Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.
ComiConverse Contributors Mitch Nissen and Sam McCoy have been friends since the late 90’s, when they used to work in the cornfields of the midwest together. Reading comics and watching movies were the foundation of their friendship that has lasted all these years, despite the fact they haven’t lived near one another for years. Mitch was a Marvel guy through and through when Sam came along with his Batman and the rest of the Justice League. Over the years they’ve shared some of their favorite stories with one another. Today, they’re ComiConversing about The Thanos Imperative.
February Reading For Sam:
The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1, The Thanos Imperative #1-6, and The Thanos Imperative: Devastation #1
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Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Art by Miguel Sepulveda and Brad Walker
Mitch’s History With Thanos:
My experiences with Thanos go back to the early 1990’s.
One of my all-time favorite comic book characters has long been the Silver Surfer. Few heroes even come close to matching his power. Then, I saw Thanos slapping Surfer around as if he were a child. I was quite young and impressionable at the time and discovering the world of Marvel Comics. Any character able to mop the floor with the Surfer demanded further attention. Then, the Infinity Gauntlet saga happened and Thanos was forever imprinted on my mind as Marvel’s big baddie. I must admit that Jim Starlin’s writing was a bit beyond me at the time, but Ron Lim and George Perez’s art fascinated me nonetheless.
As I grew older, I began to see how different Thanos was from all the other comic book villains I had read. The first time one reads a Thanos story, it becomes apparent that he isn’t what one would expect from a typical antagonist. He’s not a character one can fully grasp at a glance. With further reading, Thanos becomes a character of intelligence, introspection, and complexity. It was his raw power that captivated me as a child and his depth of character that endears him to me as an adult.
Through characters like Thanos and the Silver Surfer, I have come to know and love the cosmic side of the Marvel universe. I’ve dug in deep and acquired a taste for nearly all of Marvel’s outer space heroes and villains. I’m a character devotee as opposed to a creative team follower. But occasionally a writer will ensnare me. Two such writers are Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Through the stories of Annihilation, Nova, and Guardians of the Galaxy the writing duo DnA have made a lifelong fan out of me. Through their writing I can see that they are as big of fans of the cosmic heroes as I am. The Thanos Imperative is the culmination of their work from 2006 through 2011 and, in my opinion, is the ultimate gesture of love for the Marvel cosmic universe.
I know Sam McCoy to be a stout DC Comics fan, but he also shares his love with a select group of Marvel characters, a few of which travel in the cosmic circles. Even with DC Comics, I rarely if ever hear him speak of the outer space heroes and villains. Sam does have a fathomless love for Superman and sometimes Supes’ stories go cosmic. Plus, Sam loves Star Wars, so I know he has the capacity to enjoy outer space epics.
The question is: Will he enjoy this one?
If there’s one thing the cosmic universe has taught me it’s that anything is possible.
Sam’s History With Thanos:
My history with Thanos is pretty minimal. I pretty much know Thanos best from his minor appearances in some of the Marvel movies. Thanos was never a character that was much in stuff I’ve read. My Marvel readings have usually been the X-Men, Captain America, Daredevil and Spider-Man when I was younger and he rarely, if ever, appeared in those books. I had read the Marvel event Infinity from a few years ago and wasn’t the biggest fan. I also read the Annihilation trades and while I thought it was okay, I wasn’t blown away with it like I know Mitch was.
We’ve had lots of discussions in the past and I admit I’ve never given Thanos much thought because I’ve always thought of him as a watered down Darkseid and it’s just a thought I’ve never been able to shake. Perhaps after reading this my opinion will change.
We ComiConverse on Thanos:
Sam: My feelings on the Thanos Imperative were kind of mixed. I felt like I had very much read this kind of thing before as it’s definitely in similar veins to other space epics the “Big 2” have put out before. And I’d just like to clarify that Mitch states that I’ve never talked about the space characters much but I’m a longtime fan and reader of Green Lantern going back to the days of Kyle Rayner when I was beginning my fandom of comics. In fact from roughly 2006-2011 my favorite books coming out monthly were Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps (which was always criminally underrated).
With that being said, the Thanos Imperative was okay. I realize that this was a part of the space saga that Abnett and Lanning had been writing that had begun in Annihilation (which I had read) and I had read the first volume of Annihilation: Conquest but had lost interest and never really got around to volume 2. That being said I thought this felt like a good way to kind of end this kind of saga and felt that it actually could have been fleshed out a bit further as some of it seemed to be rather truncated and could have been expanded upon. I really responded to the story of the future Annihilators with Silver Surfer, Beta Ray Bill, Quasar, Ronan and Gladiator. The stuff with Star-Lord, Nova and Thanos wasn’t as interesting to me.
Mitch: What were some of the strengths of the story?
Sam: I guess I’d say some of the character interactions.
Mitch: What were some of the story’s weaknesses?
Sam: I felt like I had read this before. This definitely has the feeling of a lot of event comics I’ve read before going back to the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. For some reason I felt an Infinite Crisis vibe too but I’m not sure why. Some Sinestro Corps War stuff too. And obviously Infinity Gauntlet and what I read of Infinity War. I’d be lying if I said that I liked the Revengers. Something about them I just can’t get into.
Mitch: What was it about the Star-Lord, Nova, and Thanos aspect of the story that was difficult to engage with? And what about the writing did you find difficult to connect with?
Sam: First off from Annihilation the character that I liked was Richard Ryder and that was true in this case. But I do feel like some of the Nova stuff here I had read before especially back when Kyle was the only Green Lantern. I think the Thanos stuff for me is that I just don’t care for his mythology and find it almost too simple to be engaging. I get his love with Death but it seems there should be more to it. I just have such a tough time engaging in any of it.
Mitch: How about the art?
Sam: I thought the art in the Ignition one shot was fantastic. For the actual mini, pretty much what I was expecting from a space book.
Mitch: What was it you were expecting?
Sam: It’s the kind of space style that both Marvel and DC do a lot. It wasn’t anything overly fantastic like a Doug Manhke or Ivan Reis but it was perfectly serviceable. I felt it was very much inspired by Alan Davis which is a great thing.
Mitch: During this time period both DC and Marvel’s cosmic titles were high in popularity. Having read a little bit of both what would you say differentiates the two?
Sam: Let’s not dismiss me, I’ve read a lot of the DC cosmic stuff from this era. In my opinion DC was about evolving what they had into some new things and new eras and creating some cool new stories and characters. Marvel was about taking all these things they already had but finally making good use of them after years of inactivity.
Mitch: Any final thoughts about The Thanos Imperative?
Anything about it you’d recommend or urge readers to avoid?
Sam: I would say it’s way better than the Infinity Gauntlet and there is some fun stuff in it. I really liked the relationship with Quasar and Richard Ryder and that was something that I was not expecting.
I will say that I have read the issues of Guardians of the Galaxy that deal with this during the Original Sin event with some tie-in issues.
Mitch: That would be from Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3 written by Brian Bendis and penciled by Ed McGuiness. What did you think of those?
Sam: I thought they were okay. I liked the art. I think it is indicative of a lot of the issues that GotG had with that volume is that it was interrupted by crossovers all the time, often being a hindrance. And in that case during a story I was getting into.
Mitch: Anything else you’d like to add?
Sam: I do have one last thing I wanted to add on Thanos Imperative. Jack Flag, how did he get involved?
Mitch: That ties into Civil War and the Initiative. He was one of the heroes apprehended by the Thunderbolts during Warren Ellis’s run. He was imprisoned in the Negative Zone. Blastaar, the then king of the Negative Zone, tried to infiltrate our universe through the prison and the Guardians of the Galaxy stopped him. Jack Flag helped the Guardians put down the attack and they recruited him afterwards. And healed his paralysis.
Sam: That’s why I’m asking. The Ellis Thunderbolts is in my top three Marvel runs of all-time and I was pretty pissed to see Jack walking around.
Mitch: The way DnA wrote him into the Guardians of the Galaxy was pretty ingenious. He’s the voice on the team who constantly says how ridiculous the situations are and how much he hates cosmic stuff.
Sam: It took away from Bullseye so I can’t approve.
Mitch: Fair enough.
Well, it appears as if my aim was off this month. Greatly preferring DC’s cosmic counterparts, it looks as if Sam didn’t hate The Thanos Imperative but was still far from liking it, citing some of the character interactions as the only positives. His impression of Thanos doesn’t appear to have been effected nor his feelings toward the Marvel cosmic heroes.
I take that back. His feelings seemed to have worsened at the last second upon seeing super hero Jack Flag up and walking around, saving the universe alongside the Guardians of the Galaxy.
I should’ve stopped after the Guardians of the Galaxy; Original Sin tie-ins.
Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Sam interviewing me, the Marvel fan, about DC’s Green Arrow by Kevin Smith and Phil Hester!
And be on the lookout next month for another ComiConverse from Sam and Mitch.
Sam McCoy is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @realcactussam
Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow us on Twitter: @ComiConverse