You've learned about Thanos from comic books, movies, cartoons, and maybe even tie-in media, but the one version you've never been told is that of his daughter's, Gamora.
In the new six-issue Thanos limited series debuting this week just hours before Avengers: Endgame, the never-before-told story of the Mad Titan as a father (for good and for bad) is told by writer Tini Howard and Ariel Olivetti.
As Howard tells Newsarama, Thanos is the raw, vulnerable side of cosmic despot that he'd never want anyone to know. And in a way, Howard telling this story is what helped her be offered - and accept - an exclusive deal with Marvel Comics.
Newsarama: Tini, this series is called Thanos, but from what I've heard it's equally a Gamora series. What is it like for Gamora to grow up in the shadow of a adopted father like Thanos?
Tini Howard: It's not just the people around her when she grows up, it's the place. Zero Sanctuary is more than just a title, it's the name of Thanos's prototype space station where she's raised.
It's less a "Thanos story with Gamora" and more of a story about Thanos, told from the point of view of the person who knows him better than anyone else, now that he's dead and isn't around to refute it.
Nrama: We all know how this story ends - Gamora kills Thanos. But how does it begin? How early in their lives do you touch on them?
Howard: We see them from the first time he ever sees her face. Their first looks at one another, we're there for all of it.
Nrama: Interweaved in all of this is the formation of the Black Order, created by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome Opena and then immortalized in the AVENGERS movies. Without spoiling the story, how would you describe their formation?
Howard: I love those characters - and they have such great names. I'd describe their formation as organic. We meet a group of people in our story called Butcher Squadron. The squadron contains some new faces and some familiar ones, but we see the first time some of the Black Order we know and love meet and start working together.
Nrama: How would you describe Gamora's relationship with the members of the Black Order?
Howard: Oh, that's a good one. I think they start by viewing her as a curiosity but ...that changes. I won't spoil how.
Nrama: We see how Gamora is changed by Thanos - but how does Thanos change by being responsible for Gamora?
Howard: Hm, but is he responsible for her, though? To whom? Who is going to stop him if he just kills her?
Nrama: Good point.
Howard: The change is that he doesn't kill her, that he would have at any other time, and only Gamora knows why.
Nrama: This series all comes as you yourself signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Comics. You must have done something right with this book - Can you talk about your relationship with Marvel and how it came to this stage, at least from your end?
Howard: Oh gosh, right? They must really like me.
I definitely felt myself 'level up' as I was writing this book. Developing the pitch took a lot of time and energy and phone calls with my editors, bashing out something that felt right. I'm grateful to them for that - for really working with me on the front end a ton, before we got to scripting, because it gives the story a ton of depth and gravity.
From my end, Marvel started calling me one day, we had a great time working together, and we haven't stopped. I'm really happy to be working there right now, and having a book called 'Thanos #1' on stands the week Avengers: Endgame comes out is kind of mindboggling for me. I feel very trusted.
Nrama: From meeting you at C2E2, I remarked about your use of music in writing. Can you name off some songs that you listened to during writing this that people might want to try out while reading this?
Howard: Oh hell yes! My Thanos playlist is everything from Pink Floyd to Ulver to Lorn to Biggie Smalls. If I had to pick one song for each of these characters, though:
Thanos - "Veteran of 1000 Psychic Wars," Blue Öyster Cult
Gamora - "Bachelorette," Bjork
The Magus - "Comfort Eagle," Cake
Nrama: Big picture, what are your goals with Thanos?
Howard: I would love for readers to feel like they shouldn't be seeing this, like these are Thanos's most vulnerable moments hung out to dry by his own daughter. In the end, we'll understand Thanos - but he doesn't really want us to.