Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thanos (2017) # 14

Cover Artist: Geoff Shaw
Published: February 2018
Original Price: $3.99

Title: "Thanos Wins, Part 2"
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Editor: Jordan D. White
Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso

In the far future, millions of years after the murders of nearly every being in the universe, King Thanos sits on his throne with the Spirit of Vengeance as his only companion.  He has called his younger self from the 21st century to his future time, and the young Thanos reacts with violence, not believing that he is face to face with himself.  When the Ghost Rider steps in to stop the younger Thanos, stating that he can't be killed, he is hoisted up by his skull with the intention to test that theory.  King Thanos gets on his knees and says "please" to his younger self, stating he needs his help.  Thanos blasts Old King Thanos out of the throne room, unwilling to believe that he would ever ask for help from anyone, but is convinced when his older self calls him by his true birth name, "Dionne".  King Thanos states that he has lost someone and needs help getting them back; when young Thanos asks who he lost, he is pointed to a magnificent statue of Mistress Death while King Thanos answers "who do you think?".

The identity of the Cosmic Ghost Rider is revealed in Thanos (2017) # 15 and his origin told in Thanos (2017) # 16.

Podcast Review: Inner Demons Episode 19 - "Espresso at the Gates of Hell" (Click to Listen)

Thanos meets his (much) older self in this second part of "Thanos Wins".

I really don't have a whole lot to say about this one, since the new Cosmic Ghost Rider has such a minimal role in the issue.  He gets a nice one-page segment where he's hoisted up by his skull by young Thanos, but other than that and a promise that readers will learn his story at a later date he doesn't get much play after his thunderous arrival in the previous issue.  It's actually a tad bit disappointing considering that build-up and how easily he captured Thanos to see him relegated to almost comic relief here, but I can easily forgive it.  He gets a much bigger role in the series in the next several issues and this is a much-needed spotlight on the book's title character that's done in such a way as to be utterly fascinating.

Donny Cates has this way of describing events that gives them this dramatic importance, his narration makes everything feel fucking EPIC.  The art of third person narration in comics is almost lost these days, and definitely unappreciated, but go back to the 1970s and it's everywhere.  It fell out of fashion once Frank Miller started doing first person narration in Daredevil, but a good "third person omniscient" can really spice things up.  It's especially effective when you have to get through a large span of time in just a few pages, which is what Cates has to do here.  He starts the comic off with Thanos' birth and makes even that occasion seem ominous and foreboding, then speeds through the entire history of the character up into the far future.  It's some really deft shorthand that effectively achieves the intended sense that Thanos is this inevitable doom that will ultimately kill everything in the universe.  I've said before that Thanos isn't a character I ever really cared much about it, he was always just okay but nothing special.  This story is absolutely changing that attitude.

One of the most important reasons for that change is the artwork by Geoff Shaw, who can make something as simple as Thanos' birth and make it both gripping and terrifying at the same time.  His job couldn't have been an easy one in this issue, what with the two-page summary of Thanos' published history followed quickly by his panoramic destructive acts against the Marvel Universe of the future.  Look at that spread of the Celestials walking toward Thanos, that is some incredible artwork that absolutely convinces you that this is something that demands your full attention. 

So, while this isn't much of a Ghost Rider story even in guest-appearance standards, it's still a remarkable comic and necessary for the storyline as a whole.  Definitely pick it up.

Grade: A+