To some, he's the Avengers' greatest cosmic foe. To others, he's currently the hottest villain in comics after the premiere of Marvel's latest event, Infinity. And then there's those outside of the fanboy crowd, who just know him as the purple guy at the end of Marvel's The Avengers.
He's Thanos, and as Marvel continues to push him on the comic side before he takes over the silver screen in upcoming films, you may want to learn a little bit more about him. In this column, let's do just that in the first of a series of columns about this big, bad and purple tyrant.
Thanos, also known as The Mad Titan, The God of Death, The Overmaster, Masterlord, and affectionately, Chins, has been a Marvel mainstay since the 1970s. He actually first appeared in a '73 Iron Man issue, alongside the debuts of Drax the Destroyer and the Blood Brothers (but not the post-hardcore band of the same name).
To understand the root of the character, let's first take a peek at the origin of Thanos. From 1973 to 1979, Thanos appeared in issues of not just Iron Man, but also Avengers, Captain Marvel, Warlock and surprisingly, Daredevil. I mean, this guy was just bumming everyone out.
It's in this decade that Thanos becomes a major villain in the ongoing series for Captain Marvel. We start to chip away at the origin of the character, who always seemed to be on a new conquest over the years. Whether it was the Cosmic Cube, Infinity Gauntlet or the Oracle, he's always had a taste for cosmic and mystical artifacts that grant pure knowledge and power. And a couple times, he's been successful. But what makes this character such a conquistador from his inception?
Well, you shouldn't blame his parents too much. Thanos' elders were actually pretty decent people.
Thanos is an Eternal, a race created a million years ago when the Celestials first visited Earth. A'Lars and Sui-San, Thanos' folks, were members of that race. They had a settlement on Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Our dear Thanos was born with "Deviant Syndrome," a strain of the Eternals that changed his appearance from humanoid to, well, something gray and big and just not pretty. His mother had the inclination to kill him when he was born, but alas, he was allowed to live.
As a child, Thanos had an obsession with death. This became fitting, as Death, the living embodiment of the concept in female form, became his girlfriend in his adult life. (I know, I know. Comics, man.) Thanos' nihilistic natural drove him to make enhancements on himself, becoming the most powerful Eternal on Titan. After putting together an army, he dropped a bomb.
No, I mean that literally. He ravaged his home moon with explosives and his henchmen, killing his own mother in the process. Throughout the years, he became the self-proclaimed ruler of Titan. And eventually, he set his sights on Earth. He would go on to have bouts with just about every major Marvel hero. And each time, his power and thirst for death (and Death) would become more obvious.
So Thanos has always been kind of a dick.
I mean, just look at what happened when a kid grabbed the Cosmic Cube in the pages of Spider-Man Super-Stories.
And though you can place blame on his mutant strain, need to please the female Death, or an unchecked, childish interest that became monstrous, it's safe to say that this won't be the Avengers' most sympathetic villain when he hits theaters. How much of this origin we will see in Guardians of the Galaxy or Avengers: Age of Ultron remains to be seen. We can just count on one thing: He's not heading for reformation.
He's Thanos, and he really likes to conquer people.
This is the basis of how many look at the villain. And in a future column, we'll take a look at his conquests to see just how nasty this guy can get. Until then, you can read more about him in the pages of Infinity, which debuted this week.
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