[WARNING: Contains SPOILERS for Thanos #1.]
Aside from those hiding in a Marvel Cinematic Universe-impermeable bomb shelter, most people are probably aware that Thanos is about to play a MAJOR role in the Infinity Gauntlet-based, two-movie epic Avenger: Infinity War and its untitled cinematic mate. Before his entry into the MCU, via a sly end tag in The Avengers, he left his massive footprint on the comic book side of things, getting up to all sorts of trouble, causing countless deaths, and creating disarray as the Avatar of Death in the Marvel Universe.
In recent years, the 'purple chair guy' pushed the end game of the MU in his quest for power, laying waste to countless systems in his thirst for domination. He also sought the vast power of the assembled Infinity Gauntlet, gathering its gems (or Stones in the MCU) to possess the abilities of a god and impress his unrequited love, the physical embodiment of Death (who apparently Deadpool has a thing for too). Launching his latest ongoing series, Thanos #1 takes fans to new places, though, and teases some major challenges to the continued rule of the Marvel's maddest Titan.
Thanos Kicks Off Civil War II with a BANG
Before his solo run began, Thanos had a brief if devastating cameo in the latest major Marvel event, Civil War II. The vast interwoven story arc sees Inhuman sage Ulysses predict the cosmic menace's arrival on Earth, in search of Project Pegasus-held Cosmic Cube. Although he failed to attain the extremely powerful object and was imprisoned by the Ultimates, he inflicted lethal damage on his combatants and caused tensions to rise to near the breaking point between the ranks of Earth's superhero set.
Later, Thanos manages to escape captivity by tricking Ani-Man Conner Sims into busting them out before being recaptured and eventually escaping again (apparently). The cosmic baddie now heads back to his region of space, to reclaim his Black Order forces now under the control of his former lieutenant Corvus Glaive. After defeating Glaive (Thanos gives him the option of killing himself or dying agonizingly by the purple overlord’s own hands. What a nice guy.), he settles into his rule once more. But the universe is already shifting like quicksand beneath his weight, as machinations are underway to unseat the overlord permanently.
Death of Thanos?
Unbeknownst to Thanos, a conspiracy is growing. His son, Thane, is recruiting allies to remove him from the his big space throne. Seeing as their last father-son outing ended with junior trapping pops between life and death in amber, it’s no surprise their family unit isn’t particularly close. Hiring a Lobo-esque bounty hunter, Tryco Slatterus – the self-proclaimed “Champion of the Universe” – to track down his uncle, Starfox (a.k.a. Eros), Thane constructs an unlikely alliance of blood and muscle to challenge his father's cosmic dominance.
He's joined on the ruined Eternal moon of Titan by the (probably) true architect of the plot to end Thanos – his constant crush, Death. As powerful as the forces organizing may be, Thane is understandably nervous. After all, they’ll only be taking on what amounts to a god. Death has a secret, though – a real doozy, at that – which could turn the tide in their favor: Thanos is dying. Enfeebled or not, Thane and crew can rest assured that the Mad Titan won’t go gently into that good night.
What Is Thanos’ True Destiny?
In the Marvel Universe, Thanos has already died on several occasions, so killing him off isn’t a guaranteed endgame for the Overmaster. Death’s input, though, could make a difference, since ‘she’ has killed and revived him on an occasion or two. Whether or not the plot succeeds, facing his own mortality could clarify some of Thanos' recent activities, including his search for the Cosmic Cube on Earth (of course, he's always searching for one of these), as well as the suggestive Phoenix-shaped sigils in his eyes from the series’ promo. His weakened condition could also explain how Captain Marvel was able to capture him, as well as why his adopted daughter, Gamora, was angered by his detainment.
At the same time, Thanos is slated to appear in the biggest MCU event film thus far. Killing off their main villain in the comic books would be a peculiar lead-in to the Infinity War saga. Seeking a cure for what ails him could, however, provide a great motive for an intergalactic warlord's hunt for that flashy gauntlet – one slightly better (for some folks, anyway) than a love-sick demigod trying to impress an emotionally-unavailable cosmic force in feminine form.
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As with previous story arcs exploring the cosmic overlord, Thanos #1 is ably scripted by Jeff Lemire with cosmically-appropriate art from Mike Deodato Jr. It will give fans a little peek inside the motives and realities of the interstellar antagonist, taking fans even deeper into his vulnerabilities (at least, physical ones) than ever before. While the idea of his own family and ex (sort of) plotting against him isn’t a shocking twist, the revelation of the nigh-immortal Titan at Death's door is very intriguing.
It will be curious to see whether if Thanos’ series and Gamora’s new solo run link up at some point. It will also be interesting to see if this story leads to yet another death in the Titan family tree, or whether it offers any hints as to where Avengers: Infinity War is heading – after all, the Mad Titan’s latest sequential adventures kick off awfully close to the Phase 3 game-changer. We'll keep you posted as to any further Thanos-based developments, in the MCU or MU.
Thanos #1 is currently available online and in print.