Whether you’ve been a fan of the Mad Titan since he was introduced in the pages of Iron Man #55 way back in 1973 or his haughty purple mug piqued your interest following the credits of The Avengers, you’re in luck: the origin of one of Marvel’s most notorious villains is revealed in Thanos Rising #1 with writer Jason Aaron and artist Simone Bianchi at the helm. Is It Good?
Thanos Rising #1 (Marvel Comics)
We open on Titan, largest moon of Saturn. Birthplace of Thanos. All that’s left here is a spectral wasteland; a landscape of the damned. Where nothing remains except for the ashes of what once was. And Thanos of course. He’s here to visit. To reminisce. He stoops over an old gravestone, dusts it off, and remembers.
Flashbacks to Thanos’ birth. Seems the boy’s a bit of an anomaly. The scientists are naturally alarmed, but Daddy dearest is strangely galvanized by the news:
If only Ma Dukes were as welcoming:
Hasn’t ol’ Sui-San ever watched Forrest Gump? How is her boy gonna get the same opportunities as everyone else on Titan if she knifes him in his pruny, bruise-colored, infantile little gullet?
Hell, even his schoolyard chums have the good mind to give him a chance (after a little hesitance):
Good to see Thanos has been wearing the same outfit all these years. Grub.
Turns out the future butcher of galaxies and wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet hasn’t always had a penchant for the maniacal and depraved. He’s just kind of… meek. And dorky acting.
Whether Aaron’s trying to help us empathize with the little guy or make his eventual spiral into villainy all the more dramatic remains to be seen — but so far it just comes off as prosaic. Like we’re being set up for some purple-skinned Anakin Skywalker.
Despite all this, one female peer in particular has taken a special interest in Thanos. The foreshadowing isn’t exactly subtle with her role, so something tells me a monkey wrench will get tossed in as soon as next issue, but she is the catalyst for some actual progression and action within this issue so for that she has my gratitude.
Yes, that’s a patchy brown puke beard crusted to little Thanos’ face. The hell did you eat, man?
Italian artist Simone Bianchi’s ink-washed style isn’t everyone’s bag but in Thanos Rising, it works. One big gripe with Bianchi’s mural-esque depictions are that they can come off a bit muddled and disproportionate, but here everything’s crisp, detailed, and impressive:
- Nice artwork.
- A little bit of set-up.
- Thanos as a kid a bit more banal than expected.
When you take a character with Thanos’ notoriety and conjure up an origin story there are bound to be letdowns; to be fair, this is only the first issue and everything is still in the nascent stage — but as it stands there’s nothing really idiosyncratic or distinctive enough to set the origin of Thanos apart from myriad other characters. In other words, slap any generic cosmic overlord into this issue, even ones who haven’t taken on the entire Marvel Universe or slain galaxies, and you wouldn’t find much out of place. Then again, some of the world’s most brutal dictators in history have started from somewhat humble, unassuming beginnings.
(I hate to invoke Godwin’s law, but young Thanos having such an interest in drawing only accentuates the allusion. Let’s just hope unlike Adolf, young Thanos gets into art school. And doesn’t spend all his time sketching his dead mother when she passes.)
Is It Good?
This issue is neither good nor bad, per se. It’s just kind of there. If you’re a fan of Thanos or interested in learning more about him, you won’t loathe it — but you’ll probably want to wait until next issue to see if anything substantial develops.