Thanos: Thanos Wins by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw

Thanos: Thanos Winsby Donny Cates (writer), Geoff Shaw (artist), and Antonio Fabela (colorist)

Donny Cates tells one of the best stories of Thanos in Thanos Wins. The book collects Thanosissues #13-18 and Thanos Annual#1, and because it starts at issue #13, I have avoided the book, not having read issues #1-12 (though I mean to since they are by one of my favorite writers, Jeff Lemire). However, a friend recommended I skip #1-12 and jump straight to this collection because it is a standalone, self-contained story. I pass on the same recommendation to you: If you have any interest in Thanos or are a fan of Donny Cates, then you will like this book.

Many people have now heard of the Cosmic Ghost Rider, a new character in the Marvel Universe, and there is a good collection by Cates called the Cosmic Ghost Rider; however, this character was created by Cates in Thanos Winsso please start here before reading the later collection. Who is the Cosmic Ghost Rider? He is Frank Castle, or The Punisher, who has not only become the Spirit of Vengeance, Ghost Rider’s most known persona, but has also gained the Power Cosmic. Like the Silver Surfer, Frank Castle gains these powers from Galactus. Throw in the shard of one infinity stone, and the Cosmic Ghost Rider is one powerful guy.

The comic opens with doom and gloom, as is proper for a book about Thanos: “In the known universe, with all of its endless wonder and power, there exist a select few who are widely agreed upon — by those who calculate such things — to be the mightiest beings in all of existence.” After these words, on the first page of the comic, we are then shown glimpses of Galactus, Odin, Thor, Black Bolt and other Inhumans, the Hulk, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Silver Surfer. All of them, we are told, would “with a trembling voice and a heavy and honest heart . . . tell you the exact same thing. . . .” And when you flip to the second and third pages, you see in large bold print, “THANOS WINS.”

The rest of the book, of course, tells us how Thanos wins, and I don’t want to ruin the fun by giving spoilers. However, I will set up the opening premise: After Thanos defeats a planet in a few pages, the Cosmic Ghost Rider arrives on a mission from his boss: To deliver Thanos to him/her/it. Cates shows just how powerful the Cosmic Ghost Rider is when he battles Thanos. Can Thanos, who can defeat an entire planet singlehandedly, really be defeated by him? With the piece of the time stone in hand, the Cosmic Ghost Rider certainly has a chance. The end of issue one offers two surprises: Who wins the battle, and who the “boss” is. You’ll have to read the comic to find out the answers to those questions.

I recommend this comic highly. It is one of the most fun comic books I have read in a long time. I have grown a little tired of Marvel and DC in recent years, not to mention superhero comics in general, but Cates makes the genre exciting again. So, check out Thanos Wins, and then you’ll want to read Cosmic Ghost Riderfollowed by Cates’s six-issue Guardians of the Galaxy. The three books make for a great trilogy. Donny Cates is on fire, and if you have not read any of his work before, you will be pleasantly surprised by this book.


  • Brad Hawley

    BRAD HAWLEY, who's been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia.

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