Thanos Refuses To Become So Pathetic a King
Lady Death seems to be happier than ever before as she watches Thanos prove his love for her by unleashing his full power to destroy upon himself (in an older/younger form). The fight scene alone is unforgettable, thanks to Donny Cates's epic narration and the art led by Geoff Shaw, showing the kind of devastation Thanos can conjure when trying to kill a villain of her own strength and ferocity.
But Lady Death soon loses her taste for the fight as the younger Thanos begins to overpower King Thanos... and soon, the reader finds out why. As Thanos wraps his hands around his older self's neck, the sight and sound of Thanos begging for death - even one who has lived in isolation for millions of years - is vile to his ears. Presumably, Lady Death realized the same truth: King Thanos wants his lover's touch so badly, he wants to die.
The moment is one comic fans will likely debate for years, decades to come, as Thanos seems to decide that even if dying is what's needed to win Lady Death, wanting to be beaten is a fate too low for him to accept. So as Old King Thanos screams at his younger self, believing this to be his destiny, he witnesses a promise.
Clutching the Time Stone in his fist, Thanos vows to return to his own time newly fortified by this glimpse of the whimpering failure he will become. He will not kill his older self, but use it as motivation to never fall to such depths. Thereby erasing him from existence.
Lady Death Speaks as (This) Thanos Finally Dies
The older King Thanos initially laughs, believing his younger self foolish to think that his current outcome could be anything but destiny (he IS still Thanos, after all). But as he notices that it's not a wedding Lady Death is dressed for, the truth begins to dawn on him. He has failed, in more ways than are immediately obvious.
His younger self, however, has clearly used this glimpse to productive ends. As darkness begins to claim everything around him King Thanos accepts that his fate was not inevitable, that he is about to be erased just as his younger self promised. Desperate to know how it was possible, what that Thanos could have done differently, Lady Death provides an answer: "He won."
The closing panels of "Thanos Wins" couldn't get more poetic, but the story deserves greater consideration than we can offer here. The questions raised are pure comic book euphoria: does this mean Marvel's Thanos will return a changed man, and that this is no longer the future of the comic universe? Or is this cycle doomed to repeat into infinity, as Thanos will eventually fall, but rise to even greater heights by witnessing it?
The unrequited love of Thanos for Death is also concluded in the only way it ever could be. To have her, he must eventually lose... and Thanos always wins.
Thanos #18 is available now from Marvel Comics.