When his new ongoing series “Thanos” was announced, Jeff Lemire noted that he was reading “Darth Vader” by Kieron Gillen and artist Salvador Larroca as part of his research for his latest Marvel Comics series. And when CBR spoke to the writer/artist about the upcoming villain-centric title, Lemire shared that he also read “Star Wars: Vader Down,” illustrated by “Thanos” artist Mike Deodato, Jr., in preparation for writing the new series.
Sadly, a crossover between Thanos and Vader is likely not in the cards, though Lemire does think Lucasfilm Ltd. and Marvel would be crazy not pursue such an event.
Nor will “Thanos” tie into his other current, ongoing stories in “Extraordinary X-Men,” “Old Man Logan” and “Moon Knight.” It will, however, provide a deep character study of the Jim Starlin creation while exploring the alpha-villain’s relationship with his family and extended family — namely Thane, Starfox and Gamora.
CBR News: Thanos has a long history in the Marvel Universe, and as the big villain pulling strings in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, his exposure and popularity is only going to get bigger. That’s why his own ongoing series makes perfect sense now, but as a character, what is it about Thanos that makes him worthy of a solo book?
Jeff Lemire: I had a really interesting conversation with [Marvel Editor-in-Chief] Axel Alonso when he called to offer me the book. At first, it didn’t seem like something that I was really interested in. It wasn’t until I had a really good conversation with him and explained his take on the character and what that book could be that I really started to see the potential.
First of all, after five or six years of doing superhero stuff at Marvel and DC, the idea of doing a supervillain book immediately creates a whole new dynamic and set of possibilities for you as a writer. It’s challenging and also really fun.
And as you said, the awareness of Thanos is growing because of his involvement in the Cinematic Universe. There is a great potential to have an audience for this book and still do something cool. The character himself, he is pretty well god-like, and for me that can either be pretty uninteresting or it can be fascinating. When you have that much power, what compels you? What motivates you? What do you want? When I started asking myself those questions, I started to build a story, and when I started answering them, that’s what the story explores.
I was also fascinated by this cosmic family dynamic that Thanos has around him, like Starfox and Gamora, and how these characters could play a role in the book. You not only get to tell the story of Thanos, you also get to tell the story of his family and everyone he’s affected through his actions. When I started thinking about all of these things, a Thanos solo series became really interesting to me. He really is the closest thing that the Marvel Universe has to Darth Vader. He’s an alpha villain, and the potential for stories is huge. But I didn’t want to just do these vast cosmic adventures that don’t have an emotional core or a human element, so trying to get that side of Thanos into the book has become really interesting and challenging, too. Of all of the stuff that I have written at Marvel, I have had the most fun writing the first few scripts for Thanos. It’s just a complete blast.
Have you had a chance to speak with Jim Starlin about Thanos?
No, I haven’t. I’ve never met Jim. I have tons of respect for him and everything that he has created. Obviously, when I got this job, I went back and re-read everything that he did with the character. I hope when the book comes out, it’s something that he enjoys. I hope he sees the respect for what he created in what I do. He’s a huge influence on this book, for sure.
Does “Thanos” tie into your other Marvel series, “Extraordinary X-Men” and “Old Man Logan”?
No, not at all — which is a good thing. It’s fun to explore other realms in the Marvel Universe. I’ve been focused on the mutants the last couple of years, and “Hawkeye” and “Moon Knight” were both set in their own little pockets and didn’t really interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe very much. This one’s fun because you get to go into space and traipse around the same territory as the Guardians of the Galaxy and some of these other characters. It’s fun to play with some new toys.
I ask the question because when the teaser art was revealed with the announcement, there were many online hypothesizing that the glimmer of light in his eyes appears to be a reflection of Phoenix Force. Can you confirm or deny that’s what we’re seeing?
No, I can’t. [Laughs] Those are very interesting theories is all that I will say. I am glad that people are discussing it.
What I will say is that I think the best genre stuff that I’ve done, like “Sweet Tooth” and “Descender,” have had these huge canvases like “Thanos” will, but at the heart of it, it’s very small, character-driven stories. That’s how I want “Thanos” to be, too. It’s his journey, but it’s also the journey of Thane and Starfox and other characters, and their relationship with Thanos. But it also has a huge canvas and huge potential, so I want to try and balance it where you get a bit of both. Certainly, where it’s going with some things that I am setting up in the first arc has the potential to be a massive, universe-shaking story. If I do my job right, you will get both: a deep character study of Thanos, and also setting up a massive Marvel story.
Have you seen any pages from artist Mike Deodato, Jr. yet?
No, it’s still early. But I have a ton of respect for Mike. I love his work. I looked at a lot of the work he did with Thanos in “Infinity” with Jonathan Hickman, and stuff that he did with Darth Vader on “Vader Down” — two big things that influence what I am doing with “Thanos” — but he hasn’t actually started work on this book yet. We haven’t really started collaborating yet, but I am excited about it.
Okay. Here is my wild speculation. You mentioned that Thanos is basically the Darth Vader of the Marvel Universe. I know you read “Darth Vader” by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca as part of your prep work for this series and now you’re saying you looked at Mike’s work on “Vader Down,” so you can reveal to me now that “Thanos” is actually setting up a Marvel Universe/Star Wars Universe crossover, right?
[Laughs] Those are decisions that would all be made well beyond my pay grade. But I think a Marvel Universe/Star Wars Universe crossover would be a no-brainer. If they can make it happen, it’s something that fans would flock too. I would certainly be interested in it, but I don’t know that I would be the right person to tackle it. I’m not a huge Star Wars fan. I know that’s sacrilege; I’ve always liked it, but I’ve never been a nut for it the way some people are. I think there is probably someone else out there that would be more passionate about that project than I would be. But I’d read it. [Laughs]
“Thanos” by Jeff Lemire and Mike Deodato, Jr. debuts in the fall.
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