Sketch Variant Cover: Thanos Falling?

I really enjoyed the artwork on this.  also, the art in the interior.  The story...?  Hmmm.

I really enjoyed the artwork on this. also, the art in the interior. The story…? Hmmm.

Thanos is the heavy that is teased in the tag at the end of the Avengers movie. You know, about the same time as the awesome Shawarma scene. Non Marvelites have trouble getting a handle on who Thanos is. I first encountered the character in the “Life of Captain Marvel” TPB, where he is attempting to gain control of the Cosmic Cube, and thus, Universal Dominance. We’ve already seen a Cosmic Cube in Marvel films, so it is a pretty logical move.

I can’t really express how much I loved those old Starlin Captain Marvel stories. Surreal, seventies cosmic work, where jim Starlin was really at the top of his craft. Thanos’ first appearance was in an extended storyline that spanned Iron Man #55 (Feb. 1973), Captain Marvel #25-33 (bi-monthly: March 1973 – Jan. 1974), Marvel Feature #12 (Nov. 1973), Daredevil #107 (Jan. 1974), and Avengers #125 (July 1974). Groovy stuff.

The character was later revived in the Silver Surfer series in 1990….which was also awesome. That was pretty much the inspiration for the art above, and the no colored version below. The Silver Surfer reintroduction led to the Infinity Gauntlet, which involved a superweapon that made the Cosmic Cube look like a tinkertoy. Since then, Thanos has been the A-List Cosmic Supervillian over at Marvel.

Nice, cosmic looking stuff.  A part of me wanted to include a speech balloon saying, "Surf's Up, Broseph!"

Nice, cosmic looking stuff. A part of me wanted to include a speech balloon saying, “Surf’s Up, Broseph!”

What’s this guy’s motivation? Good question. See, he loves Death…like, th incarnation of Death. Hence, he really wants to commit incredible scale, cosmic murder to impress his girlfriend. That’s pretty much the size of it. He begins with the Nuclear Bombardmnt of his own race on the moon of Saturn called Titan. After that, which was apparently small potatoes, Cosmic Cubes and the Infinity Gems are the key, to cause holocausts on Galaxy wide scales.

Let’s look at a page of that Old School Nineteen Seventies Cosmic Coolness, shall we?

So over the top, and it never forgets to be fun.  Darth Vader's dysfunctional relationship?  Amateur night, people.  Amateur night.

So over the top, and it never forgets to be fun. Darth Vader’s dysfunctional relationship? Amateur night, people. Amateur night.


How cosmic has he been lately? Lets check a summation of the “Samaritan” storyline from his recent series:

“En route to the Kyln, an intergalactic prison, Thanos meets Death, who for the first time speaks to the Titan. Death claims it is worth wooing, but that he must offer something other than death. At the Kyln Thanos encounters Star-Lord and the Shi’ar warrior Gladiator, who are both prisoners, and the Beyonder, who has been rendered amnesiac by its choice to assume a mortal female form. Thanos battles the Beyonder and causes its mind to shut down, leaving its power trapped within a comatose mortal body. Thanos then instructs the Kyln officers to keep the Beyonder on life support indefinitely in order to prevent the entity from being reborn. Thanos departs the Kyln in the company of Skreet, a chaos-mite freed from the prison. Thanos then meets the Fallen, a former Herald of Galactus. Thanos defeats the former Herald and places him under complete mental control.”

Thank you Wikipedia. When you kick the @#$ of the Beyonder, who was the cause of Secret Wars and Secret Wars II…without resorting to playing Jenga…that makes you cosmic.

So how was Thanos Rising?

As I said earlier, the art was beautiful. Like, epic level great. I’m proud to have adorned it with one of my better pieces of work.

The story? Less so. See how I was able to summarize Thanos’ motives above, pretty easily? He’s a bad guy…who loves Death. Loves Death as a girlfriend that is, as creepy as that may be. So that’s why he has issues. That simple. The ultimate nihilist, on purpose, as a mattor of reason.

The story of Thanos Rising? Thanos is young, and kind of emo. He has no friends, is depressed, and squeamish about dissections. When a spaced out Goth Girl riles him up, he gets kind of Anakin Skywalker a la Tusken Americanss about these space lizards. Lizards that killed his only pseudo friends.

Really?

Doesn’t sound like this guy:

This guy just doesn't look like he got bullied a whole lot.  And yeah, this is just a crop from the color version.  Expect at least two more...I liked the way this went.

This guy just doesn’t look like he got bullied a whole lot. And yeah, this is just a crop from the color version. Expect at least two more…I liked the way this went.

The Buy Pile, a frequently read review column on CBR, corroborates this view. Check it out:

“Thanos Rising” #1 takes everything that’s cool about Thanos and pretty much ruins it. Titanian hospitals clearly need better security for their instruments, somewhere on a refrigerator on Titan you won’t find juvenile artwork from a young Thanos who very much wanted to play because apparently Reed Richards is a more attentive dad than Mentor, and Thanos’ mother was MIA in a loony bin (also: no sign of his brother). Undoing everything that worked with the character, writer Jason Aaron is tonally and textually off base in every possible way with this script.”

Harsh. Harsh because it speaks more eloquently to what I just said.

Even in pencil sketch, I really dont want to #$%& around with Old School, Non Emo Thanos.

Even in pencil sketch, I really dont want to #$%& around with Old School, Non Emo Thanos.

I can see continuing to follow the book for the truly incredible interior art, but I think the story, in a dramatic sense, is undermining a character that is quite literally, just bad to the bones. Starlin openly admits to having cribbed from Kirby’s New Gods, while using the elements of his college Psych classes to inform his pantheon of Eternals from Titan. Source material like that is supposed to be lurid, epic broad strokes…not bullying on an astronomical body that many readers might not realize actually exists.

Sigh.

This posts, as I have been trying to with Sketch Variants, on Wednesday, comic book shipping day. I really enjoyed this sketch variant a great deal, in that it really gave me different content to seek out, as opposed to another Wolverine or X-Book. Originally, I wasn’t going to do this cover, but when a celebration of the old “cosmic” books that I love presented itself…I kind of had to.

As an ending variant, of my variant (I really feel like Marvel with variants of a variant of a variant), the Obama style filter, which looked startlingly good:

thanossurf1

I liked this enough to crop it further, probably for a t-shirt:

To Protect and to Surf.

To Protect and to Surf.

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