Thanos #9
THANOS #9 is a superbly written issue by the great Jeff Lemire. On top of having great characterization, the book also features a great addition: the return of narration boxes filled with cheeky humor.
85 %
Darkly Humorous

Impending doom for all life on Earth looms over THANOS #9. However, writer Jeff Lemire still finds time for levity in this cosmically enchanting issue. Thanks to Lemire’s use of third person narration boxes to add in some humorous asides — a callback to Silver Age Marvel books — sprinklings of personality add breaks between the expository scenes in the book. Rachelle Rosenberg’s coloring helps underscore the dark, moody atmosphere of the majority of the book. Thanks to an engaging story, droll narration boxes, and gloomy color work, THANOS #9 sets up an engaging third act for Lemire’s soon-to-be legendary run.

Meet the Phoenix

In previous issues of THANOS, Death, Thanos’ former lover, and Thane, the Mad Titan’s son, joined forces. Harnessing the power of the Phoenix Force, Thane stole the terminally ill Thanos’ powers and made him mortal. Now, in THANOS #9, the depowered Titan and his brother Starfox venture to the far reaches of the universe to a dimension called the God Quarry. In this dimension, three old, Shakespearean witch-like sisters watch over a pit which houses the desiccated remains of long-dead gods. Thanos hopes to regain his powers with the help of the sisters. Then, he plans to take down his ungrateful son.

Thanos #9
THANOS #9 page 2. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Meanwhile, Death reveals to Thane that she hopes to preemptively kill all life on Earth before they learn of Thane’s new powers. Thane, however, is more interested in finding his father and killing him.

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Lemire ups the stakes in THANOS #9. In previous issues, the major threat was only to Thanos and those close to him. With this issue, Lemire sets up what may become a major redemption arc for the man who previously wiped out half of all life in the universe. For all of Thanos’ bluster, this issue shows that Thanos at least cares a bit about the fate of the universe. Sure, he may want revenge against Thane, but he also sets into motion a plan that, if successful, would also save all life on Earth.

Light in the Darkness

Lemire fills THANOS #9 with various narration boxes. In these boxes, Lemire adds an omniscient narrator to the story, one who, presumably, has no relation with the characters within. In the first humorous aside in the issue, Nebula, Thanos’ granddaughter, seduces Tryco Slatterus, an elder of the universe. Once Tryco realizes what she’s doing, Nebula tells him to be quiet. Before ending the scene, the narrator clears their throat and suggests that Tryco should listen to Nebula. Lemire does this again when Tryco lets out a censored expletive, and the narrator repeats the expletive and adds “indeed.”

Thanos #9
THANOS #9 page 16. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

There are more examples throughout the issue, but this usage of levity elevates the book from another interesting Marvel cosmic-level book to one of the best books on the stands right now. This adds character and a unique style to the book. Narration boxes went out of style years ago. Nowadays, it’s rare to see even one book by a publisher with old-school style narration boxes. Lemire brings them back and makes them relevant. They’re not just there as a cute little callback to comics of yesteryear (although that does seem to be part of the reason why). They’re there to add levity to what would, in most other writers’ hands, be a heavy, dramatic book. It’s about a mass murdering, death-obsessed warlord dying of a terminal disease. It needs some levity to stop it from being too depressing.

READ: Love Thanos? Read our review of the first issue of his mini-series with Deadpool!

Doom and Gloom

Rosenberg adds to the overall depressing plot of the book by using a dreary, muted color palette. Each panel is filled with dark, ugly reds, purples, and blues. Mixed together, they make for a very murky, somber look. Even the action scenes, which are few and far between, are filled with these dark colors. It may look ugly, but that’s what Rosenberg seems to have intended. In this regard, it fits the tone of the story perfectly. While there are some moments of levity, the actual plot is quite dark. It makes the consequences of the physical embodiment of Death planning to snuff out all life on Earth more believable.

THANOS #9 – A Cosmic Thrill

If you’re a fan of cosmic-level Marvel books, you should pick up THANOS #9. It does a great service to the character, while also telling a very exciting story. You’ll be itching for the next issue once you get to the end of this one.

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