Wednesday, May 09, 2012


Since nearly everyone in the world seems to have seen the Avengers, I'm not giving away much but talking about the scene at the end of the movie. A defeated alien tells his boss, "To attack the Earth is to court death." The boss turns and smiles.

This guy is Thanos, one of Marvel's top villains.

He has an interesting pedigree. In the early 1970s, Jack Kirby moved from Marvel to DC and created a trio of comics (he called it a trilogy) loosely inspired by The Lord of the Rings. The comics were The New Gods, The Forever People, and Mr. Miracle and they involved the struggle between a race of super beings and a powerful being named Darkseid (pronounced Dark Side).

Darkseid was a stone-faced humanoid with a massive build and enormous personal power, especially beams that came from his eyes. He ruled a ruined planet full of "dog soldiers" and his ultimate goal was to possess something called the Anti-Life Equation. This would allow him to control everyone, anywhere.

A few years later an artist named Jim Starlin started at Marvel and began introducing characters he had dreamed up. Central to this was Thanos (Greek for death), a stone-faced humanoid with enormous personal power (including eye beams) who literally loved death (in the Marvel Universe, abstract concepts like death can take on human form).

Thanos was from a race called the Titans because they lived on Saturn's moon, Titan. His father was Mentor and his brother was Eros. His father was Cronus who was sort of a disembodied god.

From an early age, Thanos was fascinated by death and was eventually joined by an avatar of Death appearing as a icy-cold woman in dark robes.

Along the way Thanos bombed his own people, killing most of them. While scouting the Earth, his spaceship was seen by some humans in a car so he destroyed it. One of the car's occupants, Heather Douglas, survived and was rescued by Mentor and raised on Titan where she developed great mental powers and took the name Moondragon.

Mentor asked Cronus for help against Thanos so Cronus used the spirit of Moondragon's father to animate an artificial being named the Destroyer. His only mission was to destroy Thanos. Eventually the two met and fought. The fight destroyed the planet they were on and the Destroyer was captured.

This was all backstory. These characters entered the Marvel universe when the Destroyer managed to contact Iron Man and ask for aid. Iron Man tried to free the Destroyer with his repulser rays but was knocked on his rear. Then a giant foot stomped on Iron Man's hand, denting the armor.

This was our introduction to Thanos. The Destroyer was freed using Iron Man's armor as a relay for energy sent from Titan by Mentor and Thanos disappeared.

He next surfaced in Captain Marvel where his plan was revealed. Thanos was after Captain Marvel's alter ego, Rick Jones whose mind held the location of the Cosmic Cube (called the Tessaract in the movie). Once Thanos got his hand on the Cube he had a single wish - to be an all-powerful god.

While this was going on, Captain Marvel gained "cosmic awareness" which allowed him to realize that Thanos the god was still powered by the Cosmic Cube. Marvel destroyed the Cube and Thanos vanished.

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