Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a panel about Avengers: Infinity War. I was filming the panel for the host but I was also listening to it. During the panel I kept hearing a recurring theme in what the hosts were saying. Basically it amounted to Thanos was doing what he did throughout the movie because he believed in his “Hero’s Journey”. At some point during the question and answer period I calmly raised my hand and was just like “No, you’re all wrong. Thanos is a genocidal psychopath. There’s no explaining what he does because he’s bat-shit crazy.”
I just read Thanos Annual #1 which pretty much proves my theory. This is the last issue of the critically acclaimed Thanos series which started its 18 issue run being written by Jeff Lemire and penciled by Mike Deodato Jr. and then German Peralta, and ended spectacularly with the team of Donnie Cates and Geoff Shaw. This annual issue is more of a compendium of basically “Thanos’ Greatest Hits” narrated by the new Frank Castle Ghost Rider.
I gotta say I really dug this annual issue which was made up of six stories by various teams. After re-reading this book to write my review, I realized something as well. Six stories and six Infinity Stones? Coincidence? I think not. While I’m not exactly sure what order they’re supposed to be in, I’ll take a few stabs at each one as I review.
The first, “Titan’s Greatest Dad” by Donnie Cates, Geoff Shaw and Antonio Fabela shows Thanos in the biggest role he played by far in the Infinity War movie, a dad. It starts with Gamora in a continual fight with seemingly never ending enemies that Thanos brings home from his conquests. It ends with… well that would be spoiling it. It’s a good sick twist that shows just how fucked up the Mad Titan is.
Power – Of course from watching the movie people will immediately scream Soul at “Titan’s Greatest Dad” but this twisted tale has nothing to do with Gamora’s soul or Thanos’ lack thereof and more to do with the power Thanos is exerting over a child… And only because he has the power to do so.
“What to Get from the Man Who Takes Everything” is probably my favorite story from this book. It shows a regular guy named David who basically has his entire life intentionally plagued by Thanos every year on his birthday. I didn’t want this story to end. I literally wanted a year by year accounting of all the fucked up things Thanos did to this poor schmuck. Marvel should absolutely get Chris Hastings, Flaviano and Federico Blee to add another year of this story to every Thanos anything they publish.
Reality – I just went and looked back and got a freebie. “What to Get From the Man Who Takes Everything” mentions reality before it and I guess that makes sense as I doubt Thanos showing up at this dude’s birthday to mess with him every year would ever be a real part of Marvel continuity.
“Exhibition” by Kieron Gillen, Andre Araujo & Chris O’Halloran was a heady “Memphisto tries to explain love to Thanos” story that took Thanos’ love for Death and showed him missing the point. I think the first panel of this story explains it perfectly as the Rider narrates “For a Nihilist, Thanos can be plenty romantic. Everything he did with the Infinity Gauntlet? It’s his equivalent of turning up outside of Death’s house with a boombox playing her favorite songs.” I feel like if this came after the story, then “Exhibition” would have hit a little bit harder, but the entire story was summed up in that one statement before the story.
Soul – “Exhibition” paints Thanos with the “soul of an artist”. Get it? Paints? No? They mention Soul at the end so another freebie.
The Katie Cook & Heather Breckle “My Little Thanos” was cute and while it had a Skottie Young feel to the story, it was missing something. The blood maybe? I thought we should see more red guts and blood coming from the Adorales. I think the purples of their skin mixed with the purple innards muddled together and just didn’t pop off in the way it should have with a Thanos story but again, cute and sick. Good Job!
Space – “My Little Titan” could have worked as either Space or Reality for me. The cartoony nature immediately flips the switch to a possible Reality story, but you gotta remember that there’s a TON of space beings out there and somewhere in the Universe, there’s gotta be a group of masochists like the Adorales.
“That Time Thanos Helped an Old Lady Cross the Street” by Ryan North, Will Robson & Rachelle Rosenberg was probably my second favorite story from the book and showed the depths to which Thanos would sink to be an evil degenerate bastard.
Time – “That Time Thanos Helped an Old Lady Cross the Street” pretty much says in the beginning of the story that the Time stone helped him see something so this was also a freebie.
The final story, “The Comfort of the Good” by Al Ewing & Frazer Irving was beautifully painted and while I know I’ve seen Thanos do way more heinous shit over the years, this was just another example of how he would show up somewhere for seemingly no good reason and utterly destroy a civilization.
Mind – I feel like while “The Comfort of the Good” is just a Space story, he really gets into the head of these aliens so I’m going with Mind on this one. He takes away their version of immortality and then watches as they start losing it within minutes just from the sheer implication of what he’s done. It’s a mind –fuck if I ever saw one.
The very ending comes with a little built-in commercial for the new Cosmic Ghost Rider series which Marvel seems to be adding more and more to in a lot of their books (the product placement commercials for their new books, not the Ghost Rider though he seems to be a poster boy this year). The reveal issue for the Frank Castle Rider (Thanos #16) went to second printing, and he’s now about to get his own Cosmic Ghost Rider series. Personally it wasn’t a “Holy Shit” moment for me and I was more annoyed that I had to buy a second printing. I might check out Cosmic Ghost Rider though.
All in all this was a good ending to the Thanos series and gets mad props for the Mad Titan.
6/6 Infinity Stones Earned