The Mad Titan returns in his own solo title from Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato. Some have worried that focusing on Thanos to closely will ruin his mystique. Can Thanos #1 work? Is it good?
Thanos #1 (Marvel Comics)
A character like Thanos needs a talented artist who can portray him as the imposing figure he should be and Mike Deodato’s artwork is absolutely amazing this issue. Deodato’s insanely detaled line art helps to capture a sci-fi feel as the high-tech designs feel absolutely three-dimensional. The use of shadows and blacks give Thanos #1 a moody feel, the dark lines giving a real sense of weight to everything that happens. Deodato’s layouts also create the tone of the issue, the use of negative space and single images sliced into multiple panels creates a cold feel to the page, capturing both the scale of the events in the issue as well as the relative intimacy of them.
As with Deodato’s illustration, Frank Martin’s colors are beautiful. There’s a heavy use of red this issue which pairs nicely with Deodato’s use of blacks. Given that this is a villain’s book, the combination of black and red should come as no surprise, but it feels particularly well used here, considering how literal the intertwining of Thanos and death is. There are very few flashes of light or vibrant colors here, but when Martin does use them, they have an icy feel, making sure that there’s never a sense of warmth in the issue.
The most dangerous game of hide-and-seek ever.
Jeff Lemire’s script does a fantastic job balancing out a sense of cosmic scale while still maintaining immediacy. When dealing with villains, one runs the risk of becoming too close to the villain, getting into a headspace that destroys the character’s mystique and gives little in return. Jeff Lemire largely avoids this pitfall by utilizing third-person narration in his captions. This keeps Thanos and the rest of the cast at a distance, allowing them to interact with one another with the reader being privy to little knowledge beyond what they say or do. This lack of intimacy works well with the artwork’s cold look, solidifying the book’s deadly atmosphere.
The book does suffer from a minor issue, though. With a small cast of Thanos, Corvus Glaive, Starfox, Death and a few others that I won’t spoil, the issue doesn’t have much of a plot beyond establishing the conflict at hand. There are very few character developments beyond Corvus attempting a power grab in Thanos’ absence. It’s not a huge deterrent, but the issue’s plot never gets out of the “introductory” stage.
Is It Good?
Solid scripting by Jeff Lemire along with gorgeous artwork by Mike Deodato and Frank Martin make Thanos #1 fantastic to read. The stylized narration helps to keep readers in the world and establishes the stakes for the reader. It will be interesting to see if this distance will continue to keep readers engaged as this cosmic conflict escalates. While it suffers some of the same flaws as most introductory issues, Thanos #1 is a stellar debut worth a look from anyone with even a slight interest in the character.