Sunday, September 6, 2009

Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos by Jim Starlin

As readers from over the summer know, my guilty pleasure of late is an interest in the so-called “cosmic” graphic novels, particularly the ones coming out now as written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, and the modern resurgence in their popularity. Yet, I felt that I should catch up on the story a bit, as these underused characters still have very extensive backstories. An earlier review at Luke Reviews for Annihilation Classic was the beginning of this history lesson, and this long labor day weekend gave me the opportunity to read a few more of the books that were fore-runners to what is out today. Much of these tales revolves around the character Thanos (so much so that these books—Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos, Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, Infinity Crusade Volumes 1 & 2, Infinity Abyss, and Thanos: The End—are collectively known as the Thanos Chronicles), whose story doesn’t begin with the volume in question, but Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos still serves as a solid jumping-on point. Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos contains two main stories, as well as a very short addendum, and thus it will be reviewed on a story by story basis.

Rebirth of Thanos: The Silver Surfer (corny name, interesting character) falls upon the Temple of Death, where Death herself has decided that she needs a new champion. The Surfer gets to witness the rebirth, before being confronted by Death’s newest thrall, Thanos. We learn of Death’s desire to match the number of dead with the number of living, and the acting out of the plan: to kill 50% of all life in the entire universe. Thanos begins this task, and the Silver Surfer must stop him. A well-written, fun tale, with a villain that legitimately claims ecological and ethical reasons for his universe-wide genocide.

The Thanos Quest: After the events of Rebirth of Thanos, Thanos wishes to expedite the process of fulfilling Death’s desire (although the devious villain has more up his sleeve than at first it would seem), and searches out the Infinity Gems. These six precious stones each contain a power of an ancient, god-like entity, and when combined, give the bearer near-absolute power over all of reality. Another interesting tale that continues the trend of a complete, not totally evil villain. Thanos becomes a very human, very easy to relate to being, and his motive for his actions is one that is very easy to rationalize, making his evil even more dark.

The final bit is the short piece “The Final Flower!” which was also contained in Annihilation Classic, so quoting from that review:

“The Final Flower!” by Scott Edelman: A very short tale with a science fictional bend to it at the end, well worth reading. If you changed the names of the main characters, and removed the pictures, this could have worked as a solid science fiction piece in any magazine today.

All-in-all, this was a very fun read. Well worth the time and cost of admission, and a nice primer for the future tales in this universe. Of note: this book’s ending leads directly into Infinity Gauntlet, thus leaving you with a minor cliff-hanger. Be prepared to have Infinity Gauntlet on hand, as you won’t want to have to wait to find out what happens next.


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