The vilest villain in all of the Marvel Universe is getting ready to take center stage this fall. Writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike Deodato will chronicle the ongoing exploits of the Mad Titan in Thanos, a new series launching as part of Marvel NOW!
Thanos was solidified as one of the most dangerous villains of the Marvel universe in the 1991 event The Infinity Gauntlet. Since then, Thanos has menaced the galaxy again in the Infinity event, creator Jim Starlin has explored the character in a trilogy of miniseries – The Infinity Revelation, The Infinity Relativity, and The Infinity Finale – and Thanos’ origins have been revealed in the Thanos Rising miniseries. Meanwhile, Thanos has become part of the mainstream pop culture lexicon as the force scheming behind-the-scenes of the Marvel cinematic universe.
But the new Marvel NOW! series is sticking with Thanos for the long haul, following his new mission as he returns to the Marvel universe post-Secret Wars with plans to reclaim his position as an entity to be feared. ComicBook.com asked Lemire and Deodato what that means for Thanos, both as a character and a series.
Since coming on board at Marvel, you’ve been writing heroes like the X-Men, Wolverine, Moon Knight, and Hawkeye. How different is it writing one of Marvel’s biggest bads instead of their mightiest heroes?
Jeff Lemire: It's completely different and completely refreshing. The main attraction to doing this book was being able to dive into the dark side and tell a totally different type of book set in the Marvel U that is from a villain’s point of view. It's forcing me to go to some new places with my writing and try new things.
What is it about Thanos that makes him so compelling a villain that he can carry his own series?
JL: First off, I loved that this is an ongoing series, not a limited series. That opens up a lot of potential to establish long-term plans for Thanos in the Marvel U.
As to what makes Thanos so compelling, the easy answer is that he is so powerful and so evil. This combination opens things up for a lot of story potential. But the truth is that it's Thanos' past that makes him so interesting. What motivates a god-like being like this? What makes him tick and what does he have left to fight for? These are compelling questions to me, and I think to the reader. But above all this series just has so much potential. Thanos can essentially become Marvel's Darth Vader...its alpha villain.
Michael Deodato: I think he is one of the most enigmatic and scariest characters of the Marvel Universe. He is our Darth Vader.
What is Thanos’ mission statement in this new series? His attempt to capture the cosmic cube on Earth was foiled. Is he planning a second attempt?
JL: I'm not spoiling that because Thanos' mission comes as a big reveal in issue 1. I will say that the cosmic cube is NOT involved. And there will be a very solid supporting cast in this series. A regular set of underused characters that will become very important to the series and to Thanos himself. Starfox, Nebula, and Thane will play key roles. And there are a few surprises as well.
I’ve dived pretty deep into Thanos’ publishing history to draw inspiration for the series. Of course, it all starts with Jim Starlin, but I’ve also drawn from Keith Giffen’s run on Thanos as well as Jason Aaron’s Thanos Rising and the work Jonathan Hickman did in Infinity and elsewhere. I also took a good long look at Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader series as a template for what could be done with an ongoing villain series.
We saw Thanos’ return to the Marvel universe in the pages of The Ultimates, but he seems to have come back changed. Somehow he seems even more nihilistic than before. How does this manifest in his mission and his methods?
JL: All I can say is that this time around, Thanos has nothing to lose.
Without giving away too much, what can you say about Mistress Death's response to Thanos's return?
JL: Death will play a key role in the series, but in a way that we have not seen before. Her relationship and connection to Thanos has changed since we saw her last and this will affect Thanos and many others.
What role will Thanos’ extended family play in the series? Not just Thane, but other Eternals? Will the Black Order have a role to play?
JL: We will see some of The Black Order. But their allegiance to Thanos may not be what it once was.
Thanos’ extended family will be central in the supporting cast. Starfox and Thane have major roles, as does Nebula. Starfox, in particular, has become really interesting to me. He’s such an underrated and underused character. He is Thanos’ brother and in many ways Thanos’ opposite. To me, this makes him a really central character in what I want to do. I’d like to shed new light on Starfox, add new depths to him and peel back that fun-loving surface layer and see what else is going on there. I think he is a pretty complex character.
What makes Mike Deodato the right artist for a Thanos series? What is the visual tone you're looking to achieve with the series?
JL: Mike brings big, bold cinematic storytelling with an edge of darkness to it. As we saw with his work on Vader Down and Infinity, He is perfect for this series and the tone I want to strike. Very excited to be working with Mike! I had more fun writing issue 1 than I have writing anything in a long time. It is very fun to be very bad.
MD: I love drawing villains. Dark Avengers and Thunderbolts are two of my biggest hits. I intend to bring the same level of darkness and evil in this new series.