“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.

 

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