I picked up a copy of Thanos: Infinity Abyss some weeks ago (I think it was from the Record Store Day run, but it’s not important), and took the occasion to read it tonight.
Oh, the frustration.
On the back: “Five classic costumed champions whose combined strength can move planets and change the course of time itself. What threat could be dire enough to bring these heroes together? Only the most feared villain in the entire cosmos: Thanos! For the vengeful Eternal seeks not only the death of his enemies–he seeks the eradication of life itself. If Thanos attains his goal, the entire universe will face complete Annihilation.”
No. Wrong. Entirely wrong. Given as wrong almost at the inception of the book. There is nothing whatsoever in the entire book to indicate any of this, because it is all totally, and completely, inaccurate. Poor Starlin’s own book can’t escape the mind-numbing oversimplification of his brilliant creation. “He worships death! He wants to exterminate life!” Seriously. The book repeatedly addresses this. This isn’t a twist, either. There’s no “Oh we thought he was bad but we were wrong oh shit our bad”. Because within the book, within Starlin’s writing, there was never a question, because we already knew this wasn’t the case. His prior writing made it clear.
And yet, in addition to the full blast of a Starlin cosmic story, we have some pretty great notes:
1) He addresses the bad writing of people who ignore Thanos. Some will call it a cop-out, but that’s because those people are wrong. When you start expanding, rounding and fully realizing a character, throwing that away to reduce them to a flimsy cardboard standup is bad. Period. It’s not interesting, unique–it’s just trashing something good in favour of repetitious stupidity. But it’s dealt with in a fashion that even lets him explicitly address the stupid-level motivations of those thought to be Thanos, referencing even the single-mindedness, as well as the middling plans. Which brings me to…
2) An excellent line, in contrast to a moronic comment I read recently, which questioned when Thanos was “ever about subtlety” (the answer: always!):
“But fortunately, Thanos’s most dangerous weapon is his mind. It is entirely in the planning. All battles are won or lost before ever the first blow is struck. Execution is mere formality.”
But it’s all still depressing: this is a new printing, and it’s almost guaranteed that whatever lazy asshole wrote the back of it wrote it with all of the stupid recent writings and, unfortunately, the upcoming film adapatations, in mind. Great…