Thanos Rising by Jason Aaron (Graphic Novel Review)

Jason Aaron is, without a doubt, one of the best comics writers in the industry right now. He’s taken Thor: God of Thunder to stratospheric levels with his excellent writing and with the recent launch of the Thanos Rising mini-series, he was all set to continue that trend. He’s done some other work for Marvel before, and continues to do so, but really, its only his space opera styled stuff that I’ve read and he’s made me into enough of a fan that I’d follow him from book to book, no questions asked.

Which reminds me, I need to get a start on his Wolverine and the X-Men run at some point

Either way, with Thanos being such a central character to Marvel’s cosmic setting, I had some initial reservations on how Jason would deliver. And that’s nothing on his skills as a writer. Its just that Thanos is so much larger than life that there undoubtedly will be reservations. But an in-form Jason makes all these worries go away.

Note: This is a review for the Thanos Rising mini-series, which is 5-issues long. I’ve read the issues individually, rather than reading the graphic novel, which won’t be out for a few months yet.

Thanos Rising 01

In lieu of an actual cover for the graphic novel available, I’m using the one for #1.

Marvel was teasing this book for a long time until they finally got their act together and made the final announcements that writer Jason Aaron and artist Simone Bianchi would be headlining this mini-series. I’ve been excited about the whole thing ever since I found out about it earlier this year, and it really peaked my interest. As I said above, I love the character and he is one of the most iconic figures in Marvel’s cosmic lore. I first saw the character in the Silver Surfer animated series, and was immediately taken in by the character. So much so that last year I started reading Jim Starlin’s classic stuff, starting with the first book of the Infinity Saga, Thanos Quest, which was mind-blowing, to be frank. A great “classic feel” and a well-executed and well-realised character who just leaped off the pages.

The first couple issues in the series are somewhat disappointing, within the context of the potential, the promise and the excitement I had for this book. Jason Aaron starts off with some really normal visuals of the character, showing him as child on Titan and then going on for him to do some pretty horrific deeds. It is quite clear that this early on, Jason is struggling a bit to hit the right beats with the character and that he is still getting comfortable writing Thanos and all his craziness.

Issue #3 is where things start to turn around the better and continue on rather explosively with issue #4, which I think is the highpoint of the entire series so far. These two issues are where Jason started to develop the Thanos that I could really get behind. He was a murdering psychopath now, instead of just being a kid who got bullied at school (literally). Some of the revelations that happen here, particularly in the latter issue, were handled tastefully and with some flair. The big twist is kind of choreographed earlier on, but Jason nevertheless pulls it all off really well.

And now with issue #5, this series comes to a close, and Thanos is going to move beyond the pages of this comic to a full-on starring role in the Infinity event series, which is going to (or is doing rather). The middle of the issue is a little too dragged out, but really, this was a great ending. I had some reservations about how Jason would end this, given how it all started out, but I have to say that the issue really did work out to be pretty good. The ending is a classic case of Thanos being forever the way he is, how we remember him from his old days.

The art throughout is courtesy of penciller Simone Bianchi, colourists Simone Peruzzi and Ive Svorcina, inker Riccardo Pieruccini, and, letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles. The general tone of the artwork is dark and serious and often with some amount of morbid humour. Not the most easy of comics to draw really, I don’t think. But the artists all rise to the challenge. I didn’t like Thanos’ look all that much within the pages here, but all the same, these guys really get everything down just right to make this into one of the most well-drawn Marvel comics I’ve read. Really, its no different than the fantastic job that the guys over on Jason’s Thor: God of Thunder are doing. The visions of death really are sublime in #4, which marked the visual high-point of this series, in addition to being a right cracking issue. There are some inconsistencies in #5, or so they seemed, so the series doesn’t end with the bang as I expected.

But really, this series so far has been fantastic. It even got me to pick up Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity #1, which is the first of six issues in this event mini-series and is a culmination of some 2 years’ worth of comics across several different titles. So a win-win for both Aaron and Marvel then. And the artists as well.

I highly encourage you to check out this book.

Rating: 8.5/10

Posted on August 29, 2013, in 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Writing Challenge, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Looks good. May have to keep my eyes peeled for this one.

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  2. Thanks for reviewing this! I dropped the book from disinterest at issue 3, but you got me interested enough to pick up the last two issues and I’m glad I did. The ending is an awesome twist on the Thanos/Death relationship, and fits in well with where DnA took the character in his last major appearance.

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