Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spotlight: Thanos Rising #1

(w) Jason Aaron     (a) Simone Bianchi

Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi's intimate look at the origin of the mad god Thanos begins this month as Marvel continues to beef up it's cosmic family of titles. This isn't your average villain's journey -- Thanos is one of the most powerful, destructive, and god-like entities in the entire known universe, yet his early days aren't quite what you'd expect. In fact, Aaron's interpretation of the character's beginnings take a different narrative direction than most villain origins.

Thanos: Rising #1 shows that Aaron and Bianchi have a very different idea for Thanos than -- I would venture to assume -- most any comic book fan would anticipate. Indeed, the mad god wasn't isolated as a child or hated by his parents; he didn't really cause anything horrific, nor did he innately desire to be evil. Thanos was, it seems, a pretty happy kid. Though a unique genetic mutation turned his skin purple and his eyes black, Thanos is never really ostracized by the other children. He's a smart, bright, energetic boy who lives up to his perceived destiny amongst his fellow Eternals, and he's done it knowing his place in life is much different than most. Aaron is looking at Thanos through the lens of a fallen angel, of a sorts. It's a metaphor that describes the events of this first issue and plays off the series' title, as well.

It would seem that the age old question of 'nature vs. nurture' applies here, as Thanos' upbringing has made him kind and gentle, while his true self lies dormant. That being said, I hope it's not as simple as that. It's a common cliche to make the villain destined for evil. Thanos has been pushed toward the darkness since his first moments of existence, so his optimistic outlook is all the more surprising and impressive.

I'm already very impressed with Thanos: Rising. Jason Aaron only has four more issues to take Thanos from being an emotionally broken, yet stunningly intelligent boy to the scourge of the universe. Much like his work in Thor: God of Thunder, Aaron is giving us the story piecemeal, with details that will eventually come together to show the Son of Titan's fall from grace. I've never been a huge fan of Simone Bianchi's artwork in the past, but this entire issue just looks phenomenal -- a good artistic pairing. Much like in real life, it's the little things in Thanos' childhood that point toward a terrible future. And it's in those details that Aaron finds an emotional basis for this series.


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