He’s the Mad Titan, Death’s BF, the MCU’s biggest bad, and Gamora and Nebula’s terrible dad. Yup, of course I’m talking about Thanos, the comic book creation who now holds the power to destroy the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. But who is this angry purple man from space? Why does he love that giant gold glove so much? And what are those bloody gems all about? Luckily for you, we’ve selected seven of the best Thanos comics to get you excited and educated about Thanos just in time for Avengers: Infinity War!
Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos – Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, Tom Christopher, Tom Vincent, and Ken Bruzenak
In Silver Surfer #34, Thanos is resurrected and vows to kill half the universe in tribute to Mistress Death. Surfer attempts to thwart this mad plan, but finds himself duped by the Mad Titan. After a diversion including the resurrection of Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Drax, Thanos commandeers Nebula’s spaceship and begins his quest in earnest, but not before getting the upper hand on the Silver Surfer once again. Along with the Mad Titan’s return, this run is notable for launching Ron Lim and Jim Starlin’s collaboration on an epic Thanos journey spanning countless issues over more than 25 years!
Thanos Quest – Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, John Beatty, Tom Vincent, and Ken Bruzenak
Continuing directly after Silver Surfer #38, this two-issue prestige miniseries sees Thanos hatch a plan to collect the six Soul Gems and use them to erase half of all living creatures from the universe. One by one, Thanos confronts the cosmic beings who posses these powerful jewels that embody Time, Space, Power, Mind, Reality, and Soul. He bests all of his opponents and decides to rename his shiny colorful prizes Infinity Gems for their ability to control, well, everything. Still, Mistress Death is unimpressed and a spurned Thanos is ever determined to gain her love.
The Infinity Gauntlet – Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim, Joe Rubinstein, Christie Scheele, and Jack Morelli
Thanos takes center stage in this legendary six-issue miniseries at the core of the sprawling line-wide Marvel Comics crossover from 1991. It begins with the Mad Titan achieving his objective to kill half of the universe, only to find himself opposed by the Avengers, X-Men, and more of Earth’s heroes. In the end, Thanos defeats himself, finding the omnipotence granted by the Infinity Gauntlet to be all too much to handle. Renowned Avengers artist George Perez begins this terrific tale before handing the reins over to Ron Lim for the second half.
The Infinity War – Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, Al Milgrom, Ian Laughlin, and Jack Morelli
Starlin and Lim returned months later with another six-issue epic at the middle of a Marvel crossover, with Thanos fighting alongside Earth’s champions against a massive cosmic threat. Magus, the manifestation of Adam Warlock’s evil, collects five Cosmic Cubes to create malevolent doppelgängers of Marvel’s heroes, but he longs for the Infinity Gems’ omnipotent power. Nearly every Marvel character gets into this terrific tussle as Magus takes control of the Infinity Gauntlet. Alas, in true Thanos fashion, it’s all a trick; the Mad Titan held onto the real Reality Gem and thus the Magus is summarily defeated.
Infinity Abyss – Jim Starlin, Al Milgrom, Christie Scheele, and Jack Morelli
A decade after Infinity War and the numerous cosmic crossovers that followed it, Jim Starlin tackled the task of writing and drawing a different kind of Thanos miniseries, self-contained and focused on a smaller cast. Gone were the Infinity Gems but the doppelgängers concept remained, with a group of nihilistic Thanos clones out to destroy the original Mad Titan and the rest of the universe. Starlin cleverly used the clones to suggest that any previous appearances of Thanos that he didn’t himself write probably weren’t the real deal, streamlining the character’s continuity with a wink and a nod.
Thanos: The Infinity Finale – Jim Starlin, Ron Lim, Andy Smith, Guru-eFX, and Clayton Cowles
Over 25 years after they resurrected Thanos as Death’s paramour, Starlin and Lim completed their romantic tale in this hardcover graphic novel. This book is also the third part of a trilogy of graphic novels that Starlin made following the the Mad Titan’s reveal in 2012’s Avengers film. In the previous installment, Thanos sacrificed himself at the end, and this volume begins with Mistress Death bringing him back from the brink yet again, echoing the opening of Silver Surfer #34. The scope of the story here is both intimate and infinite, with Thanos fighting on both psychological and physical levels to stop Annihilus from annihilating—you guessed it!—the universe.
Thanos: The Infinity Siblings – Jim Starlin, Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Ciane Dusk, and Clayton Cowles
Although Infinity Finale seemed to neatly wrap up the saga of Thanos and Death, the timestream is an ever-changing thing. So Starlin returned this year with the start of another trilogy of Thanos graphic novels, potentially the creator’s last time writing the Mad Titan due to a falling out with Marvel editorial. This comic is largely about, as the title suggests, the relationship between brothers Thanos and Starfox, two cosmic beings with notably different ways of approaching existence. It’s a tale of time travel and evolution that brings veteran artist Alan Davis into the mix with wonderful results.
Do you have a favorite Thanos story? Excited to explore the legacy of Ron Lim and Jim Starlin? Just wanna see dream daddy Thanos on screen? Let us know in the comments!
Images: Marvel Comics