‘Thanos Annual’ explores the complex nature of Marvel’s Mad Titan

(CBR) The Marvel Universe is home to ancient gods, powerful sorcerers and destructive cosmic entities, a population which has inflicted horrific and cataclysmic events on less powerful beings since the beginning of time. But if you look at its recent history, you'll see that many of these modern day apocalyptic events have been perpetrated by a sole being: Thanos, a mutated member of the powerful alien race known as the Eternals.

Over the years, Thanos has perpetrated such horrors as murdering the populace of his home world, using the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half the living beings in the universe and, most recently during the “Infinity” event, the invasion and sacking of the Earth. A complex being, Thanos has also stepped forward to save the universe from destruction on a number of occasions. So what happens when the Mad Titan is taken on a tour of his past, present and possible futures? What will he see? And how will that impact him? Creator Jim Starlin and artist Ron Lim, who penciled some of the Mad Titan's most memorable stories, promise to answer those questions and more in May's “Thanos Annual,” a prequel to Starlin's 2014 original graphic novel, “Thanos: The Infinity Revelation.”

CBR News: The last time we spoke, you mentioned that you were working on three different Thanos projects. Now that we know what two of those projects are, I'm curious: Which one did you write first, “Thanos: The Infinity Revelation” or the “Thanos Annual?”

Jim Starlin: “The Infinity Revelation,” actually. Let me explain how this all came about: Marvel and I hadn't work worked together for a long while, but we came to terms on a number of things. The first project was “The Infinity Revelation,” which I was originally just going to write. Mark Bagley was going to draw it, but his schedule and Marvel's schedule couldn't sync up on that. So I stepped in. When I was about halfway through penciling that project, they said, “We'd like to do a 'Thanos Annual' — would you like to write that?”

I started thinking about it and they said because it's so complicated with what's going on with Thanos elsewhere, they'd like to do a story involving his past. I had been considering a long term project with Thanos, and this seemed like an excellent opportunity to do sort of a prelude to both the graphic novel and the longer term story that I would like to tell with the character.

I started setting up a little bit of what's going to happen in the future inside this story that takes place in Thanos' past. Along with everything, there's revelations concerning the entire Marvel Universe.

“Thanos Annual” reunites you with Ron Lim, who drew your “Infinity Trilogy” — “The Infinity Gauntlet,” “The Infinity War” and “The Infinity Crusade.” How does it feel to be back working with Ron? What do you feel he brings to this story and the character of Thanos?

I've always been very comfortable with Ron's interpretation of Thanos. Some artists have drawn him so far afield from how I envision the Titan that it just didn't feel like the same character. Ron doesn't draw Thanos exactly like I do, but he draws him in the spirit of how I do.