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Marvel’s biggest baddest maddest Titan has his own monthly series. I thoroughly enjoy his evil exploits in arcs like The Thanos Imperative and Infinity, so I’m glad to see him wreaking cosmic havoc on a regular basis. However, that’s not exactly what he’s up to lately. Thanos’s overpowered Inhuman son, Thane, stripped dad of his powers and left him for dead on Titan.
Now feeling painfully mortal, this issue finds Thanos face to face with his brother Starfox (former Avenger), Nebula (ya know, from the movies), and Tryco Saltterus (uh…you got me on that one). They originally come to finish him off, but now that Thane wields the Phoenix Force they want to recruit Thanos to kill his son. And he’s eager to do it!
While this installment in his quest to reclaim true power unfolds with a lot of standing around talking, the few glimpses we get of Thane unleashing makes for impressive art. Written by Jeff Lemire with art from German Peralta and colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, Thanos is a true cosmic trip that fondly nods to its characters’ storied pasts.
There’s a narration box that runs through Thanos #8 that takes serious cues from Jim Starlin’s early work on the character. At first this comes off slightly campy, but Lemire plays it so straight-faced it works. The height of this occurs when Thanos and Starfox are pulled into a black hole en route to find the Infinity Witches. As space and time bend, the narrator acknowledges it: “Wait. Something isssss wrooooonng..” To the point where the word boxes are actually written backwards on the next page. Brilliant and hilarious.
The characters are well developed too. Even when depowered, Thanos still gets his due as a threat. Starfox knows the only way to stop Thane is to enlist his mad father, even though he tries to destroy existence every couple years. This is a task Thanos is willing to attempt, but that mountain of distrust – particularly with Nebula – makes it difficult.
And there’s a lot of hate for him going around. Thanos’s ex-girlfriend Death, now sexy and talking, pushes Thane to more destructive heights. In their requisite stand-around-and-talk scene, Thane expresses unease at leaving Thanos alive. It’s a bit of an odd turn for the character, he starts out naive but still very powerful, so for him to go full on planet destroyer is a leap. Still, hate for Thanos always burns eternal, so let’s hope his trip to the Infinity Witches pays off.
In an issue with lots of dialogue, the art doesn’t have a ton to do. With Thanos weak his once imposing stature is now, as Starfox puts it, that of a space hobo. Even with minimal action, Peralta and Rosenberg do impressive work rendering these interactions. For example, Starfox using his preternatural charisma power to halt Nebula’s assault on Thanos. Just a few panels, but great facial expression work transitioning from rage to placated.
That’s not to say there aren’t impressive splash pages. There are two in which Thane gets to show off to Death with his new Phoenix powers. The destruction of an entire planet, followed by an assault on a Shi’ar fleet with no survivors. These are great space battle scenes, but the real masterpiece happens in the black hole.
Distortion reigns as Thanos and Starfox enter an inverted dimension. With inky blacks over nebulous pinks, they bleed into this new world rather than fall. Lastly, we meet the witches. Their appearance is pretty predictable as space-witches go, but there are some cool corpses in their graveyard of fallen gods.
Overall this is a worthy series to follow. Ripe with insane family drama, cool space battles, and hopefully a story that builds cohesively to involve other characters. It seems hard to fathom that a Phoenix powered offspring of Thanos wouldn’t get attention, but if Thane keeps throwing tantrums like these, it won’t be long.