Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Thanos War!

The Thanos War is a highlight of Marvel's Bronze Age, the signature storyline which established the career of Thanos creator Jim Starlin and will presumably supply the plot (of sorts) for the next big-screen Avengers event. Marvel has now collected what has been dubbed "The Thanos War" in a hefty trade titled The Avengers Versus Thanos. It's not a magical title, not even a particularly good one, but it the collection does a good thing, it puts together the saga of the assembled Marvel heroes, in particular Captain Marvel, Warlock, and Iron Man , as they combat the nihilistic nightmares of the the Mad God Thanos.

The collection begins with Iron Man #55 dated February 1973 which debuted many of Starlin's concepts, including Drax the Destroyer and  Thanos himself. Alas "The Thanos War" began one issue earlier technically, but we'll get to that later. This issue has been collected many times with select issue of Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel #25 gives us the third installment of the saga and moves it to the title which will carry the brunt of the battle against The Mad God.

Mar-Vell struggles against Thanos, battling his vassels such as Super-Skrull and The Controller in a struggle which transforms the hero himself. It is in this conflagration that Captain Marvel becomes cosmically aware.

The battle shifts from the pages of "The Most Cosmic Superhero of All!" to Marvel Feature where The Thing and Iron Man battle against the Blood Brothers once again.

And now we come to this collection's flaw. Not included is Iron Man #54 by Mike Friedrich and George Tuska from an idea by Subby creator Bill Everett. This issue introduced the alluring, shiny-pated "Madame MacEvil", who we would later come to know as the always charming Moondragon and so this comic book  is technically the first chapter in The Thanos War despite the odd fact it predates Starlin's introduction of the core concepts.

That issue is not included but is summarized to help readers seque into a trio of Daredevil issues by Steve Gerber, Don Heck, Bob Brown, and Sal Buscema which feature Moondragon and some really nasty baddies like Dark Messiah, Ramrod and the always delightful Angar the Screamer.

Captain Marvel even stops by, as the story in his comic continues to build.

At the climax of Mar-Vell's struggle against Thanos the story slides over seamlessly to The Avengers #125 for one exquisite issue by Steve Englehart, John Buscema, and Dave Cockrum. The Assemblers take on the Mad God.

Before the saga finally concludes its first chapter in the pages of Captain Marvel. The Thanos threat is ended.

But then many months later Starlin takes over the reins of Warlock and brings back his evil Titan. Thanos walks again and threatens the whole universe.

The battle kills Warlock, but the threat of Thanos is abated a second time.

Then the saga reaches its final phase. That is introduced in a brief short story in the back of Logan's Run #6, which reintroduces Thanos and Drax the Destroyer.

Then the finale of finales starts in the epic two-part tale told in two annuals in the summer of 1977, four years after it began.

First in the pages of The Avengers Annual the battle against Thanos continues yet again.

Until the threat is seemingly ended once and for all in Marvel-Two-In-One Annual, the assembled heroes of Earth against the Mad God.

It's really neat to have all these parts of Jim Starlin's sprawling saga in one place, a hefty but still handy trade which can be read easily. In full color, even at a thirty dollar plus price, this package is something of a bargain for those who have not yet read this epic, or for folks like me who have but want to experience it all over again.

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  1. One of the highlights of the Bronze Age, essential reading!

    1. I agree. I have always been a Captain Marvel fan, and it's interesting to look back and realize that while his series was never really all that successful, his influence on the Marvel Universe (Kree-Skrull War, Thanos War) still echoes through the line.

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  2. The Destroyer was in the golden age wasn't he in All Winners or the like?

    1. The Golden Age Destroyer is a completely different character who has himself been revised a few times over the decades.

      Drax the Destroyer is Jim Starlin's original creation and after a long existence here and there in the MU is part of the Guardians of the Galaxy now I think.

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