Will “Thanos Rising #2” be more messed up than issue one? Yes. Oh god, yes.
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Simone Bianchi
THE RISE OF MARVEL’S GREATEST EVIL CONTINUES BY TWO OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED CREATORS IN COMICS!!
• Continuing the jaw-dropping origin of the mad Titan who will soon change the face of the Galaxy!
• Death follows young Thanos as his inner darkness grows.
In an interview regarding “Thanos Rising”, Jason Aaron said this title would be “the high school years of Jeffrey Dahmer.” And now, two issues in, it is safe to say that not only was Jason not exaggerating, but that he is doing a great job of writing what is probably the most brilliantly effed up Marvel NOW! book of the line.
Thanos has always had, at least on paper, a very vague motivation. He has always been that dude who just wants to murder everything so he can impress and then make out with the Grim Reaper (or open a chicken farm if we’re going with the Super Hero Squad Show incarnation). Or at least, that’s how his motivation seemed to be; Thanos has had a very complex persona that set him apart from the other thousand would-be alien conquerors roaming the universe, so it is very refreshing to see Jason Aaron map out what exactly sets The Mad Titan apart from other would-be conquerors. While Ultron or Annihulus may just want to blow everything up, Thanos is recast with a fitting serial-killer style mentality through “Thanos Rising” that essentially casts him as an insanely cool mix between Darkseid and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.
Speaking of Nny, it is incredibly hard not to get Jhonen Vasquez flashbacks when reading Thanos’s dialogue. It’s psychotic, it’s self-loathing, it’s brutal, and it’s downright scary. The conversations with his mother especially stand out as something much more than Generic Conqueror. Jason Aaron’s skill at writing Thanos as this outsider who cannot connect with anyone is genius. Thankfully, Aaron is also able to avoid any Annie Skywalker pratfalls and keep young Thanos from being too young so as to disrupt the reader’s image of who he will become.
Of course, conversation ends up being most of the issue. Thanos spends pretty much the whole issue talking about his experimentations in Death and most of the gruesome scenes occur off-screen. Not that Multiversity Comics needs to get on more government watch lists than it is already on, but some more showing and less telling would certainly give the talented Simone Bianchi some more to do. Simone does wonders with what’s presented to him: the underground city of The Eternals, the design for Thanos’s companion, even teenage Thanos comes off as kind of cute in a Freddie Highmore on Bates Motel kind of way. (We swear this book is not affecting us mentally.)
However, it still feels like a bit of a cop-out when, right as Thanos is about to go full-on Mad Titan, we skip ahead to the next day. There are a few scenes where this lack of imagery is played for laughs, but it still feels like a major missed opportunity to show how messed up Thanos is becoming. Truth be told though, this lack of fountains of blood and dissection depictions probably has less to do with Aaron or Bianchi not having the guts (heh) and more to do with Marvel not being Vertigo or Image in terms of lack-of-censorship standards.
That’s such a shame, too, because Bianchi really does a great job with what he’s given. His young Thanos looks like every weird outsider teenager. Small, skinny, almost sickly; when compared to the other Eternals he looks completely out of place, nicely fitting in with the general plot and contrasting with the shiny utopia the rest of Titan is. Plus, the cover to this issue, with Thanos sitting on a throne holding some skulls and wearing a shit-eating grin, is just fantastic. His use of shadows in one certain scene perfectly encapsulates Thanos’ relationship with his mother, and that entire scene, with Bianchi’s art and Aaron’s script combined, gives the perfect representation of just who Thanos is.Continued below
In the end, that’s exactly what “Thanos Rising” is: it is the definitive story of who Thanos is and how he came to be. For new readers, it’s a great introduction to one of Marvel’s best villains. For older readers, it redefines the character in a way that still retains all of his old characteristics, but realigns them in a way that makes Thanos a much more solid character. The book is definitely not for someone looking to see a bunch of massive explosions or dismembered heads, but as of now is a medium-burn with the violence quick, quiet, and mostly off-screen. At the very least, “Thanos Rising” is a great jumping on point for all the readers who are going to want to know the Mad Titan after he appears in roughly everything Marvel makes for the next few years until Avengers 2.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – Buy