starlin in 1973. His first appearance was in Iron Man #55 (believe it or not!) but immediately after that, he went on to stay in Marvel’s cosmic scene along side Captain Marvel, The Silver Surfer, etc. Thanos was born on the planet of Titan, to his father, Mentor, who also had another son, the one-time Avenger Eros (Starfox). Thanos was born an Eternal but more resembled a Deviant, so he felt alienated and kept to himself. After he grew older, he use bionics, and mysticism to augment his strength and then alien technology to create weaponry and a force-field. At this point in his life, he also started to worship Mistress Death (the “living” embodiment) and become a nihilist. He also earned the name of Mad Titan. Thanos was so obsessed with impressing Mistress Death, that he bombed his home planet and killed millions of his own race! His mother was thought to be among them but later on we find out that he abducted her and then, dissected her!

Thanos eventually gets over trying to impress Death (by just simply killing) and decides to take over the universe. He begins a quest to find a Cosmic Cube and eventually does, but after using it to destroy a ton of heroes, he discards it thinking it’s out of power. At this point Captain Marvel destroys it and all of Thanos’ handiwork is undone. It is during this plot-line that Thanos thinks he killed two Earth people but his grand-father Kronos, saves the people’s spirits and creates Drax and Moondragon using their essence. Again though, Thanos comes back to join forces with his long time nemesis Adam Warlock to stop The Magus (Adam’s evil futuristic self). They succeed but in doing so, Thanos siphons off some of Warlocks SoulGem and uses that power to find the other gems and build a machine to kill everybody. He actually kills Warlock, whose spirit then enters the body of Thanos and turns him to stone.

At this point in Thanos’ life is we get to read about his return in, Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos. He basically gets a “get out of death free card” compliments of- you guessed it, Mistress Death. He then decides to compile all the Infinity Gems which leads directly into The Infinity Gauntlet. In this particular story, Thanos achieves ultimate power and wipes out 90% of the universe’s heroes. He even pimp slaps Eternity! As always though, he’s out-witted by Adam Warlock and maybe even himself. This is my personal favorite Thanos story because of the interaction with all the heroes and even the partnership Thanos has with Mephisto (no, not that kind of partnership).

We don’t see a whole lot of Thanos after this until his re-emergence in The Avengers limited series, Avengers: Celestial Quest. This particular tale is a bookend to the 1974-75 storyline contained in the Avengers TPB- Celestial Madonna. In this series we see Thanos try to kill Mantis and all her alternate reality versions of herself. He then sets his sights on her son, and tries to kill him to. That in my opinion is also a very good story, but I’m an Avengers lover so I guess I’m a little partial. Thanos went on to be the main focus in another cool limited series called Marvel: The End. This six issue series showed some crazy Egyptian Pharaoh finding a power of cosmic origins that basically gave him the upper-hand against any of Earth’s heroes. Dr. Doom has some really cool moments where he out-wits the Pharaoh, but even he gets put in his place eventually. Once again, another really cool series from the mind of Starlin. This was followed up by a twelve issue series starring Thanos that was broken up into two parts. Issues 1- 6, were dubbed Epiphany, while 7- 12 were called Samaritan. Both plot-lines were OK but I personally didn’t care too much for the second idea.

Thanos kind of fell off the radar shortly thereafter but did have a pretty integral role in Annihilation in 2006. He teamed up with Annihilus and initially helped subdue Galactus but then learns that Annihilus wants to destroy the universe so he tries to set Galactus free. Before he can do this though, he’s attacked by Drax and killed. Later on in Annihilation, Nova sees Thanos side by side with his woman, Mistress Death…

Again, I can’t tell you how cool I think it is that Thanos is back. The dude is as bad as they come and although he always seems to be outsmarted in the end, I think this go-around will be different! If you don’t have faith in Marvel because of all the resurrections, at least have faith in their best writers currently in Abnett & Lanning. These two dudes are the best thing since Starlin, and do him justice with their current runs on Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy. If you don’t read those titles you are really missing out on some spectacular writing and brilliant artwork. Here’s some suggested reading to get you up to speed on this character before his ominous return in April!

Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos (1990)
Infinity Gauntlet (1991)
Avengers: Celestial Quest (2001-02)
Marvel: The End (2003)
Thanos LS (2004)
Annihilation (2006)

Billy Dunleavy



  1. infinite speech

    Thanos is a COSMIC BEAST! Infinity Guantlet got me back into him and I was hooked ever since. I actually think he may do some serious damage when he comes back to rip the galaxy a new one. I was a little ticked that he died at Drax’s hand (literally). Hopefully he targets him for revenge as well.I

  2. Aron White

    What an awesome article on an awesome character! I’ve read bits and pieces of the Infinity Guantlet (when it was around, I was still a grocery store reader and pickins were slim when it came to certain series) and I’ve often been tempted to get the TPB. I think now I will!
    I’m glad he’s coming back, too! I agree with you that Abnett and Lanning are at the top of the hill when it comes to cosmic comics and Thanos is in good hands! It’s gonna be awesome! I hope they find a way to bring back the 31st Century Guardians for more than just cameos, too!

    The future of Marvel Cosmic looks bright!

  3. Thanks for that reading list Billy. I REALLY need to catch up!!

  4. billy

    @Speech-Yeah, I know Drax was created to kill Thanos but he just doesn’t look like he’s tough enough, and he’s no wuss.
    @Aron-Thanks Aron. Definitely get the Tpb, it’s worth the price tag. Try or Amazon. It retails for $30 (I think) with no discount but at those 2 sites you should get a good deal. Abnett and Lanning are my heroes!
    @Andy-The Avengers mini is pretty goos but “The End” is one Ive read several times and always enjoy it. I like that “Pharaoh” dude. lol Thanks for the kind words guys!

  5. Aron White

    You’re welcome, Billy! Thanks! I will! I may have to use a Borders coupon on that sucker!

  6. Eli

    Very nice Billy! I love Thanos, perhaps my favorite character. I’ve always seen him as a guy with near infinite raw power, synthesized power cosmic, technology that’s way ahead of Dr. Doom or Reed Richards, and that Batman-like planning that seems to almost always put him one or two steps ahead of everyone else, as if he’s looking at a bigger big picture.

    Wow, what a little rant. I love Thanos, and Starlin for giving him to us.

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