Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Writer: Tini Howard
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
For a character as deeply rooted in Marvel history it's hard to add to an already well established mythos. There are numerous ways one can go about staining a history that’s interwoven to some of Marvel’s best story arcs and events. To give more depth into a character and his bizarre relationships (or lack thereof) isn’t easy when his obsession is literally Death and it’s embodiment. Tini Howard tears away layers of the giant purple murder onion that is Thanos.
Continuing immediately after Thanos discovers Gamora and the revelation that she too can see Death, we are given a bit more of Ebony Maw’s whispers of mutiny aboard Thanos’ space station. A dialogue between and imprisoned Gamora and Maw ends with Gamora getting the jump on him and escaping her prison cell. The rest of the Butcher Squadron regroups with Maw and the search ensues. Maw states that he wishes to find the Gamora before Thanos does to show leverage, saying “... he will know his new obsession can be taken away from him by his own underlings... and the rest of his crew will see his failing too.” The following pages put us in the middle of Thanos and Gamora’s first conversation together since their first interaction on her home world. The conversation initiates after The Magus speaks to Thanos telepathically, insisting he join The Magus’ Church or die. But the telepathic messages are interrupted by Gamora exclaiming to Thanos about the unheard sounds Magus was projecting. Another strand bonds the Titan and the child. After bravely engaging in a conversation with the Mad Titan, he begins to question her, as to how she see’s death and also the mystery of her escape. The Butcher Squadron, still aimlessly searching for the girl, is summoned by Thanos. Upon meeting with the Captain, the Squadron faces their punishment for Gamora’s escape. Before anyone cares to admit how Gamora evaded her captors, she steals a sheathed blade from a Squadron member and immediately goes on the defensive. Thanos is amused by this and for the first time (for me anyway) we see Thanos actually laughing in amusement. Yeah. Pretty unsettling. And the finale of the issue shows us that something dies even when Thanos laughs out of humor.
Okay, let’s start with Ebony Maw. He oozes the Starscream vibe. Sucking up to the Mad Titan in his presence, all the while plotting treason. Very much in contrast to Proxima Midnight. One of undying loyalty, the other a snake in the grass who knows he can’t overthrow the Titan alone. I like the way he’s written here. Young Maw, shows us exactly who he is. Rather than being a brown nosing herald to a mass murderer, Howard shows us that at one time, Ebony Maw wasn’t always a galactic conquerer’s lap dog.
From Gamora’s perspective, it’s quickly stated that she began to understand just what kind of monster Thanos is. For a 13 year-old, to be able to look Death’s Inevitably himself dead in the face and question his means of transportation while not flinching is impressive to say the least. She is the last of her people and she is a survivor through and through. Howard’s writing is giving us first glimpses at the early stages of the Deadliest Little Girl in the Galaxy.
I really got a kick out of the Butcher Squadron addressing Thanos as “Captain.” This story slightly parallels Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab in that they both are an unstoppable self-propelled force which also bares with it a sadness. His nihilistic obsession with death and becoming a God is his drive, yes, but a young Thanos with less direction seems to almost humanize him a bit.
The first 2 issues of this series have been nothing short of a great read. The art team of Olivetti and Fabela has provided us with so much emotion in THANOS. Rather than showing a stone faced Grimace with the pale glowing eyes, we see a whole range of facial expressions, even Thanos screaming in pain. The second act should be something excellent to witness. I’m sure from here we begin to see the gruesome training sessions that Thanos projects as affection will begin. Not your typical 80’s Montage kind of training neither. This is just the first few hours (or days? I don’t know how space works) of their relationship and there has literally been nothing but violence and death in it’s wake.