Thanos’ popularity has went stratospheric since the release of Infinity War. Often lauded as one of comic books greatest villains the character has risen to the ranks of The Joker, Hannibal Lector and more. Capitalising on this surge in awareness is Thanos Rising. Telling the tale of the characters origin story, this graphic novel sets to discover the birth and rise to power of the character.
I’m really excited (as I’m guessing most are) to learn of the character’s backstory, however, prequels can often disappoint and this has the potential to either seal the villain as one of the greatest or derail his reputation as a threat and menace.
Throughout this review, I will be discussing whether fans of Infinity War should pick this up or, leave the characters origins to their imagination. There will be heavy spoilers so I highly recommend that you skip to the final score and read the book for yourself if you want to remain unspoiled.
With that out the way let’s dive into Thanos Rising!
We join Thanos at his birth and journey with him through his adolescence as he transforms into The Mad Titan. Bullied because of his appearance and excluded from most things he has an unhappy childhood. It’s a sympathetic take on the character that may even devalue him for some readers, however, it was necessary to paint his backstory with some tragedy in order to give motive to his madness.
In all honesty, I found it quite jarring and a bit untrue to my vision of him. The closest similarity I could draw is Darth Vader. I remember seeing the incredibly powerful Sith Lord, devolve into a whiny spoilt Teenager in the Star Wars Prequels and it massively devalued the character. The same is true here and many may whince when seeing Thanos as young child constantly on the brink of tears for the majority of the opener.
On the brink of madness
Luckily this aesthetic doesn’t last too long and after a tragic accident during his childhood, Thanos is forced to transform into the Titan that we know and love.
On a quest to discover why he is so different, his bloodlust knows no bounds. Tearing animals, monsters and even his fellow students apart, the second chapter is awash with sadistic torture and dissections all in the name of knowledge. I loved this twist in the book and those fascinated with the macabre will lap it up.
There are real-world allusions that can be drawn up next to serial killers such as Jeffrey Dhamer, Ted Bundy and more which grounds it heavily. The psychological aspect that becomes intertwined with each killing is phenomenal and it’s gripping to watch Thanos journey down this dark path. This elevates the book and will make readers either gravitate towards Thanos or be completely repulsed by him which is an accomplishment that shows the complexity of his characterisation. It’s a difficult balancing act but one that the creative team excels at and it more than makes up for the troublesome opener.
Murdering his Mother
After murdering his own mother, Thanos himself becomes a father. The horrendous deed definitely changes the character and develops him in several ways that slowly carve out his views on the Galaxy. Resisting the urge to kill he tries to lead a normal life. Unfortunately, he quickly becomes bored with all the death that surrounds him and finds himself detached from reality as he has disabled himself from taking part in the horrific deeds.
There are similarities between Thanos and Doctor Manhattan and Thanos’ almost God-like persona and detachment is fascinating to watch much in the same way that the Doc’s is in The Watchmen. Of course, the two are psychologically polar opposites but those who find the almighty powerful incredible to behold will find this book fascinating.
At Deaths Door
One of the most notable aspects of Thanos has always been his fascination with Lady Death. It’s a subject that can either come across as incredible or corny and for every great story containing their romance, there is an equally bad one. I’m pleased to say that this book handles the matter very well and leaves the love story with a level of ambiguity that allows you to draw your own conclusions on whether she is real or a figment of Thanos’ imagination.
In the end the book presents Thanos with a choice on a personal level and it’s the perfect cliff note to end the story on. Alone once more he journeys off into the cosmos to find the meaning to everything.
After getting off to a rocky start, Thanos Rising finds its footing and presents the reader with an incredible story. Action packed, filled with drama and gripping throughout, the graphic novel provides a personal story and adds a level of intrigue to one of Comic’s most enthralling villains.
I had a blast with this book and highly recommend it to those seeking stories on the Mad Titan’s Origin. It doesn’t disappoint and because of this gets a great…