REVIEW: Thanos Rising #1 (of 5)

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Or – “Hey, It’s That Guy From The Credits!”

With a certain purple-skinned Eternal getting some high-profile attention, it was pretty much inevitable that we’d get to see more of his adventures.  What I didn’t expect was for them to expand his backstory to provide a psychological reason for his demented brand of evil.  The question is, does it work?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

ThanosRising1CoverTHANOS RISING #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Colorist: Simone Peruzzi
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Thanos Rising: The man known as Thanos grew up on Titan amid a society of perfect, nigh-immortal Eternals, alongside his beautiful brother Eros.  He grew to worship Death herself, and has clashed with champions of life and liberty repeatedly, even becoming the first to assemble the Infinity Gems and channel their power.  Of course, he always seems to sabotage himself before destroying everything, which begs the question:  Is Thanos really so bad after all?

DID… DID THEY JUST QUOTE BOB MARLEY?

We open with a quietly disturbing scene, as Thanos returns to Titan, stalking through the now-dead city of the Eternals, returning home as he does once a year, to visit the corpses of his hometown.  Strangely, he doesn’t have murder on his mind, nor is he formulating some awful plan to murder everyone named Meyer or some crap, instead Thanos is intent upon, as the narrative tells us, “remembering who he is.”  It’s kind of an odd statement, but as we trigger the flashback, things get truly weird.  We see Thanos being born, and his mother Sui-San losing her mind and trying to murder her newborn infant with a knife.  Simone Bianchi’s art is striking throughout, and admittedly the sight of the pustule-covered purple infant is pretty disgusting, but I can’t quite figure out what it is she sees.  Much like the treatment of Baby Loki in ‘Journey Into Mystery,’ we’re shown that Young Thanos is almost likeable, playing with the other kids, and desperately trying to fit in.  His biggest issues seem to be an inattentive father in Mentor, and the fact that his mother remains in an insane asylum…

HUMANIZING THE INHUMAN (EVEN IF HE’S AN ETERNAL.)

There are some weird moments with the art though, starting with the depiction of the main character himself, as Bianchi draws a child’s body with a big rubbery Thanos head atop it, something that is kind of hard to reconcile, and the appearance of strange giant iguanas all over Titan is beautiful, but hard to fathom.  Are they merely symbolic or are they there?  When  a tragedy occurs, it becomes clear that at least SOME of the creatures may be alive, but their sudden appearances and disappearances make me wonder if there’s something else going on here.  Thanos also has run-ins with a strange pale-skinned girl who I’m almost certain is the “woman” he grows up to obsess over, which would put a WHOLE new face on his later insanities.  A villain who kills for the love of one he can never have is one thing, but a villain who does the same thing because he was taunted as a child by that woman is still another (somewhat more sympathetic character.)

THE BOTTOM LINE:  CUTE BABY THANOS GIVES ME THE WILLIES.

The final images of the story are what I expected of a Thanos tale, but the build-up to it, especially young Thanos being taunted by the other children of the Eternal city, is not.  That’s not to say that the story is a bad one, it’s actually pretty moving, and makes me really feel for the character, so long as I am willing and able to forget everything I already knew about Thanos’ previous appearances.  Is this a whole new continuity?  Of course, I’ve been asking that about the entirety of the Marvel NOW! output, and I’ve discovered that the best answer is, “I believe it is, and it works on those terms.”  Thanos Rising #1 is a puzzlement, with a lot of unanswered questions, but it is a good-looking comic with great coloring, and a strong story that doesn’t quite fit the character, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!


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