WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Thanos #14
It's official, comic fans: Thanos is destined to conquer the entire Marvel Comics Universe. The good news is that he won't actually do it for quite some time, if Thanos #14 is anything to go by. The bad news, as Avengers fans can guess, is that he'll smash his way through every superhero, team, and cosmic being before he claims the throne of the cosmos. That means killing the X-Men, Avengers, Inhumans, Galactus - you name it - right up to the Celestials who existed before the universe knew what regular life was.
That's the glimpse of the future offered in the latest issue of the Mad Titan's own comic series, allowing readers to gaze millions of years ahead. And considering what he's actually endured in his comic series so far (Thanos was dying but cured himself, and was betrayed by Death and his son, Thane) maybe he's earned a happy ending. Or at least the comic fans have, since the actual way he conquered the universe is a roadmap for the ages.
A roadmap to the last world in the cosmos, the castle forged from the bones of the gods, and the lonely throne where Thanos sits in silence, victorious over all life.
The creative team of Donny Cates and artist Geoff Shaw start millions of years in the future to tell a story involving the Thanos that exists in the current universe. But before we get to that, the actual montage of Thanos's conquest and murder is worth outlining. Narrated by a disembodied voice, the account of Thanos encompasses most of his iconic storylines: the Infinity Gauntlet, Annihilation, and run-ins with Galactus and other space-based supervillains.
But when the tale shifts from the past to the future, the horrors of Thanos's victory become clear. Captain America defeated, shield shattered. Aging X-Men falling in battle. Old King Thor obliterated. The aging Hulk of Old Man Logan punched to death. Until Thanos stand before the Celestials - the towering, ancient beings of the MCU - and greets them with the final scream of the Inhuman Black Bolt.
For those who may not know, the Inhuman Black Bolt's voice can shake mountains, capable of vaporizing his enemies in seconds. Which explains why Thanos leaves him to kill last. And as the title of this comic arc proclaims, "Thanos Wins" when Black Bolt's death cry blasts the Celestials into nothingness... along with the planet. It is the moment that Thanos has dreamed of since he first felt the thrill of power and destruction, and longed to conquer everything in creation. So with no enemies left to best, he builds himself a new throne as "The Lord of Ash. King of Nothing."
According to the comic, he literally builds his single tower out of the Celestial bones, containing little other than his throne... and the Ghost Rider, the Spirit of Vengeance at his side.
It can be assumed that with nothing else left in the universe, and Ghost Rider unable to actually be killed, the two are all that's left. Which just goes to show you: sometimes getting all the power you dream of can have its drawbacks. The story of Thanos hasn't technically ended, since Thanos #14 sees this Old King Thanos send Ghost Rider back to retrieve his younger self from the current MCU timeline. The Spirit does as he's asked (thanks to Thanos's Time Stone), delivering the younger Thanos to the feet of his future self.
After a brief battle (obviously) the older tyrant manages to prove his identity by revealing the true name of Thanos known to nobody in the universe but the Mad Titan himself. His mission isn't to undo his victory, but seemingly to make it truly complete. For all his immortality - or perhaps because of it - the one being he never found is Lady Death, Thanos's longtime lover.
Does Thanos seek a lover to spend the rest of eternity with? Or does he only wish to make his victory complete, and kill Lady Death, too, with his bare hand? We'll see when Issue #15 arrives.
Thanos #14 is available now.