After an intense battle with the Shi’ar Imperial Guard, Thanos takes a break as writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike Deodato turn their creative attention to Thane. Can they make a compelling story for the son of the Mad Titan? Is it good?
Thanos #4 (Marvel Comics)
Let’s get this part out of the way first: Thanos doesn’t appear in issue four. Yes, he’s technically in a single panel, but he doesn’t really have a physical presence in the book. That being said, his purple fingerprints are all over the narrative here.
Thanos #4 begins eight months prior to the present day, and follows Thane across that eight month span where he begins to plot to murder his father. The issue opens as Thane and Ebony Maw are confronted by Corvus Glaive. The battle that ensues is small but intense. For readers who followed the Black Order through the pages of Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity, it’s nice to see the schemes of Maw catch up to him as Corvus takes glee in punishing his former brother.
In the aftermath of the battle, Thane is taken as Corvus’ prisoner, and it is here that Thanos #4 builds its characters. While fellow prisoner, Tryco Slatterus, gets some page time, it serves mostly as a way of conveying who this character is for readers who aren’t as knowledgeable of Marvel’s cosmic pantheon. For Thane, however, writer Jeff Lemire crafts a new path forward. While Thane’s past motivations have largely been tied to his father and the manipulation of Maw, his quest here is given a new oedipal slant that fits perfectly with the operatic tone that has filled Thanos thus far.
Mike Deodato and Frank Martin. What more needs to be said about the artwork on this book? It has been spectacular throughout the run, and that excellence continues here. An interesting storytelling choice is made when Thane is in solitary confinement, as Deodato shows the sequence in a double-page spread. Normally these spreads are reserved for action sequences, with Frank Martin’s colors bursting off the page (see the aforementioned fight between Corvus and Maw). But here the vast canvas highlights Thane’s isolation and growing desperation. It’s a clever change of visual pace from the grids that Deodato uses in the rest of the issue.
Is It Good?
Though the titular character barely makes an appearance, Thanos #4 continues the series’ winning streak. By having the Mad Titan absent, writer Jeff Lemire gives himself the narrative space to carve a new way for Thane to progress as a character, while tying the son back to his father. Mike Deodato and Frank Martin keep the book an intense visual masterpiece. Thanos #4 is a depraved space-opera, and one of the best books on the stands.