This May, Thanos’ creator Jim Starlin is taking the Mad Titan back to the battleground of his first-ever defeat to begin to piece together his next major gambit. In Thanos Annual #1, Starlin will reteam with his Infinity Gauntlet collaborator Ron Lim for a story that goes into the past – all the way back to 1974’s Captain Marvel #33 – and into Thanos’ future and our own. Along the way readers will witness Thanos’ first meeting with the demonic trickster Mephisto, and plum the depths of the Mad Titan in Starlin’s signature cosmic style.
Thanos Annual #1 will act as the prequel to this fall’s Thanos: The Infinity Revelation graphic novel coinciding with the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, and will be the first steps in a march towards what Starlin promises is a major event in the Marvel Universe.
Newsarama: Jim, what can you tell us about the story of Thanos Annual #1?
Jim Starlin: It takes place at the end of Captain Marvel #33 from back in 1974, where he shatters the Cosmic Cube and Thanos is handed his first defeat, ever. Thanos Annual #1 is about what happens when the Cosmic Cube - and Thanos' hopes - get blown away, and reveals the first meeting between him and Mephisto. In this meeting, a mysterious third party comes in which expands out the story further and reveals more of what is going to occur with Thanos and the Marvel Universe in the future.
Nrama: So it's set in the past, and according to the solicitations for Thanos Annual #1 Thanos will meet "his future self." Can you speak on that at all?
Starlin: That's not exactly right. If I said anything more I'd ruin it, however.
Nrama: I'll give you that. Let's get back to what seems to be the primary characters of this - Thanos and Mephisto. They've had a complicated past together, but that's still in their future in this flashback story. How would you describe their views on each other coming into this first meeting?
Starlin: Mephisto is the ultimate user, so he's approaching Thanos to see how he can take advantage of him. Thanos has just been handed his first defeat, and he's shattered by the experience. He's participating in this as a stunned observer.
Nrama: This is the second major project you're doing with Marvel after Thanos: The Infinity Revelation, although this Thanos Annual #1 is planned to come out first. How do they tie together?
Starlin: When I first sat down to write it, I thought they'd be coming out around the same time. But as I understand it Thanos: The Infinity Revelation comes out in August and Thanos Annual #1 comes out before it, in May. Either way, Thanos Annual #1 is a prequel to the graphic novel and they both lead into a bigger cosmic story we have planned involving Thanos and the entire Marvel Universe.
Nrama: In the grand "Infinity" tradition. And working with you on this is artist Ron Lim, who worked on the majority of the previous "Infinity" miniseries and even worked with you before that on Silver Surfer and the Thanos ongoing series. Marvel have a host of artists in their rolodex they could have called on - what does having Ron with you once more - and with Thanos, on less - mean for you?
Starlin: It's really good to have Ron here, but he was not the original artist. Mark Bagley was supposed to draw both the Thanos Annual #1 and the Thanos: The Infinity Revelation graphic novel, but his scheduling with Marvel didn't allow for it. As you know, it ended up being me drawing the graphic novel and Ron drawing the annual.
It turned out well, as working with Ron is always a pleasure; he has a sense of storytelling that's very close to what I do, and when I give him a script his visual are almost always what I would have done myself - or better.
Nrama: Speaking of history, this Thanos Annual #1 ties back to the culmination of your Captain Marvel run back in 1974. Is this a story that's always been floating around in your head, or did it come about more recently as a result of this renewed relationship with Marvel?
Starlin: More recent. Originally I was going to go directly into that other project I want to do down the line, but because of some of the mechanics at Marvel they approached me to do something else first. So we settled on a story that took place in the past for Thanos. I'm not sure what the reason was, but it fell into place for me with Thanos: The Infinity Revelation. Doing Thanos Annual #1 offered me a chance to foreshadow events in the graphic novel.
Nrama: Last question Jim. Back in December you told us you were working on 3 projects for Marvel - Thanos: The Infinity Revelation being the first announced, and Thanos Annual #1 assumedly being the second. Can you give us any kind of idea of what the third would be?
Starlin: I'm penciling it, and it too is a prequel. It won't be coming out until after these two books, but it's a prequel to Thanos: The Infinity Revelation and readers can look for someone big and green to be in it.