REVIEW: “Thanos Rising” #1

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Cory Thrall

WRITER:  Jason Aaron
ARTWORK:  Simone Bianchi
COLOR ARTWORK:  Simone Peruzzi
Lettering:  VC’s Clayton Cowles

‘Thanos Rising’ is a very surprising title, and one that broke my expectations wide open.  I had figured I would enjoy it, especially since the awesome Jason Aaron is on writing duties.  I found this book to be so much more than I had originally thought – so much richer in story, and a very personal one, at that.

The very telling opening of the issue – Thanos digging into the dense rubble of the homeworld he destroyed to find his Mother’s grave site – sets the scene of what the whole issue is about – Thanos and his obsession with Death, in many forms.  From there we enter what is the setting for the remainder of the first issue, Thanos growing up as a child, now in what looks like an Elementary School of sorts.  His home world is made up of citizens that are very human-like in every way we can see.  Thanos, with his odd purple skin and very different body make-up, is a somewhat shy and quiet kid that seems like he is picked on for his looks.  When students approach him, he is quick to let them know he doesn’t want any trouble, a sign that trouble is what he had expected.  This sets the mood of Thanos’ childhood – a loner that may or may not want to be alone.  An intelligent child ignored by his very important Father, and whose only person to talk to is his institutionalized Mother, who does nothing but stare teary-eyed into nothingness.  It is a very sad and dark childhood, and we are not surprised in the least to find at one point he is sketching the decaying corpse of a nearby animal.  It’s in this background that his eventual obsession with death begins, and is fostered.

A new friend is made in an oddly dressed girl at the school, and she lets on to her fellow students that Thanos is much more than he may seem.  The look in her eyes tells us she knows something important about Thanos, and she gives the impression it’s something that might turn out to be troublesome.  When she tells Thanos of a favorite set of caves that serve as a hideaway spot of hers, he leads a few students on an exploration of them.  As they are wandering about, a cave in suddenly swallows them, leaving Thanos alone, nearly buried by the stones.  Upon making his escape he finds his friends in a scene that is rather shocking, and perfectly in line with the overall theme of this origin story thus far.

Aaron’s scripting mixes so well with the artwork of Simone Bianchi and colorist Simone Peruzzi that it’s a completely perfect blend of comic art.  It’s a visually heavy comic with the writing to back it up.  The words speak as much about the scenes as the artwork does.  With the use of believable expressions and excited panel work, Bianchi’s thick lines couple with his perfectly sparse use of detail to create some amazing storytelling.  Much like the scripting, it is highly effective due to such thoughtful execution.

This first issue has me very excited for what lay ahead.  If an origin story for one of Marvel’s most cold hearted and purely evil villains can make me feel uncomfortable for emphasizing with him, even to the point of feeling sorry for him, then it is doing things right.  This book isn’t just doing things ‘right’, it’s doing it magically and with more heart than one might come close to expect from a comic titled “Thanos Rising”.  This is a wonderful character study, either way you look at it – Thanos fan or not.  It’s a beautifully crafted book that I cannot recommend enough.

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Follow Cory Thrall on Twitter: @FeralFang27

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2 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Thanos Rising” #1

  1. Great review, and I really like what you say about it really being all about Thanos’ unwavering obsession with death, even in the conceptual form. I love how he seems to be aware that he was meant to be a dead thing – he has this memory of his mother trying to kill him from birth.
    Of course, the other really interesting (and completely alienating thing for some fans) is how familiar the origin feels. As you said, Thanos is basically a nerdy loner who meets a weird girl and learns what his destiny is – it’s like the same exact story of the NOW! NOVA, which so many people thought was too cliche. But it only looks familiar on paper – Aaron spins a whole lot more out of it in execution. I didn’t know what I’d think of seeing Thanos as a kid, but I really enjoyed it.

    • Hey, thanks for the kind words and comment! I can definitely see people having an issue with his origin vs. NOVA, and actually hadn’t thought of that. It is a rather cheesy origin, isn’t it? “The Classic”! But I agree, Diggle really puts on his own hat for this, giving it a feeling of hidden dread throughout. I swear every page was colored to keep the coming ‘darkness’ in mind. Such great coloring work. I really think this is one of the only teams of creators that could have pulled this off so perfectly. And damn Aaron gets some of the most beautiful art for his book! The artwork on ‘Thor, God of Thunder’ is just breathtaking.

      I was also a it weirded out by a ‘solo’ Thanos title, but with Aaron at the helm I was hoping for exactly what I found in this. I really enjoyed it,as well, and am *really* looking forward to #2! Thanks again for saying hi! :) – Cory Thrall

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