While Marvel’s cosmic line has remained dormant for years, last summer’s secret ending to The Avengers has brought it back in a big way. Once everyone realized that the big baddie at the end of the flick wasn’t a purple Hellboy, comic aficionados could regale the newcomer’s with tales of the Mad Titan aka Thanos. While not exactly a household name, Marvel is doing everything in their power to make sure the public is up to speed with their reboot of the entire cosmic line. After last week’s excellent debut of Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s time to turn our eyes toward the untold tale of Thanos’ youth.
Thaons Rising, a five-part series by superstar writer Jason Aaron, plans to shine some light on the troubled upbringing of Thanos, growing up a mutant on a planet full of beautiful people. While many may question if emotional investment in a mass murderer is justified by this series, the fact is Jason Aaron is quite gifted at making even the most despicable characters sympathetic. Go ahead, pick any character from Scalped, and see how they hold up. Thanos Rising #1 starts off with the birth of Thanos and his mother trying to kill him right from day one, claiming the child to be a monster. Thanos then goes school and is actually accepted by his classmates as a bright and gifted student. However, after a school mate, who closely resembles Marvel’s incarnation of Death, sends Thanos and his friends on an ill-fated spelunking trip, Thanos’ path of would-be scientist takes the dark and tragic twist he was destined for.
The weight of the book rests solely upon the reader’s sympathies towards Thanos and Jason Aaron does quite a good job at that. The Thanos of old loves animals, playing with his friends, and was even going to get a girlfriend. It’s a nice change of pace from typical villain backstories, since Thanos, aside from his mother losing her mind, starts out as a completely normal child. It’s these sympathies that really add to the impact of the book, specifically the final scene. Those darned lizards had it coming.
Simone Bianchi’s unique style helps complete the package. His use of water colours during the inking process gives the characters a sort of warmth that is lacking in a lot of comics. The joy on the children’s faces as they play practically glows off the page, not to mention the heartbreaking scene between Thanos and his mother in the insane asylum. Thanos is overjoyed by the thrills of adolescents, smile beaming, and his mother merely quivers in fear of her son, tears streaming down her face. Powerful imagery brought expertly to life by the creative team.
Thanos Rising is off to an excellent start. This is a sympathetic and engaging look into the personal turmoil of one of Marvel’s greatest villains. Filled with great art, a great story, and coupled with the announcement of this summer’s Infinity featuring Thanos, it’s really just a great time to be a fan of the Mad Titan.