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Comic Review: Thanos Rising #1

Marvel NOW! Thanos Rising #1 cover by Simone Bianchi

Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi give big baddie Thanos the Star Wars prequel treatment with Thanos Rising #1 as they take him back to his childhood and begin to chart his turn from innocent outsider to world destroyer.

But don’t let the Anakin Skywalker comparison scare you: Aaron has more tact than George Lucas, and while he doesn’t knock it out of the park at any point, Aaaron sets up a decent foundation on which to build Thanos’ backstory.

Aaron and Bianchi take the adult Thanos back to the barren moon of Titan to contemplate his childhood among the ruins of the civilization where he grew up. That civilization was the first to fall to Thanos, and this series promises to tell us how it happened.

Cue the origin: a flashback to the birth of Thanos, a purple mutant born to an insane mother and a coldly clinical scientist father.

Needless to say, the mutant Thanos has some troubles growing up in this idyllic society, though he’s not ostracized as much as one might expect.

Young Thanos is a smart kid with an affinity for drawing, an interest in lizards and a well-earned aversion to knives. He seems like a good, sane kid, but Aaron sows the seeds for it all to go bad.

The story is a little light on the foreboding of what Thanos will become up until a traumatic event at the end that sets the tone for where this comic will go. Until that point, however, Thanos doesn’t do much to earn audience sympathy. He’s neither mean nor kind; neither downtrodden nor brash. He’s smart, he cares for his parents – despite their issues – and he is friendly to others. He’s just a kid, and only toward the end does he start to earn the fear of his fellow Titans.

In fact, the most interesting character here is not Thanos; it’s Cythera, a creepy, dark girl who prods Thanos in all the wrong ways.

Simone Bianchi’s art is strong in itself, but struggles with how it panels things. The shots are at times too close, too cramped, or too far back, making the faces difficult to discern. Thanos is, of course, the exception, but only because he’s the only purple face in a sea of white ones. Bianchi gets right up in people’s faces or way back so you can’t see them, and both make it difficult to tell what the differences are between a human and a Titan.

Thanos Rising #1 feels like it’s going to run out of runway pretty quickly. Jason Aaron has a definite direction for his child-to-tyrant story, but it still left me asking why this story needs to be told. Thanos is a big bad villain, so why do we need to have sympathy for him?

Thanos Rising #1 promises to be a typical good boy turned bad man story. It’s well-written and decently-drawn, but it certainly doesn’t reach for the stars or challenge preconceptions about the character.

7 out of 10

  1. April 4, 2013 at 1:32 am

    Not to nitpick, but I believe this is solicited as a five issue miniseries. Great review, though!

    • April 4, 2013 at 6:42 am

      That’s good to hear! I didn’t see it marked on the cover like I’ve seen with other series, but that makes total sense.

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