The mad Titan Thanos has a new pet interest: the young girl Gamora, last survivor of her race! She has seen Death first hand, and Thanos demands answers as to why and how...
Thanos drags young Gamora off to his space station, Sanctuary, but only he knows her true purpose there. The members of his elite Butcher Squadron, though, immediately suspect a rat - or at least a means of getting inside Thanos' head and ensuring their own survival - and begin to test this young upstart.
But while this internal backstabbing is afoot, Thanos is more than a little distracted by his war with the Magus, who has the advantage and isn't afraid to press it!
Simply calling this series Thanos is a tad misleading, as Thanos & Gamora would be a little more accurate. Now obviously for reasons of synergistic marketing, the former title was always gonna be the contender (you may have noticed ol’ Purple Puss made his glorious return to the big screen recently), but both spiritually and functionally, this series is as much if not more about Gamora than Titan’s own favorite mad son. Heck, writer Tini Howard even made Gamora her POV character, so really, events are filtered through her eyes even when she’s off-scene.
The problem is, Howard just doesn’t give the story or the characters all that much in the way of depth. Everyone exists as surface-level facsimiles of familiar characters, and it’s almost as though someone gave her some bullet points of each character and said “Here, this is all you need.” Thanos is recognizably Thanos, but rather than diving into any meaningful character beats, Howard just has him running around acting like Thanos and doing things we’d expect Thanos to do. Same for Gamora (even though she’s just a young girl). And although it is somewhat interesting to see Ebony Maw and Proxima Midnight before they had fully transformed into the cold and calculating members of the Black Order we know and love today, it’s also off-putting to see them (and the Maw especially) behaving in such petty, sneaky manners that frankly feel as though Howard didn’t bother to research them at all prior to writing them.
And so it goes. The story, such as it is, centers around Thanos’ keen new interest in Gamora and his determination to understand how she was able to see Death. That’s propped up by the Butcher Squadron’s (Howard couldn’t have thought of anything better than that?) transparent attempts to subvert Thanos’ plans for Gamora (even though they don’t quite know what those plans are), and then percolating in the background is Thanos’ war with Magus, which is by far the least interesting subplot. Magus exists as a character with a very specific attachment to Jim Starlin’s classic Adam Warlock tales (from which Thanos far more successfully spins out of), and fulfills a very specific role within those tales. Remove him from that context, and he’s just another dime-a-dozen space villain with funky hair. Presenting him as a threat to Thanos is a transparent attempt to beef up Magus’ profile, but so far, it’s an unconvincing charade.
Compounding this issue’s shortcomings is Ariel Olivetti’s art, which is frankly just plain boring and uninspired. Functionally, it’s at least competent enough to get the job done, but there’s absolutely no spark within it. It reminds me of early-to-mid ’90s Ron Lim art, but without that artist’s distinct visual signatures – competent without being flashy, good enough to get passing grades but not bad enough to stand out for the wrong reasons, either.
After reading this issue, it's hard to understand why this series exists other than to be a quickie cash grab to tie into Avengers: Endgame. Everything about it is so pro forma, I have a hard time imagining anyone other than readers completely new to both the characters and comics will be all that interested in it. And maybe that's the point, maybe it does exist as a lure for new readers - but just because that's your designation, doesn't mean you don't have to aspire for more.
Thanos #2 (of 6): A Toothless Titan
Writing - 4/104/10
Storyline - 4/104/10
Art - 4.5/104.5/10
Color - 5/105/10
Cover Art - 7/107/10
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