By: Jason Aaron (Writer), Simone Bianchi (Artist), Ive Svorcina (Colorist)
The Story: Thanos goes away from Titan and tries to leave a normal life as analyzed by him, which somehow mean being a pirate and siring as many offspring’s as he can.
The Review: How were you introduced to Thanos, the Mad Titan?
It may seems like a pretty simple question, yet it is a vital one considering the potential point of view one may have on this issue and the part of the series as a whole. Me, I was presented to this stunning villain by a pretty great story called The Infinity Gauntlet where I was shown a character that seemed to be caught in a moral conundrum unique only to his being, one that made him act in ways that seemed logical, yet also insanely. In this story, he acquired ultimate power only to be deprived of the only thing he wanted, resulting in him going mad with powers and fighting cosmic beings and entity. It was a grand tale that gave me a character that was truly fascinating to see, as we could understand his motivation even though he was committing universal genocide on a scale unheard of in comics.
Another story that cemented a certain take on this character was one of my very favourite events of all time, Annihilation. In this, the character was capable of manipulating powerful beings and had his own agenda as he was contributing to the whole plot by his very presence and his very action, being instrumental to the tale as a whole. Although it wasn’t penned by Jim Starlin, the very best Thanos scribe of all, he was still written in ways that felt close to the real deal by Keith Giffen. This was a being of colossal importance that played with great risks and gambled with impossible odds, only to always come up on top with his mad intelligence. This is the Thanos I know and love.
So it comes a little bit as a disappointment that Jason Aaron, a writer that I know can do great things, very much fails to bring a vision that is in accord to what the characters has always been. Now, I know that characters can always be reinterpreted in various ways and still ring true to the core of their beings, yet this version of Thanos just seems a bit hollow and just uninteresting. Worse, it even seems to lessen the legend of this character that always operated on such a grand and cosmic scale.
What brings such damage seems to be the humanization of his trouble and his life throughout his search for many things, including love and acceptance. In a way, presenting Thanos as a lost soul with a side of being a psychopath seems like the logical thing to do in presenting us the conflict the character is going through, yet it does not seem to work very well according to the mythos established by Jim Starlin. The very reason justifying that is that Jason Aaron has an angle that does not work very well with the vision of Thanos given to us throughout the years, where we see him as a being that is okay with being manipulated and seems to completely hate himself. In various stories, it is hinted that Thanos fails when he gets ultimate power because he does think himself worthy of possessing it, which is always presented in a subtle and much more meaningful way. Here, though, it is hammered down with every decision and every line the character vocalizes through his adventures and his thoughts.
Worse yet, it presents us a version of the character that is not villainous at all. While it seems like a rather ambiguous thing to say, considering the character always ventured between the neutral and downright evil area of the moral balance, here he is presented almost like a puppet of fate and of Death, as if he had no choice and had been manipulated since his birth. This just does not concord at all with the relation between Death and Thanos set up in previous stories, where Death is passive and is a necessary entity that just wants to do her task, while Thanos is the one eager to please her by committing various acts in her name. It changes the whole dynamic of Death being okay with Thanos trying to woo her and their relationship being more ambiguous, which was a rather fascinating and poetic way of dealing with an entity as important as Death.
In terms of plots, there are a lot of weak points too, as many of the things here are introduced in rather unceremonious ways, as if Jason Aaron had to reach some plot points quickly and just wanted to skip to some parts. It feels a bit rushed, as we get to see Thanos trying to fill the holes in his life with a job and sex without any result. As the character feels hollow through his various acts and adventures, so does the story as it is told in his very perspective. Even in some key moments, we get no explanation on just how things got this way, with the confrontation between Thanos and his pirate captain being precipitated to a conclusion without Thanos or the reader knowing just how it finished this way. While it may seems like destiny made him wield a blade through his adversary in order for him to survive, it is told in a quick and inconclusive way, cementing the fact that Thanos has no control over his very being, as if he was a victim rather than a maniac.
If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it would be Simone Bianchi who does his very best to bring out the cosmic look everywhere. He can draw alien landscape, the depth of space and weirdly humanoid shaped creatures from space rather well, although some of his panelling his a little bit too standard here. While he was a tad experimental with his architectures and his backgrounds when the story was on Titan, it goes a bit toward the uninspired when dealing with outer space. Still, his characters are rather expressive and he deserves credit for that.
Ivo Svorcina also does his very best here, giving us a weird composition of colors that fits with the more outlandish and cosmic background of this story about a psychopath in space. He does create something unfamiliar that deserves some praise as he livens up the background with his work.
The Conclusion: While the art team does its very best to liven things up, this vision of Thanos and his progression through life is just uninspired and dulls out one of the better antagonists that Marvel has in his repertory. Let’s just say that I won’t find out if it gets better next month. Dropped.
Hugo Robberts Larivière