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Thanos
Thanos.png
Promotional art by Jim Starlin for Thanos #4 (March 2004)
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance Iron Man #55 (Feb. 1973)
Created by Jim Starlin
In-story information
Species Eternal Mutant
Place of origin Titan
Team affiliations Infinity Watch
Secret Defenders
Annihilation Wave
Notable aliases The Mad Titan
Abilities Superhuman strength, stamina, durability, longevity and intelligence
Energy and matter manipulation
Telekinesis
Teleportation

Thanos is a fictional character that appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in Iron Man #55 (Feb. 1973) and was created by writer-artist Jim Starlin. The character's name is a derivation of Thanatos, the personification of death and mortality in Greek mythology.[citation needed]

Debuting in the Bronze Age of comic books, the character has featured in over three decades of Marvel continuity and a self-titled series. Thanos has also been featured in other Marvel-endorsed products including animated television series; arcade and video games; toys and trading cards.

Contents

Character and publication history

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Origin

Writer-artist Jim Starlin originally conceived Thanos of Titan during college psychology classes. As Starlin described:

I went to college between doing U.S. military service and getting work in comics, and there was a psych class and I came up with Thanos ... and Drax the Destroyer, but I'm not sure how he fit into it, just anger management probably. So I came up to Marvel and [editor] Roy [Thomas] asked if I wanted to do an issue of Iron Man. I felt that this may be my only chance ever to do a character, not having the confidence that my career was going to last anything longer than a few weeks. So they got jammed into it. Thanos was a much thinner character and Roy suggested beefing him up, so he's beefed up quite a bit from his original sketches ... and later on I liked beefing him up so much that he continued to grow in size.[1]

The origin story of Thanos relates that he was born on Titan, a moon of the planet Saturn, to Mentor and Sui-San. Due to a genetic quirk, Thanos is born with the Deviant gene and as such resembles the Deviants — the Eternals' cousin race — more than his own people. Although treated fairly by his race, Thanos is mindful of his appearance and becomes distant, only keeping company with his brother Eros (Starfox). Thanos matures to adulthood, and via the use of bionics and mysticism augments his abilities to become the most powerful of the Titanian-born Eternals, and is often referred to as the Mad Titan.[2] Writer Starlin added another player to convey the gravity of Thanos' threat: Death itself, in the form of "Mistress" Death is drawn by the level of the character's obsession. Bitter at being an outsider, Thanos becomes fascinated with nihilism and a worshipper of Death, embarking on his quest to "please" death, and begins by conducting a nuclear bombardment of Titan that kills millions of his race (Thanos' mother is thought to have died during the bombardment, but it is discovered that he kidnaps and then dissects her.[3]) The character travels to Earth, and prior to landing his vessel destroys a nearby car to prevent anyone from becoming aware of his existence. Unknown to Thanos, two of the family members in the vehicle survive — the father's spirit is preserved by the Titanian cosmic entity Chronos and is given a new form as Drax the Destroyer while the daughter is found by Thanos' father Mentor and is raised to become the heroine Moondragon.

Development

The character first appears in Iron Man #55 (Feb. 1973), and is established as a "cosmic villain". Thanos forms a plan that spans multiple titles, including Captain Marvel #25–33 (bi-monthly: Mar. 1972 - July 1974), with cameo appearances in Daredevil #107 (Jan. 1974) and Avengers #125 (July 1974) and a one-shot story in Logan's Run #6 (June 1977). Wishing to conquer the galaxy, the character builds a base on Earth, constructs a space vessel that acts as a "universal translator" for his huge army of alien mercenaries, and begins an obsessive quest for an item called the Cosmic Cube, which can make wishes a reality. Thanos eventually locates the Cube, and wills it to becomes omnipotent and easily defeats Earth's heroes, but makes the mistake of discarding what he believes to be a now-drained Cube. Captain Marvel shatters the Cube, which undoes Thanos' wish. Thanos then discovers that Death has abandoned him as result of his defeat, and retreats.[4]

Thanos battles Spider-Man and the Thing on the cover of Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 (1977). Art by Jim Starlin.

Thanos reappears to join forces with the hero Adam Warlock and defeat the Magus, a warped and future version of the hero Adam Warlock.[5] It is during this alliance Thanos secretly siphons off the energies of the Soul Gem that Warlock possesses for future use.[6] Thanos combines the energies from the Soul Gem with the energies of the other Infinity Gems to power a weapon capable of destroying a star. Thanos battles Earth's superheroes and kills Adam Warlock. The story arc ends with the Soul Gem, releasing the spirit of Adam Warlock, whose spirit subsequently turns Thanos's body to stone.[7] Thanos's spirit appears to accompany Captain Marvel's soul into the realm of Death.[8]

Starlin resurrected Thanos in Silver Surfer vol. 3, #34 (Feb. 1990). The revived Thanos decides to collect the Infinity Gems, in a two-issue miniseries, The Thanos Quest (1990), which he takes from the In-Betweener and the Elders of the Universe. Thanos then combines the gems on his left glove to create the Infinity Gauntlet, which makes him omnipotent and allows him to exceed the power he once possessed with the Cosmic Cube.[9] It is followed by a series of annual company-wide crossovers featuring Thanos, anchored by the limited series Infinity Gauntlet, in which Thanos erases half the population of the universe, hoping to win the heart of Death. Earth's superheroes and cosmic entities confront him but Thanos easily defeats them. The conflict is resolved when Thanos loses the Gauntlet to Adam Warlock, and the villain escapes by faking his own death.[10]

Thanos wearing the Infinity Gauntlet on the cover of the Infinity Gauntlet collected edition (Aug, 1992).
Art by George Pérez.

Warlock eventually divides up the Infinity Gems and creates the Infinity Watch to guard them. Thanos is entrusted by Warlock with the reality gem in secret, with even the other members of the Watch not knowing who their sixth member is. Thanos then assists Adam Warlock and Earth's superheroes against the Magus and the Goddess — the evil and good personas of Warlock, who expunged them to become omnipotent when possessing the Infinity Gauntlet.[11]

After fighting Thor, now strengthened by the Power Gem, in single combat, Thanos uses an invention to imprison him, and takes Thor to Asgard, home of the Norse Gods. Once in Asgard Thanos, Drax, and the Silver Surfer engage Thor's father Odin in battle, but are overpowered. Odin discovers he is indirectly responsible for Thor's insanity, and aids Thor in curing himself.[12]

Thanos next recruits a team of Earth-bound super-villains and puts them under the field leadership of Geatar (who usually serves as consort to Thanos's grand-daughter Nebula) in a mission to extract a robot containing the knowledge of a universal library. Thanos afterwards battles a new extraterrestrial threat — Tyrant, a failed creation of Galactus.[13], whom he learns of from the library robot's database.

Thanos is revealed to be trapped in an alternate dimension and employs the aid of the brother of Ka-Zar, Parnival Plunder, to attempt escape, planning to control all vegetation and cause universal havoc.[14] A year later Thanos is still trapped, and attempts to use the Hulk as a physical anchor back to the Earth-616 universe but is defeated by the Hulk and the mutant X-Man.[15] Thanos eventually reappears, having escaped the alternate dimension, and seeking the Chalice of Ruins, Map of All-Ending, and Illumination Stone, which when united will enable the user to destroy the universe. Thanos enlists the aid of the Asgardian monster Mangog and the traitor Tarakis, and storms Asgard and ravages entire worlds hunting for the artifacts. Just as Thanos unites the items and realizes his goal, Thor dons Asgardian armor which allows him to match Thanos' new power levels and defeats the Titan.[16]

Thanos then uses the heroes Thor and Genis-Vell (Captain Marvel's son) against the death god Walker, who attempts to woo Mistress Death and then destroy the entity after being rejected.[17] Thanos then devises a plan to become the All-Father of a new race of Gods created by himself. Thanos, however, finds himself opposed by the Avengers, former member Mantis, and her son Quoi, apparently destined to be the Celestial Messiah. Thanos abandons this plan after having to unite with Mistress Death to destroy the Rot, an aberration in deep space that is apparently their offspring.[18] Thanos once conducted extensive research on genetics, and after studying many of the universe's heroes and villains cloned them and gene-spliced his own DNA into the subjects. Although he later abandons the project, five clones survive, being versions of Professor X, Iron Man, Gladiator, Doctor Strange, and Galactus respectively. A sixth and unnamed version of Thanos also appears, and it is revealed the incarnations of Thanos encountered by Thor and Ka-Zar were his clones. The true Thanos — with the aid of Adam Warlock, Gamora, Pip the Troll, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and Dr. Strange — destroys the remaining clones.[19]

When an ancient Egyptian pharoh stumbles upon a source of cosmic power tied into the dawn and end of time and subsequently returns to Earth centuries later, Thanos recruits the Defenders to seek out the source of the pharoh's power and eventually wrests control of it from him. Thanos uses the power to fix any damage done by the Pharoh (which had included the deaths of most of Earth's major hero teams such as the X-men, Avengers and Fantastic Four) and then once again gives up his physical form to take control of the universe. Adam Warlock convinces Thanos to voluntarily relinquish the power, but as a result of its origins with the dawn and end of time, Thanos emerges having experienced the entire history of the universe and claims he will no longer seek universal conquest.[20]

Thanos next decides to atone for some of his deeds in the Thor-Mangog affair, and agrees to aid a colony of Rigellians in evacuating their planet before Galactus can consume it. During the course of this mission Thanos learns Galactus is collecting the Infinity Gems in an effort to end his universal hunger. Thanos later learns Galactus is being manipulated by a comsic threat known as Hunger which feeds on entire universes into freeing it. Thanos unsuccessfully battles Galactus in an effort to stop him from the entity, but when Hunger emerges the two team up to defeat it.[21]

Thanos next journeys to the Kyln, an intergalactic prison at the site of the Crunch—described as the place where the Big Bang formed the universe. On his way there he meets Death—this time in the form of a female child, who for the first time in their long history agrees to speak directly with Thanos and tells him she is worth his efforts to woo but that he must offer her something other than death (such as he had the two times he possessed the infinity gems) as she has all the death she needs. At the Kyln he meets Star Lord and the Shi'ar warrior Gladiator. He then encounters the Beyonder, now using the alias the Maker, who has been rendered amnesiac by his/her choice to assume a mortal female form. Thanos alludes to an undefined prior history with the Beyonder (all the more odd since Thanos was dead during any of the prior storylines in which the Beyonder was active in the Marvel Universe). Thanos battles the Beyonder and causes her mind to shut down leaving her power trapped within a comatose mortal body, which he instructs the Kyln officers to keep on life support indefinitely in order to prevent the Beyonder from once again being reborn.[22]

Thanos then departs the Kyln in the company of a chaos-mite named Skreet that he frees from the prison in a quest to seek the Fallen—an entity he learned of from Star Lord—whom was the previously unknown first herald of Galactus and whom was eventually exiled by Galactus after he became genocidal. Thanos resurrects the entity who promptly seeks revenge on Galactus, however Galactus allows Thanos to deal with his ex-herald and Thanos eventually defeats the Fallen and places him under his complete mental control as his own herald.[23]

Thanos has a pivotal role in the Annihilation Wave storyline, where he allies himself with the genocidal villain Annihilus. His involvement begins when Death advises him that Annihilus plans "something wonderful" for the universe and bids him to seek him out. When the Annihilation Wave destroys the Kyln, Thanos sends the Fallen to check on the status of the Beyonder, whose mortal form he finds has perished. Before the Fallen can report back to Thanos it encounters Tenebrous and Aegis — two of Galactus' ancient enemies who recognize Galactus's mark on the former herald. Thanos then recovers his herald and in the process convinces Tenebrous and Aegis to join the Annihilation Wave in order to get revenge on Galactus, and they subsequently defeat the World Devourer and the Silver Surfer. Annihilus desires the secret of the Power Cosmic and asks Thanos to study Galactus, but once Thanos learns of Annihilus' true goal (to use the Power Cosmic to destroy all life and remain the sole survivor) he decides to free Galactus. Drax the Destroyer, however, appears and kills Thanos before he can do so.[24] During a climactic battle with Annihilus, the hero Nova is near death and sees Thanos — now standing with Mistress Death as her apparent consort — observing him.[25]

April 2010 Solicitations from Marvel have revealed that Thanos will return in Guardians of the Galaxy #25.[26] His return will coincide with a major storyline, "The Thanos Imperative", beginning in May 2010 and written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.[27][28]

Powers and abilities

Thanos is a mutant member of the race of superhumans known as the Titanian Eternals. The character possesses abilities common to the Eternals, such as superhuman strength, stamina and durability, which have been augmented via bionic amplification, mysticism, and the entity Death. Thanos is also able to manipulate and project cosmic energy; matter manipulation; telekinesis and limited telepathy, and courtesy of advanced technology is capable of force field projection; time travel, movement through alternate universes and teleportation over interstellar distances. Thanos is also a master strategist and utitlizes a space vessel called starship Sanctuary II as a base of operations.

Other versions

In the alternate universe limited series Earth X, Thanos dwells in the Realm of the Dead with the entity Death.[29]

Thanos features in the limited series Marvel Zombies 2, set in the alternate universe of Earth-2149. Having been "zombified", the character is killed by the Hulk after an altercation over food.[30]

The Ultimate Marvel imprint title Ultimate Fantastic Four features an alternate universe version of Thanos who is the ruler of Acheron, a vast empire consisting of thousands of worlds that exist in another plane of existence.[31]

In other media

Thanos features in the animated television series Silver Surfer (1998) voiced by Gary Krawford and the The Super Hero Squad Show (2009) voiced by Steve Blum.

The character appears in the video games Marvel Super Heroes (1995); War of the Gems (1996); Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000) and is briefly mentioned in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006).

Toy Biz; Diamond Select Toys; Bowen Designs and Eaglemoss have also released mini-busts and statues of the character.

Thanos is included as a collectible figure from the board game Heroscape featured in the Marvel crossover set.

Collected editions

A number of the stories featuring Thanos have been collected into trade paperbacks:

  • The Life of Captain Marvel (collects Iron Man #55, Captain Marvel #25-34, and Marvel Feature #12, 1991, ISBN 087135635X)
  • Essential Avengers: Volume 6 (includes Captain Marvel #33 and The Avengers #125 and 135, 576 pages, February 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3058-6)
  • The Greatest Battles of the Avengers (includes Avengers Annual #7, 156 pages, December 1993, ISBN 0871359812)
  • Essential Marvel Two-in-One: Volume 2 (includes Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2, 568 pages, July 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2698-8)
  • Marvel Masterworks Warlock: Volume 2 (includes Warlock (vol. 1) #9-11, 15, Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2, hardcover, 320 pages, June 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3511-1)
  • Silver Surfer: Rebirth Of Thanos (collects Silver Surfer #34-38, The Thanos Quest miniseries, and "The Final Flower!" from Logan's Run #6, 224 pages, softcover, April 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2046-7, hardcover, August 2010, ISBN 0-7851-4478-1)
  • Infinity Gauntlet (collects Infinity Gauntlet limited series, 256 pages, March 2000, ISBN 0871359448, December 2004, ISBN 0-7851-0892-0, July 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2349-0, hardcover, August 2010, ISBN 0-7851-4549-4)
  • Infinity War (collects Infinity War limited series, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #7-10, and Marvel Comics Presents #108-111, 400 pages, April 2006, ISBN 0-7851-2105-6)
  • Infinity Crusade:
    • Volume 1 (collects Infinity Crusade #1-3, Warlock Chronicles #1-3, and Warlock and the Infinity Watch #18-19, 248 pages, December 2008, ISBN 0-7851-3127-2)
    • Volume 2 (collects Infinity Crusade #4-6, Warlock Chronicles #4-5, and Warlock and the Infinity Watch #20-22, 248 pages, February 2009, ISBN 0-7851-3128-0)
  • Infinity Abyss (collects Infinity Abyss limited series, 176 pages, 2003, ISBN 0-7851-0985-4)
  • Thanos: The End (collects Marvel: The End limited series, 160 pages, May 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1116-6)
  • Thanos:
    • Epiphany (collects Thanos #1-6, 144 pages, June 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1355-X)
    • Samaritan (collects Thanos #7-12, 144 pages, October 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1540-4)
  • Annihilation:
    • Volume 1 (collects Drax the Destroyer miniseries, "Annihilation: Prologue" one-shot and Annihilation: Nova miniseries, 256 pages, hardcover, March 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2511-6, softcover, October 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2901-4)
    • Volume 2 (collects Annihilation: Ronan miniseries, Annihilation: Silver Surfer miniseries and Annihilation: Super-Skrull miniseries, 320 pages, hardcover, May 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2512-4, softcover, November 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2902-2)
    • Volume 3 (collects "Annihilation: The Nova Corps Files" one-shot/handbook, Annihilation limited series and Annihilation: Heralds Of Galactus miniseries, 304 pages, hardcover, July 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2513-2, softcover, December 2007, ISBN 0-7851-2903-0)

Footnotes

  1. ^ Adelaide Comics and Books: Jim Starlin interview
  2. ^ Avengers Annual #7 (1977)
  3. ^ Silver Surfer vol. 3, #67 (July 1992)
  4. ^ Captain Marvel #33 (July 1974)
  5. ^ Strange Tales #178–181 (Feb. - Aug 1975) + Warlock #9 -11 (Oct. 1975 - Jan. 1976)
  6. ^ Mentioned in Avengers Annual #7 (1977)
  7. ^ Avengers Annual #7 + Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2 (1977)
  8. ^ Death of Captain Marvel Graphic Novel
  9. ^ The Thanos Quest #1 - 2 (1990)
  10. ^ The Infinity Gauntlet #1 - 6 (Jul. - Dec. 1991)
  11. ^ The Infinity War #1 - 6 (1992) + The Infinity Crusade #1 - 6 (June - Nov. 1993)
  12. ^ Thor' #470 & 471 (Jan. - Feb 1994); Silver Surfer vol. 3, #88 (Jan. 1994); Warlock Chronicles #8 (Feb. 1994) and Warlock and the Infinity Watch #25 (Feb. 1994)
  13. ^ Cosmic Powers #1–6 (1994)
  14. ^ Ka-Zar vol. 2, #4–10 + Annual 1997
  15. ^ X-Man and Hulk Annual 1998
  16. ^ Thor vol. 2, #21–25 (Mar. - July) + Thor Annual 2000
  17. ^ Captain Marvel vol. 2, #17–19 (Jun - Aug. 2001)
  18. ^ Avengers: Celestial Quest #1–8 (2001–2002)
  19. ^ The Infinity Abyss # 1–6 (2002)
  20. ^ "Marvel : The End" 1-6
  21. ^ Thanos 1-6
  22. ^ Thanos 7-9
  23. ^ Thanos 10-12
  24. ^ Annihilation #4 (2006)
  25. ^ Annihilation #6 (2007)
  26. ^ http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=24463
  27. ^ Beard, Jim (February 12, 2010). "EXCLUSIVE: The Thanos Imperative". Marvel.com. http://marvel.com/news/comicstories.11310.exclusive~colon~_the_thanos_imperative. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  28. ^ McGloin, Matt & Brewer, Byron (February 23, 2010). "DnA Crank Things Up: The Thanos Imperative: Ignition". Cosmic Book News. http://cosmicbooknews.com/articles/dnat_int/. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  29. ^ Earth X #0 - #13 (March 1999 - June 2000)
  30. ^ Marvel Zombies 2 #1 (Dec. 2007 - April 2008)
  31. ^ Ultimate Fantastic Four #35 (Dec. 2006)

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Thanos is a fictional character that appears in Marvel Comics publications. The character's name is a derivation of Thanatos, the personification of death and mortality in Greek mythology. Thanos first appears in Iron Man #55 (vol. 1, Feb. 1973) and was created by Jim Starlin.

  • "I now hold omnipotence. What should I do with such almighty power? The answer to that is actually quite simple: Anything I want. Anything. I am incapable of error. Any result that displeases me I can simply reverse. There is nothing I need to worry on, for I am Thanos. And Thanos is supreme. Supreme."
  • "Am I not Thanos?! Did I not butcher the woman who gave me birth, who force-fed me into this hell called life?! Is not the wake of my passing crimson with the blood of my enemies and allies alike?! Death is with me every second of the day! My every moment is spent in either dealing out death or worshipping it! So tell me, who under the stars is better suited than I to be Death's consort?"
  • "You address omnipotence. Tread carefully."
  • "Truth is a subjective concept."
  • "Destiny awaits." (from Marvel Super Heroes arcade game)
  • "Who would have thought that becoming God would be such a hollow victory" -Thanos Quest Book 2
  • "My name is Thanos, and my name means Death" Thanos Quest Book 1
  • "Let the heavens run red with blood, but in the end as always Thanos stands triumphant." (Silver suffer issue 26)

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