*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.
Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.
Thanos 101: Intro to The Mad Titan (Part 3)
Alright, class, settle down. I know we are all excited, traumatized, and completely blown away by last week’s required viewing of The Avengers: Infinity War, but we have some supplemental reading material to go over on your syllabus. Trust me, I share your excitement. I had no idea what to expect from a movie that young me would have never dreamt of ever seeing. Heck, even not-quite-so-young me would never have imagined this movie could be as great as it was, but let’s get back on topic: supplemental Thanos reading materials. For part 1 and part 2, we covered the works—in chronological order—of Jim Starlin, the man most responsible for creating the Mad Titan we know and love today. This time around, however, we are expanding on the character of Thanos through the eyes of other talented creators who offer their interpretation of the most complex and interesting, not to mention my favorite, “villain” in the Marvel Universe.
It is no secret that comic book events, for the most part, leave me vastly underwhelmed and insulted by what oftentimes is more of a short-term money-grab plagued with numerous delays, inconsistent art, and a story created to lead into the next event. (But how do I really feel?). It’s also not a secret that I LOVE The Infinity Gauntlet, which (mostly) holds up today as it did when I first read the book decades ago. But there are other events that buck the norm and deliver a compelling and consistent series that both pleases readers and moves copies: Annihilation is one of those events.
Now, at the time, to get the full effect of Annihilation, you had to carefully follow the many books involved, but the good news was that each was a dang good read. Here are the individual books you needed to read for this thrilling event:
- Thanos #7–12 (Written by Keith Giffen, illustrated by Ron Lim, published in 2004 by Marvel Comics) After Jim Starlin left the Thanos series, Giffen and Lim took over to lay some of the groundwork for what would be Annihilation. Although not essential to the whole experience, you see the reintroduction of Star-Lord and of course more Thanos goodness.
- Drax the Destroyer #1–4 (Written by Keith Giffen, illustrated by Mitch Breitweiser, published in 2005 by Marvel Comics) Remember the days when Drax had become somewhat of a dumb, hulking powerhouse of a brute? Well, no longer. Here Drax becomes the lithe (comparatively), knife-wielding murder-machine who eventually appears in The Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series and years later The Guardians of the Galaxy movies we all know and love.
- Annihilation: Prologue #1 (Written by Keith Giffen, illustrated by Scott Kollins and Ariel Olivetti, published in 2006 by Marvel Comics) Okay, here we go. The main players are introduced as Annihilus brings his Annihilation Wave out of the Negative Zone. Game on!
- Annihilation: Nova #1–4 (Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, illustrated by Kev Walker, published in 2006 by Marvel Comics) The last surviving member of the Nova Corps, Richard Rider, becomes Nova Prime and vows to stop the Annihilation Wave even if he must do so alone.
- Annihilation: Silver Surfer #1–4 (Written by Keith Giffen, illustrated by Renato Arlem, published in 2006 by Marvel Comics) The Silver Surfer joins with a handful of other ex-heralds of Galactus to take on the Annihilation Wave and also Thanos, who has mysteriously sided with Annihilus. Things don’t look good.
- Annihilation: Super-Skrull #1–4 (Written by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, illustrated by Greg Titus, published in 2006 by Marvel Comics) One of The Fantastic Four’s most ruthless foes vows to crush the Annihilation Wave.
- Annihilation: Ronan #1–4 (Written by Simon Furman, illustrated by Jorge Lucas, published in 2006 by Marvel Comics) I never thought the Kree Accuser Ronan would have his own limited series, or that he would be a crucial character in the Annihilation event, but here he is. Including Ronan is a move I would have never expected, but it is one that works.
- Annihilation: Nova Corps Files #1 (Written and illustrated by a whole mess of people, published in 2006 by Marvel Comics) A dossier of the key players and events leading up to Annihilation. A sourcebook, if you will.
- Annihilation #1–6 (Written by Keith Giffen, illustrated by Andrea Divito, published in 2006 by Marvel Comics) After a quick buildup from the Drax the Destroyer mini, the Annihilation: Prologue, and the four individual miniseries, Annihilation kicks into high gear and you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! The heroes come together in a final rally to save the universe from Annihilus’s Annihilation Wave. The situation is dire and all hope seems lost. It’s hordes of cosmic bugs from another dimension against the vastly outnumbered United Front in this space opera, war story.
- Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1–2 (Written by Christos Gage, Stuart Moore, and Keith Giffen; illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Mike McKone, and Andrea Divito, published in 2007 by Marvel Comics) The Annihilation Wave is _______ (not going to spoil) but some of Galactus’s former heralds—those who have survived—are angry and want revenge.
I know that this is a lot of material, but every page of this grand offering is worth your time and effort to read. Thankfully, it’s not that much effort to collect this event as you can go big with the Annihilation Omnibus (if you can find one that doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars), or go not-quite-as-big-but-still-major with the Annihilation: The Complete Collection Volume 1 and Volume 2. From here, you get a Nova ongoing, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the next event Annihilation: Conquest.
Comprised of The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1, The Thanos Imperative #1–6, and The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1, this mini-event leaps from the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy to bring Thanos back into the universe. Unfortunately for all, the Mad Titan is very much mad. The trauma Thanos has been through has left him a near-mindless, hulking monster set on killing everything in his path. This is not good, but might also be a blessing in disguise as a parallel dimension known as the Cancerverse attempts to bleed into our own along with its hideous, unkillable, perversions of our own heroes. Thanos might very well be the right weapon to use against the invaders, that is if he can be controlled. In other words, we’re all doomed. The Thanos Imperative is a thrilling, creepy ride and successfully brings Thanos back into the heart of the Marvel Universe. My only disappoint with this otherwise awesome mini-event is the casual treatment of Adam Magus, but whatchagonnado? Definitely, a book to seek out.
Most of what we know of Thanos involves the devastation wrought throughout his adult life. But what of his younger years? What was he like as a child? What led to his first kill and who was it? All that and more are revealed in the miniseries that leads us to…
Infinity(Written by Jonathan Hickman with Nick Spencer, illustrated by many, published in 2012 by Marvel Comics)
After watching The Avengers: Infinity War and loving every second of it, Infinity needs to be next on my reread list as I’m a little shaky as to everything that went down in this rich, complex series. The movie draws much inspiration from both the The Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity with both events being must-reads for those wanting to know more about the Infinity Gems (or Infinity Stones as they are known in the film) and to introduce Thanos’s Black Order, an elite task force consisting of Corvus Glaive, Black Dwarf, Ebony Maw, Proxima Midnight, and Supergiant. You also get the new alien threat of the Builders who seek to wipe out the universe as Thanos and his thralls begin to ravage an Earth missing most of its mightiest heroes. Infinity is a book that requires you to have all of your faculties about you as you read, so be prepared by getting a good night’s sleep, do some sort of exercise, shower, eat a healthy breakfast, and settle in for this grand adventure. This collection is comprised of New Avengers #7–12, Avengers #14–23, Infinity #1–6, and Infinity: Against the Tide Infinite Comic #1–2. If you want to see more of Thanos’s army and see them fight an expanded roster of The Avengers, then this is not a book you want to miss!
There you have it class! At least an entire year’s worth of required reading just to cover the Mad Titan Thanos. But wait, there’s more! There are still many other series out there that feature Thanos, including the most recent interpretations by Jeff Lemire and Donny Cates. That, however, is for another day.