Jim Starlin is returning to space and returning to the world of Thanos.
Newsarama exclusively reported Monday afternoon that writer/artist Jim Starlin is returning to Marvel and returning to the character he created, Thanos, in a 2014 original graphic novel Thanos: The Infinity Revelation. Revelation - which the creator has been teasing on his Facebook pages for months - will be the fifth in his line of “Infinity” stories at Marvel, which began with 1991’s seminal crossover Infinity Gauntlet. Now 23 years later and with Thanos positioned as the biggest of big bads in Marvel’s movie universe, Starlin is coming back to continue his tales of the Mad Titan.
Starlin tells Newsarama that Thanos: The Infinity Revelation finds the so-called Avatar of Death on the precipice of a universe-wide catastrophe caused by Thanos himself. Rarely seen major cosmic forces such as Eternity, Infinity and the Living Tribunal come onto the scene to witness this universe-ending threat, and Thanos finds himself working with the man he once killed but might be his only friend, Adam Warlock.
Starlin promises that Thanos will visit many of the brightest stars in Marvel’s cosmic gallery, from Silver Surfer to the Guardians of the Galaxy and even the cosmic super-team the Annihilators as tries to fight what Starlin calls impending “universal change.” We had a chance to speak to the creator about the project in advance of Monday's announcement.
Newsarama: Jim, what can you tell readers about Thanos: The Infinity Revelation?
Jim Starlin: It’s 100 pages long and I’m both writing and penciling it. It’s inked by Andy Smith, who’s doing a beautiful job; I just got 10 more pages from him. And it’s colored by Frank D’Armata.
And it’s the story of undefined obsession and the end results of that obsession cause a catastrophe. After all, they call Thanos the Mad Titan --- even Adam Warlock, the closest thing Thanos has to a friend, trying to hold things together.
Nrama: What was the impetus for you working with Marvel on this new graphic novel?
Starlin: I guess it’s no surprise that it came about due to the ending of the Avengers movie and the surprise appearance of Thanos. Basically it was an opportunity, with some help from Walt Simonson, to work out some differences with Marvel and come to a working relationship, which has been moving along quite well.
Nrama: Thanos was last seen in comics as the primary antagonist of Infinity. Does this fit with that, or is this a standalone adventure?
Starlin: Marvel wasn’t very forthcoming with what was going on with Thanos at the time I came in to do Thanos: The Infinity Revelation. I’ve seen the first five issues of Infinity as well as the off-shoots in Avengers and New Avengers, but haven’t see how it concluded. I tried to work in as much continuity as I could. With Infinity, I came back to my graphic novel after the pencils and inks on some earlier pages were done and added some extra characters into the background such as Thanos’ Outriders.
Nrama: In the preview images Marvel supplied us we see real Marvel heavyweights – and I’m not talking heroes. You have Eternity, The Living Tribunal, and Infinity in a massive splash page. Can you talk about bringing in these larger cosmic entities for your stories?
Starlin: Well, they worked into the story quite easily, these abstract god-like creatures, because basically the story is about universal change. Thanos and these gods—Infinity, Eternity and the Living Tribunal – all sense it coming, and it’s actually Thanos’ actions which precipitate it and then he and Adam Warlock have to deal with the results.
Nrama: Adam Warlock and Thanos have quite a unique relationship – they’ve been at odds as many times as they’ve been on each other’s side. What’s that partnership here like?
Starlin: If anyone is Thanos’ friend, it’s Adam Warlock – even though the first time they met, Thanos killed him. [laughs]
Through Infinity Abyss, Infinity War and Infinity Crusade they’ve actually become quite close, and in one of those issues Thanos says that he feels as if Adam is the closest thing to what he might consider a friend in the Marvel Universe.
Thanos and Adam Warlock are two of a kind because they’re both sort of out of the norm; out of the circle of life and death that falls on top of everyone else. Both have had multiple deaths and resurrections, and they always seem to get pulled in as key players for cosmic events. I don’t think there’s two characters more alike in the Marvel Universe, with the possibly exception of the Silver Surfer; even then, he’s still on a lower tier for cosmic events compared to Galactus and other cosmic god-like characters.
So Thanos and Adam Warlock’s relationship is about Warlock attempting to keep the Mad Titan’s damage down to a minimum. Thanos appreciates Warlock because of his perceptions and the way he looks at the world. They fit together like a Cagney & Lacey–type team.
Nrama: You mention Silver Surfer – will he be a part of Thanos: The Infinity Revelation?
Starlin: Yes, Silver Surfer along with the rest of the Annihilators, as well as the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Nrama: That’s a bit of synergy, considering they have a movie coming out in 2014, which Thanos is said to have a major role in. Can you tell us about Thanos and the team crossing paths?
Starlin: It’s a very brief encounter at the beginning, and it’s more so with Drax than the team. Thanos, quite literally, wants to consult with Drax on a certain subject.
Nrama: Jim, you did Marvel’s very first in-house graphic novel with The Death of Captain Marvel, years before that form would be popular. And now you’re doing it again here with Thanos: The Infinity Revelation. As someone who knows monthly comics in and how and how to tell a story in 22 pages, what’s it like being able to open up in a larger book like this?
Starlin: Well, I sat down and wrote the story as 100 pages and did little thumbnail sketches of the whole book. That was all done in one lump, and took about a week. But when it actually came down to doing the pencils, I did it as 20-page segments so it didn’t seem as overwhelming. Essentially, I was fooling myself by doing five 20-page segments as opposed to one 100-page story. Every freelancer does this sort of thing, breaking it down into workable loads, so there’s a conclusion of sorts at the end of every week, or every other week.
Nrama: You’ve been teasing this project on Facebook for quite some time. What’s it been like to get back into the characters you created here and tell a story here in 2013?
Starlin: It’s like visiting old friends. Doing it as a 100-page graphic novel is kind of daunting, especially since I haven’t done any work for Marvel in so long. But once I started working on it, it became easier. Tom Brevoort and I are getting along quite well, and he’s given me a nice sense of freedom where I can go back and make alterations to earlier pages because we’re so far ahead.
In fact, this is one of three projects I’m doing at Marvel, and they’re all interconnected in their own way and together lead to certain points. They’re all three standalone stories, but they all head in the same direction even though they take place in different time periods.
Nrama: Different time periods? Interesting. I assume Thanos: The Infinity Revelation takes place in the contemporary Marvel Universe?