An Introduction to Thanos: Marvel’s Supreme Villain!

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsSilver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos and The Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin

fantasy and science fiction book reviewsIf you are at all interested in the villain haunting the cosmic portion of the Marvel Universe, then you might want to check out these two titles: Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos and The Infinity Gauntlet. Both are trade collections that tell one grand story of the power-hungry Titan known as Thanos. You’ve seen his big, scheming smile on his enormous purple face at the end of The Avengers, and you are going to see more and more of it in the coming years as Hollywood embraces a new villain in space: Darth Vadar, please stand aside, here comes Thanos!

Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos starts with some of the best art I’ve ever seen as the Silver Surfer begins telling us his story which leads up to his witnessing the rebirth of Thanos at the hands of Death, who orders her minions to release Thanos from a mysterious casket. Death, in this book, is personified as a woman in a robe. Thanos is in love with her and calls her his mistress. However, when we first see her, she is a skeleton. Through the eyes of Thanos, she will eventually be transformed into a beautiful woman. His passion for her leads him to seek out the six soul gems, or Infinity gems, to recreate the Infinity Gauntlet that will give anyone who wields it ultimate control over Time, Space, Mind, Power, Reality, and Soul.fantasy and science fiction book reviews

There are several aspects of the book that make it a fun ride: First, is the art. Ron Lim is amazing. His artwork is what really makes this book stand out, in my opinion. I think the images I’ve included in this review speak volumes. If you like the art at all, you’re gonna love the book. It’s very consistentd — small masterpiece after masterpiece.

Second, I love the plot: Starlin came up with some great ideas in demonstrating how Thanos would have to figure out a way to take each gem away from its current owner. I don’t want to give any spoilers about any of those specific battles, but the last battle is certainly my favorite.

Finally, I have been very interested in the creation of evil comic book characters who hold evil environmental agendas that are ultimately for our good, from Ra’s Al Ghul to Poison Ivy to Thanos. In this book, Thanos tells Silver Surfer that the human population explosion is unsustainable environmentally, and he takes the Surfer to some other planets that will face similar problems in the future. It’s quite disturbing to listen to a villain point out problems that bother all of us and then offer a solution that would actually work theoretically even though it’s an evil one: Killing off half the population of the Universe. Clearly his solution is not ethically good, but, Starlin implies, what are we going to do instead? And why is a villain ready to devote all his time to this major problem when most of us are not?

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The Infinity Gauntlet continues the story started in Rebirth: And you can’t read the first without reading this one. Why read about how Thanos collected the Infinity Gems if you’re not gonna read how he uses them?! And of course, the real fun is watching which heroes he must battle. Any guesses? That’s right: As many as Jim Starlin could fit in! From The Avengers, X-Men, and Dr.

silver surfer deathStrange to cosmic beings like The Beyonder and Galactus. Other great characters join the battle: Adam Warlock, Drax the Destoyer, and even Doctor Doom! What really makes this story a great one is Starlin’s absolutely perfect ending. The art here is just as good as the previous volume since Ron Lim is accompanied by the George Perez who is well-known for his cosmic art showcasing a large cast of characters.

I truly love these two books, this one big story, but the story is not a flawless one. There’s a little too much punching and fighting beyond what seems worth reading. I take off half a star for that. The other half a star is lost because of the dialogue: It is very stiff and dated. It’s going to sound bad to those who are new to comics or who want only the most sophisticated of tales.

However, in defense of the language, we should note that the book tells a grand story that almost demands such over-the-top language: How else is a mad Titan named Thanos supposed to speak as he takes control of something called an Infinity Gauntlet in order to kill have the population in the universe? Also, when I decided to sit down and read this book aloud infinity gtto my eight-year-old son, I realized the language, as silly as it was, was perfectly suited to the story. I really had fun reading it, and my son loved the story. Some more recent comics that are well-written don’t actually read aloud as well as some of these older comics, surprisingly.

So, even though the stories are a little dated in terms of the punching and hitting and even though the language is a little stiff, the story IS a good one and it does bring up interesting questions that are actually of even more relevance than they were in 1977, when the story first started. Plus, these two books are a great place to start for those who are enjoying the Marvel movies. For me it’s fun to imagine being a kid reading these comics right off the rack. I would have been seven-years-old when they were coming out. I really wish somebody I knew had been getting me into comics at that age. I now have tons of comic books I read that satisfy the 43-year-old Brad Hawley. It’s nice to have some that speak to the seven- to twelve-year-old Brad that comes alive when I read these stories!


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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. Read Brad's series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

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  1. Fanboy Friday! Cosmic Odyssey by Jim Starlin | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews - […] would be interesting to read after Jim Starlin’s The Infinity Gauntlet, a story about Thanos that I’ve already reviewed.…

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