“Am I Not Death?”: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About THANOS But Were Afraid to Ask

A Dreamer Of Tranquility. Non-Purpose. Death.

“Tell me his name again” – Tony Stark.

Ten years. Eighteen movies. And it’s all been leading up to Avengers: Infinity War, set to bedazzle us all in just over a month(!) 

With the latest trailer for this epic slugfest released on Friday, and seeing how all of you are eager to go to War, you sure as fudge need to know what you’re going up against…

Created by writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin, Thanos hails from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. His parents were Eternals – his father was Mentor. His mother: Sui-san – so shocked to discover that he carried the Deviants gene, making him resemble the Eternals‘ cousin race – tried to kill himWhile Thanos embodied Death, his brother Eros – aka Starfox who served as an Avenger during the mid-80s – represented Life.

His super-strength, speed and durability are greatly enhanced by the Deviants gene. Not until adolescence, did he develop his fascination with nililism and death, worshipping and eventually falling in love with the physical embodiment of death: Mistress Death. 

Able to absorb and project vast quantities of cosmic energy, Thanos is capable of telekinesis, telepathy and matter manipulation. Trained in the arts of war on Titan, Odin Allfather had to concede that he was a worthy opponent, and he even BLASTED GALACTUS OFF HIS FEET(!)

A scientific supergenius, he uses three space vessels named Sanctuary as alternate bases of operations. (Yes, you already saw Sanctuary II loom LARGE during the Thor: Ragnarok post-creds sequence!)

 

“Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!” – Roy Thomas. 

Watching the Armoured Avenger getting well and truly KA-POWed to the ground during the first Infinity War trailer reminded me that the Mad Titan actually made his debut in Iron Man #55 “Beware, The Blood Brothers!” (February 1973).

“I went to college [before] getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos” Jim Starlin explained. “I felt that [Iron Man] may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it.”

And the rest is (quite a substantial) history.

It is intriguing to learn that when he iniatially envisagd this formidable icon, Starlin – who also brought the Mad Titan’s nemesis: Adam Warlock to life – envisaged him as a more scrawny fella; only through the insistence of editor: Roy Thomas does he sport such massive bulk.

Thanos story continued in Captain Marvel #s 25-33 (March 1973 – Jan. 1974) (some sources list this arc as The Thanos War) – again, these ishs are stupendously expensive collectors’ items, or they would have materialised in the Bradscribe Bronze Age Comics Collection loooong before now…

He made further appearances in Marvel Feature #12 (Nov 1973), Daredevil #107 (Jan 1974) What?! Picking on the blind now, huh, fella?! Jeez, what a bounder… and Avengers #125 (July 1974). 

He returned in an excellent extended storyline that spanned Strange Tales #178-181 (Feb.–Aug. 1975) and Warlock #9-11 (Oct. 1975 – Feb. 1976), the latter of which was reviewed here: and can be heartily recommended!

Yours truly is well aware of how difficult it is to acquire these individual back ishs. For the best introduction to Thanos, before 27 April, seek out the compilation volume: Essential Captain Marvel. 

You won’t be disappointed! 

Thanos is the greatest menace this galaxy has ever known! He’s here to gain the force that can subjugate the stars – the Cosmic Cube!” – Captain Marvel. 

“Only you, Titan. Congratulations. You are clearly a person one does not easily forget” – Adam Warlock.

“The entire time I knew him, he only ever had one goal – to wipe out half the universe. If he gets all the Infinity Stones, he can do it with the snap of his fingers… just like that” – Gamora.

Strange Tales #180 (June 1975) marked the debut of Thanos adopted daughter: Gamora Zen Whoberi Ben Titan.

After her species: the Zen Whoberis were wiped out by the Badoon – Thanos found the infant Gamora and raised her solely for the purpose of destroying The Magus: the evil, future self of Adam Warlock. Judging from that touching moment in the latest Trailer, it looks like we will get to see how that unlikely father-daughter relationship transpired.

Apart from her – and Nebula, of course – Thanos has fathered enough children to form his own baseball team. He even had a child with his main infatuation: Mistress Death. 

And what did they call their sprog?

Rot, that’s what.

Aww, cute…?!

The last time the Mad Titan (dis)graced the Bronze Age he picked a fight with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in The Avengers Annual 1977 – another sterling job by Jim Starlin. 

And just like that, he was gone…

“And I thought we wuz friends!” – Pip The Troll.

…Until 1990, when The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #34 (Feb. 1990) witnessed the revival of Thanos.

Talk about unstoppable.

He frequently guest-starred right up until ish #59 (Nov. 1991), while simultaneously stealing the show in The Thanos Quest #1 & 2 (Sept-Oct. 1990) and the monumental The Infinity Gauntlet #1-6 (July-Dec. 1991).

After an appearance in Spider-Man #17 (Dec. 1991), any mini-series with “Infinity” in the title, whether it be Warlock And The Infinity Watch, Infinity War or Infinity Crusade, you could bet the Mad Titan would show up to deliver his own unique brand of carnage… 

If that wasn’t enough, he not only returned to The Silver Surfer (vol. 3) #86-88 (Nov. 1993-Jan. 1994), but managed to gate-crash Thor #468-71 (Nov. 1993-Feb. 1994); Namor The Sub-Mariner #44 (Nov. 1993); Secret Defenders #11-14 (Jan-Apr. 1994) and even frickin’ Ka-Zar fer cake’s sake! 

He featured in Thor (vol. 2) #21-25 (March-July 2000) and Captain Marvel (vol. 4) # 17-19 (June-Aug. 2001) before being reintroduced in Guardians Of the Galaxy (vol. 2) #24-25 (April-May 2010).

Notice in the forthcoming movie how Thanos isn’t going into this alone – he is aided by four shifty enhanced individuals – Corvus Glaive, Proxima Midnight, Ebony Maw and Black Dwarf – alternatively known as the Black Order, or the Children of Thanos. You saw them briefly in this latest Trailer, holding Loki captive. They have been exacting their duplicitous allegiance to the Mad Titan in the comics only since 2013, making one-panel cameos in New Avengers (vol. 3) #8 before being properly introduced in Infinity #1.

Their onscreen visages were unveigled at the Disney D23 Expo last year  – here’s hoping they can avoid the “Phasma-curse”: receive a tremendous pre-release buzz only to end up with having barely anything to do/say onscreen.  

The one female member of this band: Proxima Midnight is seen here (from last November‘s Infinity War trailer) flinging her spear – forged especially for her by Thanos at the valiant Captain Crumbcatcher: 

“Death follows him like a shadow” – Mantis.

James Gunn originally envisaged Thanos enjoying a more substantial role in the first Guardians Of the Galaxy movie, but Joss Whedon felt that: “the character needed to be threaded more gently” (whatever that means).

Personally, not hearing a single dickie bird said about Adam Warlock in relation to this Enhanced Individual Convention is a tad discomfortingAdam possesses the Soul Gem – embedded in his forehead – the one Infinity Stone yet to be revealed in the MCU; as Gamora said – in The Avengers Annual 1977: if there is one man in the galaxy who Thanos fears, it’s Adam. 

Besides, The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series saw them scrap mano a mado – a confrontation never far away from fans’ MCU wishlists.  

It would impress this ol’ fanboy no end to see, at the climax of this imminent record-breaker to watch Adam Warlock – defying all the pre-release gossip that he is not due to appear until Guardians Vol. 3 – make an electrifying entrance (before flashing that inevitably-annoying “To Be Continued” sign across the screen!)

No worries: this EPIC is brought to us by the ever-capable Joe and Anthony Russo who possessed that uncanny ability of turning me into a big fan of Captain America who, arguably, has the most impressive MCU trilogy. There is NO doubt that this dynamic duo can craft the marvel-ous spectacle we all crave, although it will be particularly interesting to see how they juggle a whole decade’s worth of awesome characters into 2 hours 36 minutes (TOO SHORT!!)

Heck, if they can handle the intergalactic infamy of Thanos then they are capable of anything.  

“Everyone, without knowing it, loses this day – save death! 

“For now, nothing can halt my ultimate plan for total stellar genocide! Soon, all who must suffer through that which is called life shall be granted the peace that only passing the Great Divide can bring!

“Yes, I shall grant them this tranquillity, for am I not ThanosAm I not the Dark Side? 

“Am I not Death?” – Thanos.

 

Rantin’ And Killraven: What’s HOT On The Bronze Age Comics IN Pile

Madre De Dios! More Mighty Marvel Mayhem!

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“A quest… You humans love quests and epics… romantic notions… absurdities which clutter your lives and distort your base realities!” – The High Overlord.  

NIX OLYMPIA VOLCANO, MARS – DECEMBER 2019

“He had touched the blade of grass… and it turned to red Martian dust beneath his hands. The sand shifts through his fingers now, and Killraven knows for a certainty that the desert he kneels upon is located on the planet Mars. 

“He is alone with that truth – and the truth is staggering!”

But what is truly staggering is that how a comic entitled: War Of The Worlds featuring Wellsian Martians (on giant tortoiseback, by gad!), alien vistas and high adventure on the Fourth Rock From The Sun with a Terran hero bestriding the russet landscape sportin’ thigh-high boots could turn (on?!) out to be so…

disappointing. 

Killraven: ha! Now there’s a name ta die for!

Isn’t it…?

With the right creative team, this should have developed into a hit – at least a cult classic, but no… 

As a fan of all things Martian, hopes that #36 (May 1976) would be a joy to behold were running high, until the reaction was so low. No prizes for guessing that this title was cancelled after only 30+ ishs…

Anyway! Welcome back to the weird wonderful world of Bradscribe – apologies for the delay since the last Post, but things have been hectic around here.

Once more unto the back issue boxes, dear friends!

Undoubtedly the highlight of Summer ’16 involved delving into the treasures of Bronze Age comics – that exceedingly special time from c. 1970 (curiously estimated with the debut ish of Conan The Barbarian of all things) up until the mid-’80s (and the death of Jean Grey?) when some exceptional titles were produced. At the most, taking advantage of the opportunity to catch up with some truly remarkable writers and artists; pleasantly acquire previously unknown titles; and dip nostalgically into editions that used to belong in my bedroom but for whatever outlandish reason got lost in the mists of time has transmogrified into an enjoyable and worthwhile venture. 

For me, the Bronze Age happened to be the best period for comic books. Killraven – for all its faults – demonstrates how experimental and innovative Marvel Comics could be during the 1970s.

Here then are some of the special ishs that have accumulated in my specially-reserved box this past few months:

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“The brute still lives! Such ineffable strength and longevity are almost beyond my experience and bear further study at The Project!” – The Hate-Monger.  

“The first rays of the crescent moon found the blood-red pendant grafted to John Jameson’s throat and he becomes a beast: Man-Wolf!”

Yes, yes, we covered that lupine moonbeast here: but that was too long ago, and quite frankly, he deserves more blogspace – for he is an extraordinary character simply never available on the Southern English newsstands of my youth. And it is a pleasure to finally catch up with his stunning series.

From ish #30, Man-Wolf became the sole principal star of Creatures On The Loose, until being cancelled (with ish #37 back in 1975). Ish #35: Wolfquest (May 1975) is – rip-roaring sci-fi action/adventure at its 70s best.

“David Kraft wrote it; George Perez drew it; you get to read it!” says the text on the groovy front page. There is also an ace cameo from Colonel Nick Fury (one of my all-time fave comic book characters) – “Sonuvagun if it ain’t!” – and Dum Dum Dugan! 

As penultimate pages go, this – the death of the Hate-Monger is as awesome and intense as Bronze Age comic art gets – proudly loaded up here (above).

Can’t help thinking what Perez would have done with Killraven…

And there was no way that Col. Fury’s dramatic entrance could not be included here:

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Nick Fury: “Dum Dum, ya big walrus, quit flounderin’ and folla me!”

Dum Dum Dugan: “Fergit it, Nick – I ain’t goin’ nowhere without my blamed Derby!” 

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Thanos: “Would you believe I’m doing all this out of the goodness of my heart?” 

Adam Warlock: “No, for I perceive that you have no heart!”

Like the BA gem listed above, (The Power Of) Warlock was also cancelled in its prime, but Adam, the golden-hued character himself made such an indelible impression on my infant mind.

More tragically, the original series lasted no more than just 15 ishs. Ironically, Warlock – “By Orion!” – has attained hallowed cult status and is extremely difficult to come by; when my sensors did detect odd editions, the going rate seemed ridiculously high. So finding that immortal classic: Warlock #10: How Strange My Destiny (December 1975) (for a thankfully ridiculously low price!) proved to be an exceptional find.

The first part of the acclaimed Magus Saga in which Adam makes an uneasy alliance with notorious bad seed: Thanos in his showdown with the Magus. It also features Gamora (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame!) and Pip The Troll (who – judging from the letters pages – became a sensation among Marvelites far and wide!)

Thanos – and (let’s be honest) even Pip The Troll – would have swept the floor with Killraven…

As Adam realizes with horror: “My mind is a cesspool of corruption that will someday spawn the Magus” – the Magus is Adam Warlock’s future self!

Blimey Charley, what a humdinger! 

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“25,000 armed Black Knights just to kill four unarmed intruders?! The Magus must be cracking up! Wish I had 50,000 instead of a mere 25,000…” – General Egeus. 

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Captain Marvel: “There’s Titan, Drax – it won’t be long now. But why so silent? What are you thinking about?”

Drax The Destroyer: “About how difficult it may be, once our alliance is ended… to kill you!”

Hankering for more galactic thrills, it seemed inevitable that Marvel’s spaceborn “most cosmic superhero of all” – the original Kree warrior: Mar-Vell – would get snapped up.

Eager to find out more, an excellent additional feature of Warlock #10 – an insert in which Captain Marvel explains the background (and threat!) of his arch-enemy: Thanos. Usefully, it noted #s 25-33 as the classic ishs in which the two legendary characters went head-to-head.

Initially, Marvel Spotlight #2 (featuring Captain Marvel) came into my hands fairly early on during this hunting season. However, Pat Broderick’s art style failed to alight the Bradmonitor. Not to be outdone, a chance was taken with Captain Marvel #59 (November 1978). Despite retaining Broderick’s pencils, The Trouble With Titan actually offered a more satisfying look, mainly because of the special guest star appearance by Drax The Destroyer. 

“By the Lost Horns of Hala!”

The outlandish contents involve Mar-Vell and Drax having to rescue Eros and Mentor from being “menaced by what manner of monsters, only the the Great Pama knows!” And trespassing in the domain of Lord Gaea – and having to fight their way through his hordes of Earth-Demons to escape! Written by Doug Moench – always a reliable choice (so why couldn’t he have worked on Killraven…?)

Have already picked up further ishs, but so far, #s 25-33 are proving to be elusive… 

In conclusion, me lovelies, it should be pointed out that – in a sale, just to be on the safe side! – another ish of  Killraven WAS acquired. And lo, Brad The Merciful steps in to grant the underachievers a second chance, but…

Ha! Guess what?

Despite having a fascinating splash page, #35 (March 1976) is bogged down with an even more confusing plot; moreover, he grumbles, the addition of an insipid Martian character and a deranged, scantily-clad woman spouting interminable gibberish does NOT guarantee rewarding reading! 

So, it’s official then: Killraven is PANTS….

Not gonna let this absurdity distort my base realities!

But heck! Let’s not end on a bum-note.

As Confucius used to say: “If you’ve got time for one more cake, you’ve bally well got time for one more comic!”

Hey! Looks like yours truly has got just the right thing: 

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“Alas, Iron Fist, you have my sympathy. No man should be spurned by a beautiful woman and fall in battle on the same day!” – El Aguila.

Last and – well, really! Is anyone nuts enough to say: “least” to Luke Cage’s face?! – we have Marvel’s very own dynamic duo: Power Man and Iron Fist. 

This is such a nifty break from my usual cosmic cravings, and besides, back in the day, one ish did pass through me grubby infant mitts, but Brad‘ll be damned if he can recall the exact one! Never fear, random back ishs have been selected, and are turning out to be an unexpected fab treat!

#65: “An Eagle In The Aerie” (Oct 1980) is great fun. En route to the Aerie (HQ of Heroes For Hire), Luke and Danny are followed by old adversary: El Aguila and – “Santa Maria!” – half the staff of all-female guards have revolted and all three costumed heroes have to defend the Aerie from all-out assault.

El Aguila leaps and bounds suavely through battle, firing bursts of his biologically-generated electricity through his sword while exclaiming: “Believe me, senoritas, doing this hurts my heart as much as it does your lovely bodies.”

Before Luke and Danny can get a word in, the Eagle escapes in a helicopter, but not before smooching the secretary.

Ah, they don’t make masked men of mystery like that any more…

If only Killraven oozed just half the charm of El Aguila…

Been searching for ish #58 (El Aguila’s initial appearance) but – not surprisingly – it is rare and expensive.

Finally, could not resist including this intriguing lil cameo from another Marvel stalwart:

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Iron Fist: “You’re up early, Luke. How did you sleep?” 

Power Man: “Kept dreamin’ ’bout floods an’ tidal waves.”

Iron Fist: “Sorry about the waterbed.”

Originally, this Post began back in September(!), revised in November, but it has taken the last few gruelling days just to finally launch this draft – well, anything really! – into the blogosphere.

Relieved, rather than pleased, to have accomplished some writing again.

Meanwhile, quite a considerable comics collection has amassed here over the past few months – therefore CANNOT WAIT to discuss, in a flurry of forthcoming Posts, the juiciest finds with you!

So, while the world falls apart, this:

cbk

…is where you’ll find me: the “Leisure Hive” @ Brad Manor. 

Happy hunting, True Believers!

You would NOT BELIEVE what you can get for 60 Portions these days…