Friday, October 23, 2015

Comic Book review: Thanos Rising

A limited five-issue series, Thanos Rising steps back in time to the formative years of the Mad Titan. The story displays his birth, his youth, his teenage years, and the eventual murderous streak that would leave him obsessed with death – both the act and the mystical character of the same name. The art throughout is superb, highlighting bright, metallic surfaces on Thanos’ home moon of Titan, while damp caverns are displayed through rugged inking and the ruins of annihilated worlds convey a haunting air.

Thanos is born into a society that knows no war, no conflict. They are a people of science, and despite Thanos’ unusual purple skin and dark eyes, his father, Mentor, takes to him just as he would his other son, Eros. Thanos’ mother, on the other hand, is immediately horrified by the sight of her child, believing there is something very wrong within him, and attempts to kill him with a knife. She is stopped, and spends many of her years institutionalized. During this time, Thanos grows into a curious, incredibly intelligent child. He seeks to make friends with other students his age, and grows queasy at the idea of dissecting lizards for his studies – a far cry from the cosmic villain he will eventually become.

One girl in particular catches Thanos’ attention, and continues to over the years. She is, in many ways, his enabler, convincing him even at a young age to carry out acts that will result in bloodshed, beginning with a group of lizards who attacked his friends during their exploration of one of Titan’s otherwise-off-limits caves. Thanos Rising has excellent pacing throughout, as each chapter jumps ahead years at a time to the most pivotal moments of the Mad Titan’s rise to infamy. Each section slows down to highlight Thanos as a character – his motives and personality, as well as his gradual embrace of murder, first justifying it as a means to try and discover that which sets beings of higher intelligence apart from animals. But when Thanos receives no answers from his gruesome handiwork, he comes to admit that he finds murder an enjoyable task.

As an adult, Thanos leaves his legacy on many a planet, fathering children with seemingly countless females of varying races. Thanos also makes his mark by joining a crew of space pirates and daring to challenge their leader. For Thanos is not content with mere pillage and plunder – he would see worlds break before him. Thanos Rising presents compelling and appropriate justifications for how would come to earn his reputation and title as ‘The Mad Titan’. His estrangement from his father does not come to pass until the final chapter, but it bears significant weight on the narrative of Thanos Rising, as well as the many conquests Thanos will ultimately carry out. The only oversight in Thanos Rising is the decision to not incorporate Thanos’ brother Eros into his development – he is mentioned once or twice, but never makes a physical appearance, and given how well the late-story clash between Thanos and his father played out, it could have raised the quality of this story even more.

My rating: 9 (out of 10)

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