Infinityis over, but the story started there is far from gone. While Thanos has been incased in amber, the man who put him there – his itinerant son Thane – is on the run and looking for answers. With his father’s former advisor the Ebony Maw at his side, the once-proud Inhuman turned mass murderer of his home has a lot of questions – questions Marvel says will begin to be answered in the new Infinite Comic series Thanos: A God Up There Listening.
Announced officially just last week and debuting online today, Thanos: A God Up There Listening picks up Thane’s journey just moments after the finale of Infinity as he stands in the town he once called home – the same town he decimated when the Terrigen Bomb changed his superhuman powers to literally have a death touch. Now, Thane is looking to find out answers of how he became the way he was and, more importantly, who is newly revealed father Thanos really is. The Mad Titan isn’t the type to keep a diary, but his one-time advisor Ebony Maw has revealed to him a former associate of Thanos who has the genetic ability to document his time with the Infinity foe and give it to Thane as if he were there.
But where is there? Why, Thanos’ untold battle with Ego, the Living Planet.
Telling this truly galactic-sized story is British writer Rob Williams and the artistic team of Paco Diaz, Iban Coello and Neil Edwards. Together, this quartet tells this six-part story using Marvel’s unique digital format dubbed “Infinite Comic;” an apt place for a story about Thanos given his penchant for all things named Infinity. Thanos: A Godo Up There Listening is available now on both the Marvel Comics app as well as the Marvel Digital Comics Shop website.
Newsarama: Rob, what can people expect with Thanos: A God Up There Listening?
Rob Williams: A war between Thanos and Ego The Living Planet. Which is a kind of a 'mic drop' if there ever was one. That's enormous fun to write and hopefully to read. It certainly looks great and out art team have delivered on some huge visuals here. Thanos hears the legend of Ego, this wandering living planet, and it offends him. So he hunts Ego down with his fleet, White Whale-style. He wants to kill Ego and create an undead planet that he can use as his flagship. A sort of cosmic, evil pimp my ride.
And this is all seen through the eyes of Thane, of course. Thanos' son who is attempting to discover his legacy. Thane is determined to not become his father's son, and the only way he feels he can ensure that is by educating himself about his father's actions. So he seeks out a telepathic alien who was part of Thanos' crew years ago, so he can 'see' his father first hand. This is a key moment in Thane's journey into discovering who he will become. A force for good or a force for something other.
Nrama: In some ways, this is a sequel to last summer’s Infinity, following what Thane and Ebony Maw do next. How much of a tie is in to that, and do people need to read that to understand this?
Williams: A; We're picking up Thane and The Ebony Maw - Thanos' advisor who is now offering his services to Thane (helpful guy isn't he?) - at the close of the events in Infinity. Thane has imprisoned Thanos with his touch of Living Death and is now stood in the remnants of the Inhuman city where he grew up. The city that was killed by the activation of the Terrigen Bomb. I don't think you need to have read Infinity to get this series - we bring you up to speed. But if you did read Infinity you'll see how this is the next stage in Thane's evolution, which began there.
Nrama: What is your view of Thane? Who is he to you?
Williams: He's a healer. He's a good man who the universe has just dropped this enormous weight upon. Thanos is his father! This reality's greatest monster is his father. And in the activation of the Terrigen bomb everyone in Thane's city was killed. He was physically transformed. Now he can kill with a touch. He didn't ask for any of this. He was a good person before all this was dropped on him. The question now is, can he remain a good man? I've described it as trying to drive a truck around a cliff-edge road when you've suddenly been given a ton of weight on the back end. He's going to try.
Nrama: And his associate/guide, the Ebony Maw. Although he was all over Infinity, he’s still a mystery and an enigma. What can you say about him?
Williams: The Ebony Maw has his own agenda, I think it's fair to say. In Infinity we saw him as part of Thanos' Black Order, a key advisor to the Mad Titan. But even then you felt that he was looking for the main chance. Now Thanos is off the playing field and he has this formative power in his possession in Thane. He, kindly, offers advice to Thane. He's just trying to help... He's kind of like a cosmic estate agent. You possibly would do well to be wary of his advice.
Nrama: Marvel says this will uncover a “lost biography of Thanos’ black deeds”. Can you tell us about that, and how it comes into play here for Thane?
Williams: The Ebony Maw tells Thane that he knows the location of Thanos' biography. But this isn't just a book. It's an alien who records experience in his DNA. When Thane bonds with this creature, he is actually there. He can see what the alien saw. But more than that, this isn't just a case of the past and the present. When you're dealing with Thanos and that level of madness, the boundaries of reality tend to crumble and break. Thanos looks through the fourth wall, sees Thane watching... it's tough to keep your sanity in such experiences.
Nrama: So you’re doing this flashback to Thanos’ battle with Ego the Living Planet. How are you working not to make the flashback seem passé?
Williams: The telepathic subjective experience means this isn't necessarily a flashback experience. I was aware that doing that kind of derails some of the drama. Thane is suddenly there, living through aspects of Thanos and Ego's war. And the Ebony Maw has chosen to show Thane this battle because something happens in it that is a key moment for someone who wishes to learn about Thanos. It says a lot about who Thanos is.
Nrama: The subtitle of this, “A God Up There Listening,” as a quasi-religious, or at least spiritual subtext. Is that off mark, or are you aiming for something here?
Williams: That's a strong thematic core to the story. Partly, when you're dealing with a genocidal Titan in love with death going to war with a planet with a face that moves according to continental land masses - how do you not see these beings as gods? And is any individual able to influence then. And then, there's the sheer unfairness of all this happening to Thane. He was a good man, a healer, he didn't ask for all of this. So who does he pray to? And who will listen to his prayers?
Nrama: By the end of Infinity, the jury was still out on whether Thane is a hero or a villain. Sometimes it’s not as black and white as that, but how do you feel about that murkiness and potentially solving it here?
Williams: He's not a hero or a villain. He's a person. A three-dimensional character with desires and fears. He doesn't want to be the monster his father is. Our story will go some way to showing whether he can adopt his own path. He's a different person when we leave him here. This is a story that does matter in the great canvas of the Marvel Universe.