AVENGERS VS. THANOS (Marvel, First Printing, 2013; Softcover)
Collects Iron Man #55, Captain Marvel #25-33, Marvel Feature #12, Daredevil #105-107, Avengers #125, Warlock #9-11, 15, Avengers Annual #7, Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, and the Thanos back-up story from Logan's Run #6 (cover dates February, 1973- Annual 1977)
Writers: Jim Starlin, Steve Gerber, Mike Friedrich, Steve Englehart, and Scott Edelman
Artists: Pencilers- Jim Starlin, Bob Brown, John Buscema, Don Heck, and Mike Zeck
Inkers- Jim Starlin, Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Mike Esposito, Dan Green, Klaus Janson, Steve Leialoha, Pablo Marcos, Al Milgrom, Don Perlin, Joe Rubinstein, Joe Sinnott, Chic Stone, Sal Trapani, and Mike Zeck
If space aliens landed and asked me Hey Earthling, could you point out some good superhero comics for us to read?, I would hand them this book. While it would appear on the surface to be a scattershot collection of stories featuring Thanos and a mix of then-present and future Avengers in reality it is surprisingly cohesive and reads like one huge event.
I love the Bronze Age of comics. Modern fans accustomed to made for the trade six issue arcs bemoan the amount of dialogue and third party narrative caption boxes in these old comics but they allow so much more ground to be covered in much less space and time. I am of the mindset that modern comics are padded and bloated, with all of them breath and life sucked out of them in order to fit a calculated page count. Page after page of talking heads are not character development. Superheroes being snarky and self deprecating are not heroic.
Newcomers arriving to comics after seeing the movies would have their minds blown by the scope of this book. It starts out in Iron Man #55, a landmark issue which not only introduces Drax The Destroyer and the Blood Brothers but Thanos as well. Well...flashback Thanos and robot Thanos, but close enough for Rock and Roll. Things get kinda sorta convoluted but fun, as Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) gets caught up in a scheme between the Skrulls, the Controller, and Thanos. Captain Marvel fights the Hulk and the Thing before he encounters Eon, who helps him destroy and then find himself as part of some grand cosmic scheme that eluded me. At least the end justified the means.
Drax The Destroyer and Iron Man reappear, as does the Thing. I enjoyed the Thing and Iron Man's battle with the Blood Brothers. The scene then shifts to San Francisco, where Daredevil and the Black Widow encounter Moondragon and Captain Marvel, leading us back to Captain Marvel's magazine with #31. The Avengers and Drax The Destroyer become involved as Thanos finally absorbs the power of the Cosmic Cube, essentially becoming one with the universe. This could well be the end of the book, as Thanos is defeated (I won't tell you how) and the day is saved.
Fortunately there is more, this time over in Warlock's series. Adam Warlock enters into an uncomfortable alliance with Thanos in order to defeat the Magus after Thanos' creation, Gamora, fails to assassinate him. There is all kinds of Bronze Age philosophy and timeslip psychobabble that works in the context of the era and the material but wouldn't make one iota of sense if you read it here.
The climax is a crossover with Avengers Annual #7 and Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, where Thanos harnesses the power of the Soul Gem and intends to use it to destroy our sun, thus destroying all life in our solar system as an offering to the love of his life, the lady Death. This is Thanos at his most grim and gruesome, a completely evil creature that takes the combined might of The Avengers, Adam Warlock, Spider-Man, and the Thing to defeat. The battle scenes, especially those between Thor and Thanos, are incredible. This is how comics are supposed to be done, kids. Things end with a bang, and by the time that you are done this feels like a major league event, even though it took place across four years' worth of comics.
Jim Starlin pushed the limits of the cosmic epic, all before the world had ever heard of Star Wars. I am sure that Star Trek and 2001: A Space Odyssey were an influence on him but it is cool seeing a science fiction and superhero hybrid done before Star Wars, as the impact of that movie was so severe that nothing that came afterward was the same. His artwork and writing helped elevate the sophistication of comic books during this era. A few embarrassingly adolescent double entendres aside, this is adult stuff without being graphic or lewd.
So if you happen to encounter any space aliens or inter-dimensional travelers and they ask you to point out some good superhero comics, fork over a copy of this book.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.75 out of 5.
The OCD zone- I love these think chunky trade paperbacks. I cannot resist the lure of 400-500 page books with this paper stock.
Linework and Color restoration: Many of these issues use the files from the Marvel Masterworks (Captain Marvel, Warlock, etc.) and are excellent. The rest are very good overall.
Paper stock: Off white matte coated stock. This is the same stock found in softcover Masterworks, Classic line trades, and Epic line trades. It is my favorite paper stock for comics with flat coloring.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.