“Love is not for the lost or the weak, Thanos of Titan. Nor the mewling or hopelessly pathetic. Love is not for children or cowards.”

Some people find their partners in their hobbies, their habits, their hangouts. Others grow up with them, knowing them since the early days of school and childhood. A few just happen by chance out in the wild. These days quite a few attempt to find love through the internet and dating apps. And then some garner the attention of one of the primordial forces in the universe and seek their approval through the elimination of half of all life in a snap. The couple led to one of the greatest event comics ever in The Infinity Gauntlet, but how Thanos and Death began their courtship wasn’t really told until later in Thanos Rising from Jason Aaron, Simone Bianchi, Riccardo Pieruccini, Simone Peruzzi, Ive Svorcina, and Clayton Cowles.

There’s been a trend in the past decade or so of giving famous villains a tragic backstory to make them more sympathetic, in some cases even turning them into anti-heroes in the process. You’ll see that perhaps there are redemptive measures in their past or justification for their actions, like their mothers are eaten by rabid Dalmatians or something. Not so much here. Although to be fair, Thanos’ friends do get eaten by some cave lizards and there is a bout of vengeance, but it’s not quite a reason for his mission.

That rather comes through an attempt to find out what makes him tick, with an almost serial killer like precision and dedication, and an ongoing obsession with love and death. And jealousy, there’s some jealousy in there too. Jason Aaron lays it on a little thick at times, through a kind of Shakespearean epic bent to Thanos’ dialogue, that really puts it over the top.

Simone Bianchi’s artwork is fairly singular in comics. There are a few folks that come to mind of using ink or colour washes and there are quite a few that have hyper-detailed characters and backgrounds, but it’s not often that we see both, while also combined with unique layouts. With Riccardo Pieruccini also providing inking and washes and Simone Peruzzi & Ive Svorcina colours, this is a gorgeous book to read. It gives every page a kind of epic feel to it, even as we navigate from Thanos’ peculiar childhood through to his more larger-than-life stature of today. There’s also some nice connectivity in Clayton Cowles’ lettering giving Thanos a uniquely styled word balloon that carries over from his youth.

Thanos Rising by Aaron, Bianchi, Pieruccini, Peruzzi, Svorcina, and Cowles, through chronicling the early years and ascension of Thanos, asks the question of whether his obsession with Death is either love or madness. How you read it and fit it in with the broader tapestry of infinity and beyond is up to you, but maybe love is madness.

Thanos Rising

Classic Comic Compendium: Thanos Rising

Thanos Rising
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Simone Bianchi with Riccardo Pieruccini (inks & inkwash)
Colourists: Simone Peruzzi & Ive Svorcina
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: October 29 2013

Read past entries in the Classic Comic Compendium!