In June 2015, Marvel Comics and veteran writer/artist Jim Starlin will pit the Mad Titan Thanos against Annihilus in their just-announced Thanos: The Infinity Relativity.
Also caught up in the battle will be Adam Warlock and the Guardians of the Galaxy, making for a universe-spanning and potentially very expansive, explosive battle. All the while, it's building to a third act in Starlin's new Thanos trilogy (following this year's Thanos: The Infinity Revelation) that he says might be his last outing with the character.
Starlin joined ComicBook.com to discuss the series.
Obviously you've had some experience making Thanos more sympathetic/heroic in the Infinity Saga before. How will you play with that idea differently this time around?
Sympathetic but I don't think heroic, except for that short-lived Thanos series. But even then, he was intending to be heroic but not quite pulling it off.
This go-around our self-serving Mad Titan goes up against Annihilus, not for any altruistic reasons, but because Annihilus tends to make a mess of any place he invades and Thanos hates having his backyard filled with trash.
The success of Guardians of the Galaxy has put a real focus on Marvel's cosmic line at the same time they've brought you back. With your history as arguably the most successful "cosmic" writer in Marvel's history, is there some performance anxiety attached to that?
To be honest, there probably was a touch of performance anxiety with The Infinity Revelation. Didn't want to produce a limp story. But with Relativity from the start I was thoroughly back into the Thanos groove, like hanging with an old friend. There's nothing like exorcising your own demons, via a fictional character.
When you write the Infinity Watch crew here, is there somebody from your Stormwatch run you'd import if you had the chance?
An odd question but one I'd have to say, "No" to. Different company, different universe, different head. But if I brought anyone over, it'd be The Weird. He's my DC baby. As with Thanos at Marvel, it seems I always try to work him into any tale I tell over at DC.
Obviously Thanos and Annihilus have worked together in the past; what makes the Infinity Watch believe they can trust him?
Trust Annihilus? Who'd be crazy enough to do that? Other than Gladiator?
No, unlike the dubiously entitled Thanos vs The Hulk, this tale is most definitely Thanos vs Annihilus. The Negative Zone's insane bug king is out to expand his realm into the Posiverse and our favorite Mad Titan is determined to thwart that ambition, for reasons of his own.
Do you hope to explore some of the parallels between Adam and Annihilus, both of whom have died and been reborn?
Thanos can be included in that qualification and that's one of the reasons it'll be Titan vs Bug King. Multiple resurrections have made Thanos and Warlock extremely unique characters in the Marvel Universe, taken them out of the astral norm. Annihilus is nearing that same status and seeks something that will make him utterly invincible. Thanos can't see allowing that to happen, so...
That said, for a guy who's so quick to reincarnate, Annihilus is generally pretty obsessed with his mortality. Does a story that aims to "end the threat of Annihilus once and for all" really push the heroes into the corner with a mad dog?
All great characters have an underlying theme to them. Kirby said the Hulk was stupidity, the more you beat on it the stronger it becomes. Annihilus is all about fear. If he can't subjugate a character, that character has to be a threat. There's no negotiating with Annihilus. You either bow down to him or you are dead. Thanos' knees don't bend.
And does a character who fears death so much come into direct conflict with the end goals of somebody like Thanos, who literally courts it?
Oil and water. We examine the Titan's continuing relationship with Mistress Death briefly in Relativity. It plays a much bigger role in the third and final graphic novel in this Thanos series. Nevertheless I think the reader will find more than enough food for thought in the Titan's relationship with other characters in this tale, which include Adam Warlock, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator, the Silver Surfer and Pip the Troll. Other Marvel characters make brief appearances.
The politics of the cosmic Marvel Universe are always interesting to me. The Shi'ar kind of go their own way a lot of the time; is it fun as a writer to make them interact with other races?
Yes, they're the United States of outer space, their intent basically benevolent but pride sometimes mucks up the works. The Shi'ar do play a role in this tale but, like so many around Thanos, things don't go for them exactly as planned. There's going to be a lot of carnage in this story. That's what Annihilus always leaves in his wake.
Do you find that you're protective of Thanos and Adam? Certainly part of operating in the Marvel Universe is that others will have their chance to play with the toys.
Yes, that's part of the equation and one of the reasons why the third (yet to be entitled) Thanos graphic novel will probably be my last shot at the Titan. When I first came back to Marvel, to do further Thanos stories, I went back and read what the Titan had been up to while I was away. For the most part I enjoyed the tales other writers used Thanos in. Thanos Rising was fun, except for the silly iguanas. Abnett and Lanning did a nice job on the character.
Will the Thanoscopter make an appearance?
(SPOILER ALERT!!!) Our Mad Titan uses it extensively in Relativity but, I'm sad to report, it comes to a sad end near the climax of the story. Then Thanos has to go back to robbing banks to finance a new Thanoscopter.