Marvel Movie News

Ted Cruz Gets ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Thanos Right

Ted Cruz echoes my own thoughts on Thanos in The Avengers: Endgame, as the senator from Texas compares the Mad Titan to left-wing radical environmentalists. In a recent interview, Cruz offered that the left has no problem obliterating jobs and people’s lives, much like what Thanos did in Infinity War and The Avengers: Endgame, and much

Comic Book News Marvel

Review: Thanos Rising #4

It’s faint praise, but this is the best and most tolerable issue of this series thus far. I wasn’t left wanting to throw it against the wall in disgust. That’s really the best I can say about it.

That being said, simply put – this storyline will make you disrespect Thanos in nearly every way. Whereas before Thanos has been written as a cunning, powerful “magnificent bastard” with a poorly explained death fetish (that most writers have wisely left only cursorily explored), this series portrays Thanos as a despicable psychotic bully who tortures and murders his family of origin, wives, children, and random strangers in a twisted and muddled attempt to win the sexual affections of what may or may not be a paranoid hallucination of the avatar of “Death.”

This attempt to psychoanalyze Thanos succeeds so well that it actually weakens the character. One is left with a mixture of disgust and pity for the character rather than the begrudging respect he has earned in past iterations. One is left rooting for this character to be somehow put out of his (and our) misery for good rather than somehow surviving to vex our favorite heroes another day. Before this series I had a begrudging like for Thanos; now I can barely stand to look at his depiction.

This is not how Thanos should be written, and it is very poor preparation for the upcoming movies featuring him as the lead villain. I just shake my head is disgust and bafflement at the decisions Marvel Editorial is making in regard to cosmic. It really was better when the “architects” were ignoring cosmic and relegating cosmic to the fringe of the Marvel Universe. At least that allowed great writers (e.g. Starlin, Giffen, DnA) to do great and innovative things with the cosmic characters. This attempt to mainstream cosmic and increase sales by appealing to the lowest common denominator of comic book reader (e.g. Avengers buyers) has only resulted in abject mediocrity in storylines (e.g., Loeb’s NINO; Aaron’s Thanos; Bendis’ GotG) and mischaracterization of beloved cosmic characters (e.g., Bendis’ GotG; Aaron’s Thanos) rendered by writers who would be best left writing stories about Earthbound superheroes running around Long Island.

The art and colors are certainly respectable, but they’re not so impressive that they can save this mini-series. I will be very glad when this series is over and mercifully forgotten. It’s just trying too hard to be a cosmic version of Dexter. I know there’s a small group of Thanos fans. My sympathies to you as this series must be difficult for you to tolerate.

Comic Book News Marvel

Thanos Rising #2 Review

It is a crying damned shame what’s being done to cosmic in the vain pursuit of mass market appeal. Well – mass comic book reader appeal to be more precise. Loeb has turned Nova (in name only) into a child-oriented teen Spiderman clone, Bendis has turned Guardians of the Galaxy into an Earth-centric Avengers-like book re-characterizing Star- Lord et al into clichéd and unrecognizable caricatures of their former glorious selves, and now Aaron is apparently turning Thanos into an utterly disgusting run-of-the-mill psychotic serial killer – a Dexter with none of the cleverness or appeal of Dexter. And it’s not even working to attain the desired sales figures – so cosmic is being run into the ground for no reason other than the vanity of Loeb, Bendis, and the other “architects.” Like I said – a crying damned shame.

In the previous issue, Thanos was portrayed as a weird, un-likeable, pitiable little kid manipulated by Death into starting down the pathway toward becoming her avatar. In this issue, that excruciating process continues with Thanos being portrayed as a cruel, callous, brilliant, but psychotic little jerk taking pleasure from the tortured screams of his animal and Eternal victims as he vivisects them over the course of several hours and then whines about how nobody loves him. Death is constantly at his side, flirting with him and using his sexual attraction to her to encourage his sick pursuits while at the same time spurning all his overt sexual advances – an apparent attempt by the writer to explain Thanos’ death fetish. A terribly sexually frustrated Thanos even threatens to rape Death – but Death stops him cold – humiliating him, browbeating him, and otherwise psychologically castrating him as she urges him to kill again and again. Yeah – that Death is a real evil bitch. The torturing of innocents throughout this book was hard to tolerate, but the final scene of this book where Thanos begins vivisecting his helpless psychotic mother so disgusted me that I honestly don’t know if I can pick up and read another issue of this train wreck.

Now you all know that I like edgy, adult-oriented comic books, and I can even enjoy knife-kill horror stories such as Seely’s excellent and recently sadly ended Hack/Slash series, but this Thanos Rising series is pushing the boundaries in a bad way. If the writer was trying to evoke an emotionally unsettling response, he certainly succeeded – but not in such as way as to motivate me to continue buying the book. There is literally no joy to this book and that makes it a tough read. Plus – it sullies the appeal of Thanos as a villain – making him unrespectable, creepy, and disgusting (like the child murderer he’s being portrayed as) rather than how he ALWAYS SHOULD BE PORTAYED – as a force to be reckoned with.

I get it that Thanos is a tough character to write – full of inconsistencies and contradictions. This storyline is not the way to resolve the inconsistencies and contradictions. It would’ve been better to just deal with them the old fashioned way: don’t think about them too much and write a good adventure story. There is no logic or reason to Thanos’ craziness. That’s why crazy is called crazy and Thanos is called “The MAD Titan.” This attempt to impose a dark psychological background story onto Thanos to explain his madness just feels wrong and stands in stark contrast to the best Thanos stories told to date.

Giffen’s excellent Thanos series was the best portrayal of Thanos since Starlin’s early work with the character. In Giffen’s series, I could begrudgingly like and respect the brilliant magnificent bastard that was Thanos at the same time I was disliking him and hoping he would ultimately fail – all while blithely ignoring every logical contradiction inherent in the character. Now THAT’s the Thanos I want to read. This Thanos Rising portrayal of a confused, easily manipulated, sexually frustrated, psychotic, cruel, sick, whiny little jerk preying on helpless innocents? Nah – I don’t want to read this – I just want to see the Eternals put him out of his misery medieval style and as soon as possible.

The art and coloring of this book are certainly adequate to good, but they are not enough to save it.

Basically, this book is an embarrassment to the Thanos mythology. I don’t see how this is going to make a whole bunch of new Thanos fans eager to see him on the big screen for the second Avengers movie. In fact, the opposite is more likely. Frankly, I’ll be glad when this mini is over and (hopefully) forgotten as it is just one more black eye to cosmic courtesy of the architects.

What a shame.

Review: Thanos Rising #1
Comic Book News Marvel

Thanos Rising #1 Review

I had high hopes for this one, but sadly the re-launch of Marvel Cosmic continues to under-whelm and disappoint.

That being said, origin stories are difficult and Jason Aaron has chosen a particularly difficult origin story – that of Thanos the Mad Titan – a character literally filled with contradictions. He seems to be trying to make the character more accessible to the typical non-cosmic-fan comic book reader – and like Loeb’s re-launch of Nova and Bendis’ re-launch of Guardians of the Galaxy – the story and character suffer due to that effort.

Thanos was born to Mentor and Sui-San – Eternals of Titan; Thanos carries the Deviant gene and his appearance is more akin to that of Deviants than that of Eternals. He has never exhibited the Deviant ability to shape-shift. As an adult, Thanos has historically been portrayed as a tactical, scientific, and mystical genius who has boosted his natural powers as an Eternal with bionic implants and sorcery. Thanos has historically been portrayed as having what can best be described as a “death fetish” – being literally in love with the Marvel “abstract character,” Death, and going to extraordinary lengths to please her by sacrificing enormous numbers of lives to her. However, Death has nearly always been a bitch – rejecting almost all of Thanos’ advances.

Why wouldn’t he just kill himself to be with Death you ask? Well – he has occasionally – and in my opinion best been portrayed as wanting to die but unable to die due to his Eternal heritage or, most recently as portrayed in The Thanos Imperative, being the chosen Avatar of Death. His driving force in this portrayal is inability to completely fulfill his death fetish by killing himself to physically be with death, so doing the next best thing and killing others to please Death in the hope that in pleasing her his love for her will eventually cease to be unrequited. If I don’t think about it too much, I can buy that as a motivation – and both Giffen and DnA wrote some fantastic Thanos stories with Thanos being portrayed as a “Magnificent Bastard” with just such underlying dark motivations.

In contrast, Aaron has chosen to portray Thanos as born to a rejecting mother who wants to kill him and is driven insane in being prevented from doing so, and to an absent and neglectful father. Thanos as a child is shown to be bookish, nerdy, and socially awkward. Refreshingly, he is not bullied by the other Eternal children – but is instead shown acceptance and kindness despite his appearance and social awkwardness. Thanos is initially kind to animals and becomes nauseated when dissecting one in school. Then, at the behest of a character that is just suddenly dropped into the story (and who is apparently Death), he is involved in a terrible accident where several of his friends – including the girl he has a crush on – die and are eaten by animals. Thanos survives and is wracked by survivor guilt which Death capitalizes upon, misdirects to rage, and then focuses on the unfortunate animals which ate Thanos’ friends. Thanos then cruelly knife-kills all the animals while Death stands in admiration of his cruelty.

Wow. I can see how this psychological pseudo-drama will appeal to the non-cosmic-fan who has little knowledge of Thanos other than his occasional tussle with The Avengers. As a cosmic fan, I’m a bit perturbed by all the inconsistencies with continuity – both with Thanos in particular and with the Titanian Eternals in general.

In Aaron’s interpretation, Thanos is basically a nerd turned into a typical sociopath by bad parenting and the direct manipulation of the abstract character, Death. At this point, Thanos is neither a compelling nor a sympathetic character. He’s just an enormous bore who is being manipulated. That makes it hard for me to see how he becomes a threat to the universe.

The art and coloring are certainly respectable, but lack the crispness and definition that are the only saving graces of Marvel’s other two “pseudo-cosmic” titles.

All-in-all, unless this title saves itself in upcoming issues, it stands as yet another example of the decline in Marvel Cosmic from its most recent height late in the last decade.

Comic Book News Marvel

Guardians of the Galaxy #25 Review


Written by: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning

Artist: Brad Walker

Colorist: Wil Quintana

Cover Artist: Alex Garner

Warning: Contains Spoilers

Some recent comics have limped out of existence with a whimper – Ms. Marvel and She-Hulk come to mind – but, if issue #25 of Guardians of the Galaxy is indeed the last issue of this fine series, it can be said that it went out in style, proudly and with head held high as the class act that it is, always has been, and always will be in comicdom’s halls of history.

Master writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning deliver a tour-de-force of cosmic comics entertainment as they tie up all the dangling plot threads from Issue #1 to present. We learn that our beloved 616 Universe Guardians literally stand at the epicenter of all time and all quantum realities – with everything – and I do mean everything depending on their actions or lack thereof. An overwhelming responsibility – and one they are perhaps thankfully unaware they possess.

The story proceeds at breakneck speed with our intrepid heroes ultimately triumphing over a resurrected Thanos – or, like their seeming victory over The Magus a few issues back – is everything exactly as it seems? I suppose that – and the ultimate fate of Phyla – remains to be seen in the upcoming Thanos Imperative.

I am consistently impressed with DnA’s ability to so skillfully handle the characterization of such a large ensemble – making each character unique and interesting both as an individual and as part of an interacting cast. Whether it’s Rocket comforting a stricken Groot, Drax and Gamora figuring out how to attack Thanos, or Rocket and Peter sitting next to each other at Starlin’s Bar and quietly summing things up over a “DnA Cosmic Ale” bottle of beer – the strength and consistent high quality of Guardians of the Galaxy has always been centered on the interplay among the characters.

Brad Walker’s art is amazing. I’m really glad he drew this extraordinarily important issue. He’s taken this book and given it a signature look and feel. If Guardians of the Galaxy does come back from Hiatus Hel; please Marvel – make Brad Walker the regular artist for this book. Quintana’s colors perfectly capture the dark mood of this issue. Garner once again produces a truly impressive piece of cover art – perfectly capturing the awe and menacing majesty of The Mad Titan. I look forward to seeing more of Garner’s work.

As I have been writing this review, I found myself struck with a feeling somewhat akin to the feeling one experiences at the end of a romance when considering all the sweet ‘might have beens’ that now, regretfully, will never be. I can’t help but think that there are still a lot of fine stories to tell of this motley crew’s adventures – and I can’t help but be sad at the thought that we may never hear those stories. I know from various personal communications that others feel exactly the same way. Let us hope that our sadness is unfounded.

In closing, I would like to thank Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning for re-vitalizing Marvel’s Cosmic line and bringing us cosmic fans 25 wonderful issues of Guardians of the Galaxy. Guys – you gave us an unforgettable set of stories and a magnificent series that will be held in the utmost esteem by generations of cosmic fans. You took a bunch of dimly remembered cosmic characters from the past, breathed new life into them, and made us care about them. Cosmic comics literally don’t get any better than your Guardians of the Galaxy.

I’d like to thank Brad Walker for bringing his extraordinary artistic talent to the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy. Brad – your work is amazing and I look forward to seeing what you’ll be doing for Marvel next. Thanks to Wil Quintana for your consistent masterful coloring. Thanks to all the other artists and colorists who have contributed to this wonderful series.

I’d like to thank Bill Rosemann for his editorial work on this series and for his support of and kindness to the cosmic fans. Likewise, thanks to Joe Quesada for taking a chance on the Cosmic line in general and this series in particular. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have had 25 wonderful issues to enjoy.

It has been my extraordinary privilege to share my thoughts on Marvel’s cosmic brand line with CBN’s readership each month and an extraordinary honor to have Marvel quote some of my GotG reviews in a few solicits. I would like to thank CBN Editor-in-Chief, Matt McGloin, for giving me the opportunity to write for CBN.

Finally, I’d like to thank the legion of loyal GotG fans who have stuck with the series from beginning to hiatus. You guys and gals are the greatest and I’ve appreciated all the comments and enjoyed the good natured debates in which we’ve engaged over the run of this series.

So, let’s keep Star-Lord’s dream alive by buying The Thanos Imperative as the most important lobbying effort we can make is voting with our dollars. If TI does well financially, we may well see Star-Lord and company back for more cosmic adventures.

Rating: Five Stars

Article by: Bill Meneese

Comic Book News Marvel

Guardians of the Galaxy #23 Review


COVER BY: Alex Garner
WRITERS: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
INKER: Serge LaPointe
COLORIST: Nathan Fairbairn
LETTERRE: VC’s Joe Caramagna

Warning: Contains Spoilers


Phenomenal. Absolutely, astoundingly phenomenal. With issue #23 of Guardians of the Galaxy, Abnett and Lanning prove once again why they are the Megalords of Cosmic Comics.

In a recent interview, I said that one of the reasons that Guardians of the Galaxy is consistently among the best comics on the shelves is that it avoids delving too deeply into standard superhero fare – instead focusing on epic science-fiction/fantasy concepts and storylines. Rather than re-treading the superhero concepts and storylines we’ve seen countless times before; Guardians of the Galaxy brings new twists and turns to the table. Never is that more evident than in issue #23.

DnA’s superb writing captivated me from the first page to the last page. Magus was written as insanely menacing – approaching “over the top” – but never actually going over the top and becoming a caricaturish villain. I liked it that he seemed to be genuinely impressed by the Guardians as foes who could actually stop him. That says something impressive about our heroes.

I’m not exactly sure how Phyla’s portion of the team was re-animated. Was it the power of belief resurrecting them or were new bodies created from belief for their souls to inhabit? Were they ever really dead in the first place? It wasn’t clear to me. This might be the weakest part of the storyline; but I was so happy to see them back I didn’t even care how it happened.

Magus’ psychological torture of Phyla was quite revealing of her inner struggles and conflicts – the selfsame struggles and conflicts fans have speculated about for quite some time. This torture sequence actually makes Phyla a more interesting and sympathetic character – bringing her some much needed character development and giving her a chance to shine as a heroine. I’ve always had mixed feelings about Phyla; but after this issue’s developments I’m beginning to become a fan of the character.

I was especially pleased to see the #1 fan favorite canine back in action. Cosmo fans are rejoicing! I hope we get to see some Cosmo-centric stories in the future because he is the next character just aching for some character development time.

Starlord’s team did security duty for the re-constituted Galactic Council. DnA made even this seemingly mundane task for our heroes into something interesting – with cameo appearances by some fan favorite characters as well as inclusion of some topical content regarding terrorism.

All-in-all this throw down with the Magus is shaping up to something that will likely make the Infinity Gauntlet saga look like a cake walk.

Just about everyone – myself included – acknowledges that Wes Craig is a skilled artist and I have to say that in this issue Craig delivers his best work yet on the series. The real debate is about artistic style. In other words, is Craig’s style a good fit for this particular book? Some fans think it is – and others think it isn’t. I think this issue’s art will create a much needed middle ground about the issue.

I’ve seen Craig’s style called impressionistic, abstract-tending, manga-influenced, and cartoonish – all with fans passionately debating what particular label is most accurate. Whatever you call his style – it certainly isn’t photo-realistic – the style that the majority of the fans seem to prefer if the feedback on the forums is any indicator. I personally prefer the photo-realistic style for a book that is telling serious, dramatic, epic, galaxy shaking stories. I think the more abstract style detracts from the gravitas of the storyline.

Fairbairn’s colors are well done as usual. Garner’s cover art is nothing short of astounding. I think it might be the best portrait of The Magus ever rendered. Thank you Mr. Garner. I’d like to see what you could do with some interior art for the book.

It almost – no, I won’t soft peddle this – it does make me angry that more people aren’t reading this top of the line book. It is a travesty that this book sells only 22K or so per month. Comics fans need to broaden their horizons, break out of the routine, and pick up something new and fresh. Guardians of the Galaxy is a veritable feast of new and fresh. Won’t you pull a chair up to the table?

Article by: Bill Meneese

Please enable JavaScript in your browser.