THANOS ANNUAL #1 is a phenomenal issue. Packed to the gills with world-class writers and artists, it's an issue that can't be missed by Thanos fans. It comes out just in time for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR too, for all you MCU fans out there.
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A Titanic Treat

Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw are back for the coda to their run on THANOS, and they brought a few friends along to help. In THANOS ANNUAL #1, Frank Castle, the Cosmic Ghost Rider, regales the audience with some of Thanos’ most chillingly evil antics. Cates and Shaw tell a short story of Thanos and Gamora. Chris Hastings and Flaviano tell another of some horrific birthdays. Some other creators telling spine-tingling and, at times, gut-busting funny tales are Kieron Gillen, Andre Araujo, Katie Cook, Ryan North, Will Robson, Al Ewing and Frazer Irving. THANOS ANNUAL #1 is perfect for anyone who needs some Thanos action before or after seeing AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR.

Thanos’ Motives: From The Page To INFINITY WAR

Donny Cates and Chris Hastings in THANOS ANNUAL #1

The first tale in THANOS ANNUAL #1 is by Cates and Shaw. In it, Thanos subjects Gamora to a variety of arduous battles while she is still a child. He picks out bloodthirsty warriors from the many planets he’s conquered and lets Gamora “play” with them in order to hone her abilities as the soon-to-be deadliest woman in the galaxy.

Half of the stories in the annual are humorous: this is not one of them. At only four pages long, it’s a short tale, but the twist ending makes it as chilling as the end of a 20-page book. Shaw’s artwork is appropriately bloody and horrifying. When Gamora is introduced, she’s standing in a giant pool of green blood, impaling some alien warrior and bathing in the blood. It’s a nice, chilling coda for Cates and Shaw’s run to end on.

THANOS ANNUAL #1 page 8. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

The next story, by Chris Hastings and Flaviano is, in my opinion, the funniest story in the book. It’s a downright bizarre tale of Thanos tormenting a random boy on Earth on every one of his birthdays. We never really learn why, but the how is just hilarious. Thanos drops a wrecked car in front of the boys’s house on his fifth birthday. He poisons the liquor on his 21st and kills everyone at his party. The best, though, is when Thanos breaks the boy up with his girlfriend on his 16th birthday over text message. I don’t audibly laugh much while reading comics, but Flaviano’s drawing of Thanos angrily texting with his giant hands made me legitimately laugh out loud. GWENPOOL may be cancelled, but Hastings has still got it.

Kieron Gillen and Katie Cook in THANOS ANNUAL #1

In the third tale of THANOS ANNUAL #1, Kieron Gillen and Andre Araujo take us back to INFINITY GAUNTLET, where Thanos wipes out half the universe and Death barely cares. Before the Elders of the Universe attack him, Thanos does something beautifully morose. He snuffs out the most bizarrely artistic planets in the universe (for example, one of them has trees that make leaves with poetry engraved on them). This makes for a beautiful light show in the sky of planets being snuffed out in various colorful ways, thanks to Araujo’s artwork. The idea behind it is horrifying, but the final outcome really does look stunning. Bravo to Araujo and Gillen for this dour tale.

THANOS ANNUAL #1 page 18. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

And now for something completely different. Katie Cook’s story has Thanos visit a cutesy planet of cartoony beings inspired by the most insipidly saccharine cartoons ever made (Care Bears, et al.). There, he broadcasts his plan to conquer the planet and be their new god. The denizens of the planet are overjoyed to learn this. You see, nothing takes away their eternal happiness and optimism. Eventually, Thanos lets them know his intentions to kill them all. They happily oblige and start murdering each other and killing themselves in the most terrifyingly adorable ways. It’s a great little joke, but it almost makes me feel sick to look at. Your mileage may vary for this one, depending on your tolerance for extreme gore shown through the cutest lens.

Ryan North and Al Ewing in THANOS ANNUAL #1

The penultimate tale in THANOS ANNUAL #1 comes from Ryan North and Will Robson. It starts off with another humorous premise. Thanos teleports away from a climactic battle with heroes in order to help an old woman cross the street. As he does so, Cosmic Ghost Rider tells us about how horrific his tale is and how evil Thanos is for his act. We learn why it is so downright evil and self-serving, but I won’t spoil it here. The ending is genuinely surprising and, for a seemingly humorous story, it’s incredibly nihilistic in a purposefully unfunny way. North did a fantastic job with a story that could have just been a jokey throwaway. It turned into a depressing fable about mortality and the lives we could have led.

The final story, by Al Ewing and Frazer Irving, is my favorite. There’s really very little to no humor in this tale. A religious leader in a foreign world tells of a god who takes the souls of the planet’s citizens when they die and, if they’ve led a peaceful, harmonious life, reincarnates them. If they sin, their soul is held back until the god makes them into a better person. Thanos arrives and tells these aliens that he’s killed their god. It turns out it was just an omnipotent immortal who helped these aliens as a hobby to curb boredom. Now, Thanos took away their hope of an afterlife. It’s a tragic story about religion and the true existence of gods. Ewing, as always, writes a fabulous story.

Frazer Irving in THANOS ANNUAL #1

However, much of the credit should go to Irving, whose drawings are pure art. Thanos’ evil, malicious grin in the page below should be one of the most iconic Thanos panels. The next two pages, a double-page spread of Thanos after he killed the supposed “god” should be in a museum. It’s that beautiful. It’s worth the price of the book for that two page spread alone.

THANOS ANNUAL #1 page 27. Image courtesy of Marvel Entertainment.

Final Thoughts: THANOS ANNUAL #1

Thanos and Thanos Fight to the Death in THANOS #18

THANOS ANNUAL #1 comes highly recommended from me. It’s a great anthology book telling various stories about the Mad Titan. The book is perfect for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR fans who want more Thanos. It’s the perfect place to start for new readers who learn about Thanos from the movie. Each tale perfectly encapsulates Thanos’ character.

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