We see Thanos finally grown up, having fled his home planet on Titan after last issue’s shocking, horrific reveal. The Mad Titan is desperate for what he perceives as a “normal” life, but it all feels hollow and meaningless. A string of children from different, abandoned mothers and a nomadic, pacifist life on a pirate ship have done little to quell the yearning in his heart as Thanos knows where he must, inevitably, return to. Jason Aaron attempting to fill the completely unknown backstory of Thanos takes an interesting turn as he is now fully a mercenary, and a brilliant one, but he refuses to take any further life, causing him to be mocked by his fellows. It’s clear who’ll have the last laugh by the end of the issue, however, when Thanos returns to Titan and meets back up with the first girl who truly won his heart, but now it seems she has darker plans for the unrepentant murderer.
Simone Bianchi’s art is, as always, stunning and strange. The alien planets Thanos journeys to are beautifully rendered and realized, the Titan himself towers over everyone he meets, making his non-aggression all the more juxtaposed, but even those not blessed with enormous height are distinctly drawn, and you never lose sight of the main ones, even in the giant crowds the book frequently goes to.
This book has yet to really justify itself to me. I’ve said it in previous reviews: the story of Thanos’ origin wasn’t one that necessarily needed to be told, a mystery is sometimes stronger than full knowledge and that’s doubly true in sci-fi. It's almost as true in comics as well, just look at Bullseye: we STILL know next to nothing about the character, and that’s made him all the more frightening and even interesting, particularly when hints ARE dropped. So if this story is going to be told, it needs to be absolutely astounding, and more importantly: it really should be original. There’s nothing in this story that couldn’t have been almost any villain’s backstory (besides the space travel, which actually isn’t as critical as it sounds since the story could have just as easily taken place on a single planet with a reduced scale). Thanos was simply born bad, seemingly, and besides being an eight-foot tall alien, his back story hasn’t really added anything unique to that situation.
I’ve said before that I’m a huge fan of both Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi, and that continues to hold true, but this book is a rare misstep. Not only is it rote in its execution, it doesn’t really add anything to Thanos as a character. Knowing what we now know doesn’t give us a better understanding of him, either as a man or as a villain and the book is beginning to feel like Dexter in Space with a lot of its tropes. This issue still grinds by on the strength of the art, but unless the next two are absolutely astounding, I can’t see what the purpose of this book has been, and that’s the thing at the end of the day: the book’s not BAD by any stretch, it’s just not adding much.