Marvel Comics has announced a new graphic novel starring Thanos, the main villain of the upcoming movie Avengers: Infinity War. Titled Thanos: The Infinity Conflict, the book is intended to be the second volume of a three part series, following Thanos: The Infinity Siblings (which is due to be released on April 4). But some behind-the-scenes drama concerning the man behind the novel, Thanos co-creator Jim Starlin has placed this long-awaited reveal in a strange light.
After first appearing in Iron Man #55, Thanos quickly grew to become one of Marvel Comics' most powerful cosmic villains. Born on one of the moons of Saturn, a young Thanos became obsessed with nihilism and death. After studying the sciences and enhancing his already impressive physique, Thanos attempted to find the meaning of life, first by seeking fulfillment as a father then by seeking adventure as a space pirate (obviously). He found little satisfaction in either, until he was visited by a manifestation of Death itself, whom Thanos attempted to court with increasingly bold acts of destruction aimed at delivering his chosen love more souls to control.
All culminating in his collection of the Infinity Stones, which he used to extinguish half of all life in Marvel's universe.
Marvel Comics has released a brief preview of Thanos: The Infinity Conflict, which can be viewed below. The preview consists of the book's cover and the first two fully-colored pages, with artwork by Alan Davis. The pages seem to depict a conversation between Thanos and frequent enemy/ally Adam Warlock as the two consider one of the Infinity Gems. With the series claiming it will put Thanos into a fight "against his own future," these two former wielders of the Infinity Gauntlet may actually be working together.
Marvel Comics also released the following synopsis of Thanos: The Infinity Conflict:
Part of the second trilogy of Starlin and Davis’ Thanos saga, INFINITY CONFLICT takes the Mad Titan on an epic, wild adventure – and brings Adam Warlock along for the ride! Armed with the Reality Gem, Thanos is now poised to become the lord of all reality, until he learns that his troublesome brother and time travel aren’t the only things that stand in the way of claiming his powerful reign.
Who stands against Thanos in this dramatic rebellion? The answer may surprise you…
Marvel's announcement of Thanos: The Infinity Conflict's publication comes as something of a surprise given the falling-out between the company and Thanos co-creator Jim Starlin. In 2012, Starlin complained about not being compensated for the use of his cosmic character in the first Avengers movie. While he and Marvel eventually reached a settlement, Starlin later claimed to have been paid more by DC Comics for the small, un-costumed character KGBeast in Batman v Superman than he had ever received for the use of Thanos, Gamora, Drax and all the other characters and concepts he had a hand in creating in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The final straw came in late 2017, when Starlin claimed that an upcoming event featuring Thanos - now underway as the Infinity Countdown comic event - seemed to be far too close to his own story for his liking. Especially since his work - Infinity Conflict - would now be released after the event. Starlin issued public statements announcing he had turned in the completed scripts for the Thanos trilogy, but that his time with Marvel Comics was now over.
The company is well within their rights to publish the completed work, no matter how uncomfortable the paychecks headed to Starlin as a result may get. Additionally, any financial benefit Starlin may draw from having his final three Thanos stories published will be a drop in the bucket compared to what Marvel is sure to make off of another comic that can be tied into Infinity War. That's even if it results in adding one more creator to the long list of those - like Jack Kirby, J. Michael Straczynski and The Image Seven - who have parted ways with Marvel due to editorial mistreatment.
However the Marvel/Starlin relationship may end, fans can take solace in the fact that Infinity Conflict was the first part of a new story his co-creator wished to tell. If you're more intrigued by this new trilogy than Marvel's Countdown comic event, the conflict may only be background noise.
Thanos: The Infinity Conflict is expected to arrive in November 2018.
- Avengers: Infinity War / The Avengers 3 (2018) release date: Apr 27, 2018
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019