Marvel has a well-known “villain problem,” but the new solo comic Thanos written by Jeff Lemire might have solved that issue before 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War even took a crack at it.
In Thanos #1 out this week, which takes place after Civil War II, Thanos returns from Earth to the Black Quadrant only to find his throne taken by Corbus Glaive, his former lieutenant. Glaive has ruled with a fair and firm iron fist, but Thanos — being the big, evil space warmonger he is — is pretty pissed. He forces Glaive to kill himself rather than face death by Thanos’s giant purple hands.
In the final panel by Mike Deodata Jr., Thanos looks nothing like the powerful dictator he is normally. He’s drooling blood, and without his helmet, he’s bald and emaciated. This isn’t the Thanos who strikes fear within Marvel Universe; it seems, in Lemire’s comic, Thanos isn’t just fighting a murder plot. He’s dying.
Thanos’s disease has not been named (yet), but it sure looks bad. It also provides the Marvel Cinematic Universe a solid foundation for the dude’s forthcoming appearance in Avengers: Infinity War. Although the movies only liberally adapt the comic books, there is now a precedent for a real story as to why Thanos is hunting for the Infinity Stones.
Before Lemire’s newest comic, the prevailing theory on why Thanos is searching for the stones comes from 1991’s The Infinity Gauntlet written by Jim Starlin. In that six-issue series, Thanos hopes to win Death’s affections by collecting the Infinity Gems and wielding its combined power.
Trying to woo the personification of Death is a pretty good story for a ‘90s comic book, but as the finale for ten years of blockbuster movies, it’s sort of an awkward one. Thanos fighting for his own life is definitely a more interesting reason, and it’s one that could add depth to the Russos’s Infinity War. While it’s still unknown if Thanos is the source material for the film, this wouldn’t be a bad backstory at all.
Avengers: Infinity War will be released May 4, 2018.