RazorFine Presents – Thanos

by Alan Rapp on January 30, 2008

in Comics

Welcome to yet another issue of RazorFine Presents Comic Spotlight as we take a look at comic heroes, villains, and everything in between.  This week, for the first time, we shine the comic spotlight on a villain.  Created in the early 1970’s by Jim Starlin, Thanos of Titan, an Eternal with almost unlimited intellect and power, would threaten the universe for decades on a mission to serve and win the heart of his mistress, Death.


Name: Thanos

1st Appearance: Iron Man issue #55 (1973)

Final Appearance: Dies (again) in Annihilation issue #4


“From knowledge springs power, just as weakness stems from Ignorance.”

Thanos, in many ways, is one of the most tragic characters in the history of the Marvel Universe.  Born on Titan to a race of Eternals, Thanos would grow into a bitter and power-hungry young man.  Early on Thanos became infatuated with Death and a desire to earn her pleasure and respect; Thanos pledged his life to her cause.

From the nuclear bombing of his own homeworld, to the murder and dissection of his mother, to his attempt to destroy all life in the cosmos, Thanos is consumed by a desire to prove himself in the eyes of Death.  First using the Cosmic Cube, and later the Infinity Gems, Thanos would be thwarted time and again by the like of Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock, who would turn the Mad Titan to stone and free the universe from his wrath, for the time being.

Thanos would be resurrected by Death in The Silver Surfer to be her new champion, and become a thorn in the side of the Sentinel of the Spaceways.  Once again he acquired all of the Infinity Gems in the short two-part mini-series Thanos Quest and combined their power to reach a level of omnipotence in The Infinity Gauntlet mini-series.  His godhood however was short-lived and Thanos would retreat into seclusion

Over the next several years Thanos would appear throughout the Marvel Universe sometimes as hero, sometimes a villain, but always with an agenda all his own.  Finally Thanos allied himself with Annihilus during the Annihilation mini-series for the simple curiosity of wondering what effect his destructive force will have on the universe.  Eventually Thanos would have enough and turn on Annihilus, however he would be killed by Drax the Destroyer who has hunted the Titan for years.  But don’t mourn too deeply for him; in death Thanos would be granted his fondest wish and become the consort of Mistress Death.

Thanos is a mix of power, science, and mysticism.  Imbued with keen intellect, super-human strength, enhanced reflexes and endurance, and near invulnerability, Thanos was a serious threat to whoever stood in the way of his latest scheme.  His acceptance of both magic and science allowed him to combine the two to enhance his natural abilities, to teleport of long distances, and to travel through time and alternate dimensions.  Thanos would also appear on the short-lived Silver Surfer cartoon in “The End of Eternity” (a three-parter featuring the death of, well, everything) and the series final episode “Soul Hunter.”

I’m a fan of the character, in fact I will admit to owning a little Thanos Infinity Gauntlet action figure.  With the exception of Green Lantern, one thing Marvel does consistently better than DC is the cosmic high-minded and far-reaching adventure.  Thanos is is a big piece of that legacy from his early years battling Captain Marvel to his “final” moments in Annihilation.  In fact he is so important and influential Marvel Comics Online voted him #1 on their list of Marvel’s Greatest Cosmic Characters, beating out characters like The Silver Surfer, Nova, Captain Marvel, and Galactus.

For those interested reading some of the Mad Titan’s adventures I would recommend The Infinity Gauntlet trade paperback (the sequels aren’t as good, but are worth a look), and the Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos trade paperback featuring his return from the dead in the early 1990’s.  There are also several good Internet sites dedicated to the anti-hero including Thanos: The Mad Titan.

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