Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer/Penciller: Jim Starlin
Inker: Andy Smith
Colourists: Frank D’Armata/Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Release Date: 6th August 2014
Jim Starlin makes his triumphant return to the character he is perhaps best known for here with Thanos: The Infinity Revelation. Granted, Starlin did officially return in last month’s Thanos Annual 2014 (which was, in itself, an intriguing look at the character), but in this 100-page original graphic novel, he gets a chance to really sink his teeth back into the character he created in the pages of Iron Man over four decades ago. In a lot of ways, that’s exactly what this story is about; an iconic creator taking hold of a character he knows better than anyone else and subtly, assuredly stating “Thanos is mine”. While it doesn’t quite reach the point of all-out retconning, Starlin uses this book to stamp his indelible mark back onto the Thanos legacy and lets all the previous creative teams know that, while they may have had their fun along the way, this is very much his baby. And to be honest, I’m not sure you can really fault that.
While the journey is undeniably compelling, it’s worth pointing out that the destination is barely removed from where we initially started off. In fact, the biggest change in storyline terms comes on the part of long-time adversary/ally Adam Warlock, who seems to have the far more intriguing story arc within these pages. This isn’t the villainous “Mad Titan” seeking to rule the galaxy or destroy all in his path, but is instead a more measured, contemplative Thanos who simply seeks a sense of understanding of the cosmic imbalance that has long been worrying him. It’s an intriguing meta-narrative where Thanos himself is acutely aware of the change in his own personality and the world around him, but can’t quite put his finger on it, and shows the inherent intelligence in Starlin’s writing as he plays on the changes that previous creative teams have made to Thanos over the years.
It also bears mentioning (even if it does somewhat go without saying) that this book looks absolutely gorgeous, with the hulking, grinning Thanos dominating proceedings and his cosmic exploits being broken up by several beautiful splash pages featuring the trippy, almost hallucinogenic dreamscapes that are unmistakably ‘Starlin’. D’Amatra and Rosenberg also inject further life into the pages with his bright, vibrant colours – no muted pallets or subtlety here, everything is bold primary colours, and the book looks all the better for it. Credit must also be paid to Joe Caramagna creative lettering, using different fonts and styles for several characters, and adding several neat visual flourishes along the way.
While some of the narrative can be burdened slightly by the reader’s assumed understanding of previous events and storylines, there are still a lot of great moments here for newcomers to the character and his mythos; as mentioned before, the visuals are fantastic, and Thanos’ exchange with The Defenders where he pretty much lays waste to the cosmic supergroup is pure unadulterated Thanos “fan service”, particularly to a longtime fanboy like myself. It doesn’t necessarily push the story forwards in any significant way, but witnessing Thanos cutting through the likes of Beta Ray Bill, Silver Surfer and Gladiator (the latter only up to a point) like a hot knife through butter is a fairly awesome spectacle.
Ever since his post-credits scene in The Avengers, Thanos has been something of a hot property, and following his recent appearance in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, interest in him has never been higher as people desperately scramble to find out more about the smirking, purple-skinned Titan. This may not perhaps be the best jumping-on point for newcomers to gain an understanding of Thanos – particularly the ‘Emperor Palpatine’-eque Josh Brolin version – but for long-time fans of the character, this provides a unique insight into the inner workings of his psyche, and shows a master comicbook craftsman carving out something truly memorable with some of his favourite tools.
You can purchase Thanos: The Infinity Revelation HC from Turnaround Publisher Services (who generously provided the review copy for this title) via their official website.
The writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson (aka Ceej)
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