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Comics 411: The Greatest Thanos Stories Of All-Time

April 25, 2018 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Thanos Infinity Gauntlet

I’m Steve Gustafson and thanks for stopping by. Don’t forget to check out 411mania’s Comic Book Review Roundtable, every Thursday! Read up on the best reviews and let us know what you’re reading as well. Click to read the latest Comic Book Review Roundtable! Exiles #1, Batman #44, and more!

Now, on with the show!

Last week we took The Worst Avengers of All Time! Here’s what some of you had to say:

Gold Any Ranger: “Living Lightning. He never did anything to stand out during his tenure with the West Coast team.”

John: “I always feel like these worst of Avengers lists are kinda cop outs. For me the five worst avengers aren’t the ones that are here today gone tomorrow and relics of the past. For me I would list only established Avengers and people who could end up on another Avengers team.

1. Black Knight – bland character, dumb powers just along to fill out a roster and swords look cool. He is the HR of the Avengers a complete joke.

2. The Thing – all three Fantastic Four players have been on the team but for me The Thing was a worst. He had none of the pathos that you found in FF and none of the humor from his solo efforts. Really they could have just picked Colossus from the X-men and he would have served a better purpose on the team.

3. Captain Marvel (Danvers) – I hear they’ve rehabilitated the character of the years but I know her as the victim/obstacle for 20 years. She was basically the Hawkeye/Iron Man proxy in the 80’s but female which for some reason made it worse.

4. Black Panther sometimes he’s treated like this big alumni but I only remember his debut with the team and then nothing else. When you’ve been a better replacement Fantastic Four member than Avenger you’ve got problems.

5. Wonder Man, the Simon stories tend to be pretty good but they come along once a decade or so. He always gets that stop and start push he could have a great run on the book like Wanda, Spiderman, Sentry(FIGHT ME), or Hawkeye.”

Earl Chatterton: “I appreciated Druid back when he joined during the classic 80s Avengers run. I liked that he looked like a real person…bald on top, bit chubby. Certainly didn’t need that dumb costume though. I thought they turned him bad guy too quickly, and felt like they just wanted the non-glamorous Avenger off the team soon as possible.

Always liked Stingray, and there’s so much cool stuff surrounding Sentry. The dude destroyed Asgard and ripped Carnage in half!”

rf: “no worst Avengers list is complete without RAGE. I almost stopped reading because of him.”

Shadow: “Hank Pym. He creqted Ultron I believe he is responsible for the virus that cause Marvel zombies, calls himself Scientist Supremem a title borrowed from A.I.M. is overall insecure and extremely jealous of the attention Stark Richards and even Beast get and often creates dangerous things to compensate.

Also. Butterball, he’s a fat frycook who is invulnerable but thats it, no strngth in fact he isnt physically fit and the nature of his invulneabilty means he can not become so. His powers reset his body to its current state so it is impossible for him to get stronger or faster.

Yes going Avngers academy is cheating so wht”

Thomas Stockel: “While I liked Busiek’s run he wasn’t able to create new characters that really clicked with anyone. Silverclaw and Triathalon were both pretty lame.”

El Atomico: “Didn’t Hank Pym change identities like four times in the first dozen issues? Also, I remember him being in the West Coast Avengers where he wore a scarf with all kinds of tiny weapons in it that he could grow when needed. Cool trick, I guess, but not exactly Wolverine or Iron Man.”

Ace3359: “How about The Swordsman? The mentor of Hawkeye who was basically a clone of Hawkeye only with swords. The only time I liked him was how he died, sacrificing himself.

Might add Jack of Hearts as well. I know some liked him, but I had trouble getting behind a guy who had to spent the majority of the day locked up in a containment room so he wouldn’t blow up.”

redraptor: “Agree on all points except one. Triathlon was terrible, but I felt his story in The Initiative as 3D Man with the Skrull Kill Krew redeemed him as a viable character. I still remember him wasting the Ring during Secret Invasion. Hysterical. The Initiative/Avengers Academy run are probably some of my favorite Avengers books if for no other reason it revelled in the D list heroes and mostly made them interesting.”

Wrestling Fan: “The whole Dr. Druid era was really really really [imagine i typed the word ‘really’ hundreds of times] bad. Irredeemably bad. The only way it could have been worse is if it had been part of Heroes Reborn.”

To read ALL the comments from the column, CLICK HERE! As always, thanks for the input!

This week we discuss…

The Greatest Thanos Stories!

Avengers: Infinity War is here and plenty of general audience members are asking, “Who is Thanos?” Let’s take a look at the Mad Titan and the stories that best encompass his character.

Thanos made his first appearance back in 1973 in the pages of Iron Man #55. The great writer/artist Jim Starlin had created Thanos during college psychology classes. As Starlin described:

“I went to college between doing U.S. military service and getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos…and Drax the Destroyer, but I’m not sure how he fit into it, just anger management probably. So I came up to Marvel and [editor] Roy [Thomas] asked if I wanted to do an issue of Iron Man. I felt that this may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it. Thanos was a much thinner character and Roy suggested beefing him up, so he’s beefed up quite a bit from his original sketches…and later on I liked beefing him up so much that he continued to grow in size.”

Yes, Starlin admitted the character’s look was influenced by Jack Kirby’s Darkseid.

Before we jump into things, I wanted to point out that I’m focusing on stories that really showcase who Thanos is. You won’t see The Death of Captain Marvel on here because while Thanos makes an impact in the story, his appearance only has weight if you know the relationship he and Captain Marvel had over the years.

I could make an entire list on Thanos related crossovers alone. While I may reference a few, I’m trying to keep it to stories that have stood out and stood above.

One crossover that I wasn’t a big fan of is ‘Infinity’. I’ve never been able to really click with stories that introduce a child into a scenario. Yes, we’re talking about comic books but Thanos doesn’t need to be “humanized” with having an offspring, an Inhuman-Eternal hybrid son, Thane.

I will give recognition to Infinity Gauntlet #1-6. Perhaps the best crossover that introduced so many cool elements by Starlin accompanied by amazing art from George Perez, Ron Lim and Joe Rubinstein. It’s bold, epic, and it’s a story that I still can go back and enjoy.

While Infinity War and Infinity Crusade had their highlights, they never reached the same level of excellence ‘Infinity Gauntlet’ had. Make no mistake, both are great stories that set up Thanos as a major threat and one who is passionate about destruction.

By the way, you’ll be seeing Starlin’s name a number of times on here. No one writes Thanos like Starlin does. He gives each appearance a sense of importance and weight.

If you’re looking for a well done prequel to Infinity Gauntlet, pick up Thanos Quest #1-2. Starlin pits Thanos against the current holders of the Infinity Gems and gives us an ending filled with dread of what’s to come.

Taking it back, Strange Tales #178-181 and Warlock #9-11 compose what is known as the Magus Saga. Written and penciled by Starlin, this storyline brushed the dust of of Warlock and introduced Pip the Troll and Gamora to the Marvel Universe. It also gave us Magus, an evil version of Warlock, which forced him to team up with Thanos.

Captain Marvel #25-33 gave us ‘The Thanos War’. Again, Starlin and and Mike Friedrich introduce Thanos’ obsession with mass carnage and death. In this story he tries to use the Cosmic Cube to do so with Captain Marvel and friends standing against him.

Starlin’s Silver Surfer had plenty of great moments with Thanos. The first, ‘The Rebirth of Thanos’ in issue #34-38 actually set up the Infinity Gauntlet.

In Silver Surfer #45, Thanos got center stage and we were treated to a battle of wills and skills between him and Mephisto.

Starlin gave Thanos an “end” in ‘The Final Threat’ Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2. A great wrap up between Thanos and Warlock that wouldn’t last.

Issues #1-6 of the Thanos series, presents Thanos vs Galactus along with a well balanced supporting cast. The story is largely underrated but gives a nice look at a different side of the Mad Titan.

A number of times Thanos finds himself on the side of angels, and this is the case in Marvel Universe: The End #1-6. Like everything else, Starlin introduces us to the Egyptian Pharaoh, Akhenaten, and his quest for absolute power. Thanos joins with the Defenders, with interesting results.

While I said I wouldn’t delve into crossovers, I would be remiss without mentioning ‘Annihilation’, ‘The Thanos Imperative’, and ‘Thanos Rising’. All worthy of tracking down and enjoying.

What about you? What’s your favorite Thanos story? Was there an Infinity Watch issue you enjoyed? Comment below!

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!