SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Thanos” #2, which is on sale now.
Last month, the debut issue of Thanos’ latest ongoing series revealed the Mad Titan’s dangerous new status quo: Thanos is dying. Not only is he dying, but a cabal of individuals spearheaded by Thanos’ son Thane are now conspiring to murder him. Thane and Death have joined forces with Tryco the Champion and Thanos’ brother Starfox to plot the evildoer’s end. “Thanos” #2, the second chapter in writer Jeff Lemire and artist Mike Deodato’s new series, sees this new tale continue to unfold — while it comes to an abrupt end for a supporting character.
On a quest for the cure to his mystery ailment, Thanos travels to the edges of the Shi’ar Empire — specifically a moon named Gilgrath. There he storms into a research facility, making short work of any person or defense system that tries to halt his progress. He enters the main chamber and calls out to the person he has specifically come to see: his father.
Thanos’ father, the Titan known as Mentor, debuted in Mike Friedrich and Jim Starlin’s “Iron Man” #55 in 1973. Featuring the first appearances of Drax, Mentor and Thanos, almost all of the modern cosmic Marvel universe can be traced back to that one early ’70s issue of “Iron Man.” Starlin would move all of those characters to his subsequent series, including “Captain Marvel” and “Warlock.” Gifted with long life and an extraordinary intellect, Mentor ruled the Eternals of Saturn’s moon Titan. He fathered two sons with his wife, Sui-San. Those sons were the future Avenger Starfox — and Thanos, a child afflicted with the Deviant Syndrome at birth, resulting in his inhuman appearance.
As Thanos grew into adulthood and became more and more vicious, cruel and violent, Mentor often opposed his child. That’s why when Thanos comes seeking Mentor’s help in finding a cure for his disease, Mentor spits in his own son’s face.
But as much as Mentor is ashamed of his mad tyrant son, he is still surprised to learn that Thanos is dying. It had long been presumed that Thanos was impervious to harm and immune to death. Thanos knows there is something wrong with him, “deep inside,” and he needs Mentor to use his intellect to find out what. Not surprisingly, Mentor isn’t too hot on that idea.
Mentor runs through Thanos’ most egregious offenses: “You killed my wife, your own mother! You annihilated Titan and everyone on it. You have enslaved entire worlds! And these horrors were just the beginning for you. The blood of millions of others stains your soul. I will gladly watch you die…son.”
To get Mentor to help, Thanos threatens the life of every scientist in the facility. Either Mentor devises a cure, or Thanos will murder everyone Mentor works with and leave his father there to “wade through their corpses.”
With such an extreme threat made, Mentor agrees to study Thanos. What he finds, though, isn’t pleasing for the Mad Titan to hear. As Mentor learns, Thanos’ body is “literally eating itself at a molecular level.” Mentor calls it a “God Cancer.”
According to Mentor’s studies, Thanos only has a couple of weeks to live. Thanos, not surprisingly, demands an immediate cure. But Mentor says that Thanos is being unreasonable; “it would take years, decades even, just to study your Deviant biology and isolate the cause of the illness, let alone to start developing some sort of treatment.”
Thanos calls his father a disappointment for not being able to summon a cure for him. Mentor almost laughs in Thanos’ face at being called a disappointment; Mentor throws all of Thanos’ cruelty back in his son’s face, calling him the disappointment. Mentor tells Thanos that he’s glad he is dying, saying he wishes he could watch the villain “rot and die alone.”
With that, Thanos does something he’s probably waited his entire lifetime to do: Thanos finally kills his father.
Thanos punches clean through Mentor, ripping his body apart, all while complimenting his cruel final words. While Mentor’s prominence in the Marvel Universe was greatly diminished with the death of his frequent collaborator Captain Mar-Vell in 1982, he’s a major part of Thanos’ origin and one of the villain’s defining supporting characters. Now, he’s no more.
Thanos doesn’t get the last laugh, at least not in this issue. As soon as he steps foot outside, he’s zapped by a burst of energy. The Shi’ar’s elite Imperial Guard has arrived on Gilgrath to arrest him. The battle for Thanos’ future goes down next issue.
“Thanos” #3 will arrive in stores on January 25, 2017.
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