The Thanos Imperative

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The Thanos Imperative is a six issue miniseries that includes two one-shot comics, one for a prologue and another for an epilogue. This series stars the Guardians of the Galaxy and Thanos as they try to stop an invasion from another reality where death does not exist. The ruler of this “Cancerverse” is Lord Mar-Vell who leads the Revengers, a Lovecraft inspired team of Avengers. A lot of the biggest cosmic characters are in this event as they all try to survive against the invading forces.

Thanos Imperative is the last big event by the team of Abnett and Lanning who have created the biggest cosmic events in the modern age of Marvel from Annihilation to Realm of Kings. Having only read Annihilation this comic does a good job keeping you up with previous events as the Ignition one-shot provides some context while advancing the story by introducing our villain. I really was surprised to see Lord Mar-Vell as the villain and the explanation for how he turned into one in his universe is very interesting as it’s unexpected. Unfortunately he falls into the generic side of villains as he does cliché things like killing his own subordinates for no good reason.

This story has a whole lot of characters and while that can be a strength as they’re obviously trying to tell this space epic, it can bog down things. The Inhumans and their drama with some other ruler is very irrelevant and just seems petty for them to argue at this time when everything is in danger. My favorite character in the comic was Cosmo and that’s because he’s a funny space dog who actually trash talks Thanos and does a lot to help the team. Nova and Star-Lord are the two main heroes here as they try and escort Thanos into the Cancerverse. They’re a good team and they have similar personalities that gives them good lines and jokes. The rest of the Guardians and the Cosmic beings don’t stand out much as they all play backseat to Thanos himself.

In this comic, for the first time, Thanos started to annoy me. There’s a lot of scenes of him and Drax just fighting and scenes of characters saying how great Thanos is. Having read all these comics about him, his scheming has just gotten old. Starlin himself criticized the constant deaths and rebirths of Marvel characters but here it just keeps happening with Thanos. There’s a lot of death in this comic and all of it now has been reversed so it’s hard to buy into the stakes of the event.

The Thanos Imperative has a few negatives but the positives outweigh them. The art is very good, the characters who are important are cool and have funny lines, the basic idea of the Cancerverse is something I’ve never seen before, and the Lovecraft inspired heroes are visually interesting villains.

Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artists: Miguel Sepulveda and Brad Walker

Rating: Full Price

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Thanos #1-12

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In 2003, Thanos starred in his first ever solo series written and drawn by his creator, Jim Starlin. After the first six issue arc the creative team of Keith Giffen and Ron Lim took over the title for the last six issues. The story takes place a while after the events of The End (Which is non-canon so I don’t really understand why it’s mentioned in this canon story.) Thanos decides to atone for his previous actions and helps out a small planet a clone of his had attacked a while ago. What starts as a simple mission to help becomes something bigger as Galactus becomes involved and something else that may be even bigger than him. After this arc Thanos joins up with some space cops at the edge of the universe to stop the Maker, a now female Beyonder.

So for the first time Thanos stars in an ongoing comic and now he’s become an anti-hero. While he does kill some people he tries to justify it every time and here he is truly just trying to help and make amends. This is a big change for the character as he’s spent a long time hanging around the edge of being an anti-hero. The first arc of this series “Hunger” is pretty good as Thanos fights against an unknown entity trying to invade this universe. It starts a little slow as Starlin sets up what Thanos is doing now and we get a recap of what has been happening in the past comics. It starts to pick up when Galactus shows up and there’s good fight scenes with him. The true villain is actually a new character and I wish it had showed up again as it was a little more unique than the usual invading alien. Starlin does the art for his issues and as always it’s very well done. My only other complaint with this arc is that characters just kind of pop up when they’re needed and then just disappear. Moondragon shows up for one issue and then is just thrown out once she’s served her purpose.

The second arc “Samaritan” doesn’t hold up as well as “Hunger.” There’s a lot going on in Samaritan as we are introduced to this prison called the Kyln and there’s a bunch of new characters being introduced. The problem though is that these characters seem to have a lot of background and history but we don’t really get told about them. The Omega Core characters are just some generic cops who banter a lot, Mynx is a generic cat like villain, and Skreet is an annoying pixie girl who Thanos lets join him for some reason. The other villains, the Maker and the Fallen One are just too confusing and that makes them uninteresting to me. The best part of this arc is the team of Gladiator and Star-Lord, making his first appearance here. They have an actually good banter and there’s some mystery as we hear about something awful that Peter Quill did that makes him give up the Star-Lord name.

The main focus of the comic though is Thanos and here Thanos is still written pretty well. Both writers keep a consistent character with him as he tries to atone for his sins but he still has some bad tendencies. Thanos, especially in the Hunger arc, shows off his intelligence and planning against a stronger foe while also being dismissive of people below him like Pip and Moondragon. I still wish the character had just died off in The End but Hunger wasn’t bad and I’d definitely recommend it for fans of Thanos. However, Samaritan is a pretty weak arc and since it’s half the story this comic is going to be dead in the middle in terms of rating.

Writers: Jim Starlin, Keith Giffen

Artists: Jim Starlin, Ron Lim

Rating: Buy for a Bargain

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Marvel: The End

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“The End” were a bunch of Marvel comics that told stories about the last days of their heroes like Hulk: The End or today’s comic, Marvel: The End. The story begins with Thanos narrating to an unseen character about how he destroyed the universe. The next few issues are Thanos telling this story about an ancient Egyptian pharaoh named Akhenaten who had gained the power of the Heart of the Universe and went crazy with it. He killed almost all of the world’s heroes so the only ones who were left to stop him were Doctor Doom, the Defenders, and Thanos. After the battle the whole universe was eventually destroyed so now Thanos is left with only one person because they were outside of the universe when it was destroyed.

Was surprisingly difficult to write a short plot summary because the plot of this six issue miniseries is wafer thin. The beginning sets the story up to be about Thanos fighting Akhenaten but it switches towards the end to be an Infinity Gauntlet retread. Thanos gains omnipotent power and fights against the cosmic forces of the universe and easily defeats them again. Akhenaten is another lame villain from Starlin that has no personality and just wants to take over and destroy stuff. He’s taken out pretty easily after the first half and then completely forgotten. Once again the main heroes are useless here and are just pawns for Thanos to use.

There are some positives here though. Again, Jim Starlin did the art here and I’m a fan of his style. There’s a lot of impressive splash pages with all the heroes and some of the cosmic beings. While most of the issues of this comic I thought were just ok, the last issue is actually very good. Starlin injects in this criticism of Marvel and their constant deaths and revivals. Thanos sees a flaw in the universe and it traces all the way back to the first revival of Wonder Man. It then has a very good ending for the Thanos character and I think it should have been the canon ending for him as this comic is just a What If style story.

So while the last issue and art are good the rest is just not that great and the fact that the story isn’t canon means it’s not that important even. I’d just recommend the final issue and think of that as Thanos’s last appearance.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artists: Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

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Infinity Abyss

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Infinity Abyss marks Jim Starlin’s return to the Infinity series after a nine year hiatus since Infinity Crusade. In this story, five clones of Thanos called the Thanosi are trying to destroy the universe. The Thanosi plan to prevent Atleza, the Anchor of the Universe, from selecting his successor and thus causing the world to be absorbed by nothingness. The only ones left to take them down are Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Thanos, Adam Warlock, and Genis-Vell.

The Infinity Abyss is a six issue miniseries but it really should not have been.The plot is very basic with these evil clones wanting to destroy the universe and the heroes stop them. There just isn’t enough story here to keep my interest and while I do like the banter from Genis and Spider-Man, the characters don’t have much going on. Dr. Strange gets a heavy focus here as he takes down a mind-controlled Moondragon (which is something repeated from Infinity Crusade) and one of the Thanosi. A whole lot of new characters are introduced here but none of them have any depth. The villains just want to destroy and only have a little personality because they’re based on other characters like Gladiator or Professor X. The final battle with Omega is hyped up throughout but when he’s defeated I couldn’t actually believe it happened because the way he was stopped was so underwhelming.

Some positives here would have to be the art. Starlin is doing double duty as writer and artist. There are some weird visuals like in the Doctor Strange/Moondragon fight that I liked and just the art overall has good moments showing off the Marvel Universe. While I don’t like their characters, the Thanosi have cool designs that mixes the Thanos look with other Marvel heroes into a unique appearance. I also really like the ending here with Gamora and Warlock finally getting together.

I wanted to give this one a pass as it’s just forgettable but I’m dying to come up with something to say because it’s very boring. Something this boring should never be read.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artist: Jim Starlin

Rating: Rubbish

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Thanos: Cosmic Powers

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Now here’s a book I’d never heard of until preparing for this marathon. Cosmic Powers, later collected as Thanos: Cosmic Powers, is a six issue miniseries that is told in six one shots about different characters in the Marvel universe. There’s a running story throughout each issue about Thanos preparing to take on Tyrant, an extremely powerful cosmic being. Each issue spotlights a character or pair of characters as in issue 3 and there’s one writer but a few artists so quality is definitely going to vary between issues.

This series actually starts off really well with a mostly silent battle where Thanos wipes out an army singlehandedly. Ron Lim is a very good artist so the first issue is definitely the highlight of the comic. Ron Marz writes Thanos pretty well and he really gets the character about as well as Starlin. The next issue focuses on Terrax, someone I’ve never cared about, but the story is good if a little cliché. Jeffrey Moore’s art isn’t bad but it has weird quirks like Terrax’s giant shoulder pads sometimes and the MS Paint looking blood. The next issue is about Jack of Hearts and Ganymede who are two more characters I either don’t know or don’t care about, but they both look ridiculous and Ganymede is supposed to be important in beating in Tyrant but that doesn’t really pay off. Their own solo stuff doesn’t really matter until Thanos arrives and beats them down. The art by Andy Smith is good except for the last page of Legacy which just looks gross.

Speaking of, Legacy is the next issue and I actually like the character. He’s Genis-Vell, the son of Captain Marvel and he goes out to kill Nitro, his father’s killer. It’s predictable what’s going to happen here but it’s a cool brawl. Lim does the art for this issue too so it’s still very high quality. The next issue is about Morg, another character I don’t know and it has art by Tom Grindberg so I was dreading this issue. However, Grindberg’s art here is actually good and nothing like his Infinity Watch issues. There’s still one really weird image that the anatomy of confuses me but that’s it. The story isn’t interesting as Morg is just another Galactus herald which is a character type repeated three times in this series. The final issue about Tyrant is just one big battle where the heroes fight Tyrant and we learn that he is also a former herald. Everyone except Thanos is useless in the battle so we just watch them battle for a while and that’s the end of the story. Scot Eaton is on art here and it’s just fairly standard 90s Marvel fare.

So overall I’d probably just recommend the Ron Lim drawn issues as they have the two best characters in the two most interesting stories.

Writer: Ron Marz

Artists: Ron Lim, Tom Grindberg, Scot Eaton, Jeffrey Moore, Andy Smith

Rating: Borrow from a Mate

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Infinity Crusade

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Now we’ve reached the end of the original Infinity trilogy. Infinity Gauntlet was amazing and War wasn’t that great so I didn’t know what to expect from this one. Infinity Crusade is an event about the good half of Warlock that was shown back in Infinity War. The good half is actually a woman calling herself a Goddess and she brainwashes half of the Marvel universe to serving her. It’s up to the more scientific characters, Warlock, and Thanos to take her down.

Alright here we go with this one. This comic talks a lot about religion and faith and it does not handle it well. The characters that are mind controlled by the Goddess are all noted to be religious or have had near death experiences. Because of this, only science based heroes are left to fight and there’s obvious subtext there about logic winning over faith. Also the main characters are assisted by Mephisto, who is basically Satan, to fight against the God-like villain. There’s no subtlety here and it’s painful and probably would be offensive to the religious if it wasn’t so lame.

With that out of the way I wanna talk about how everything else is still bad about this comic. We have the same problem Infinity War had; the villain is still just not interesting. She has a lot of power and wants to destroy the universe and that’s all there is to her character. She has the heroes on her side but it’s just basic mind control so there is no conflict between friends or any moral arguments between characters. Warlock Chronicles tries to give her depth by saying she’s his ignored feminine side and something about how men ruin everything. It’s a confusing issue and there’s a lot of weird visuals in it and whatever message Starlin is trying to send by having Warlock be half a woman for an issue.

This story takes place over three titles: the main event, Warlock and The Infinity Watch, and Warlock Chronicles. Because of that this comic just goes on for so long and there’s a lot of filler. I like Pip but he wastes so much time in the story with comedy scenes that aren’t that funny. Tom Grindberg is still on Infinity Watch and I seriously couldn’t read his Drax vs Thor issue because of how awful the fight looked. One compliment I’ll give this book is there’s a similar fight scene in Warlock Chronicles that is actually really good with Warlock fighting Magus. That scene is great and I enjoyed the art overall in the main story and in Chronicles. Another big problem I have with this comic is one carried over from Infinity War; the heroes are useless and only Thanos and Warlock do anything relevant to the story.

So to end this I’m gonna include two pictures at the bottom of the post, instead of just one as a comparison of two very similar ideas done wrong in one picture and done well in another.

Writer: Jim Starlin

Artists: Ron Lim, Tom Grindberg, Angel Medina, Tom Raney, Kris Renkewitz

Rating: Rubbish

 

Infinity War Aftermath

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After defeating the Magus in Infinity War, Adam Warlock is now in a coma. With him out of the picture it’s up to the rest of the Infinity Watch to defend their home of Monster Island and their Infinity Gems. The Watch battle multiple enemies from demons to the Hulk. Warlock finally awakens to go on an adventure to Hell itself with the Silver Surfer to fight for the soul of the Surfer’s former love, Shalla-Bal. Also, Quasar battles an evil Quasar after being trapped in the White Room.

As you can see in the above description there’s a lot going on the aftermath of the Infinity War and like the Infinity Gauntlet’s aftermath a lot of it doesn’t connect that well. Like last time the most important stuff in the collection are the Infinity Watch stories and besides the Drax focused two issue story it’s some of the weaker bits of Infinity Watch I’ve read. We get two issues that are basically just retelling the character’s origins; one time it’s a jumping on point I guess and the next is to bring Warlock out of his coma. There’s the good Drax portion where he battles Hulk which has some good intrigue and tension as we see Drax starting to remember his past troubles with Moondragon and his old life. Then we get two issues that are so horrible because they contain some of the worst art I’ve ever seen in a comic book. Tom Grindberg does the pencils for the last two issues and it makes them almost unreadable.

The Silver Surfer/Warlock team up is a pretty ok miniseries about them battling Mephisto together. There’s some interesting visuals during the battle and the Surfer has some fun interaction with the Infinity Watch. The ending is kind of expected though because of just how tragic the Surfer’s life must be and I don’t buy what Starlin is trying to do with Warlock. Here he’s presented almost as an anti-hero with an evil smile as he is first introduced that just doesn’t fit with what I’ve seen before of the character. The Surfer doesn’t trust him even though nothing Warlock has done really merits distrust. It just feels like unnecessary drama to make the story more interesting and to make a morally grey character by telling and not showing.

The Quasar story is probably the weirdest thing to be included in this collection. After trying to use the Ultimate Nullifier to fight the Magus, Quasar is trapped inside the White Room while a clone of the original Marvel Boy tries to take his place as the Protector of the Universe. Thanos makes his only appearance here as he is the one who revived the villain, Thelius. We see Quasar stuck in the White Room for a while as Thelius teams up with the Punisher and tries to become an Avenger. The two eventually meet in the White Room and fight until Quasar reveals a last minute power boost and wins. There’s not much to the story and Thelius is a pretty annoying villain even though I’m a fan of the character he’s a clone of.

Overall these series are all pretty skippable for the main Thanos story and aren’t that good on their own anyway.

Writers: Jim Starlin, Mark Gruenwald

Artists: Tom Grindberg, Jim Starlin, Andy Smith, Angel Medina, Tom Raney

Rating: Rubbish

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