Jim Starlin already made his official return to Marvel Comics, and probably the most notable character he ever created, a couple of months ago to write “Thanos Annual” #1, but he makes his grand homecoming entrance here, both writing and pencilling “Thanos: The Infinity Revelation,” Marvel’s latest original graphic novel. It’s a grand return indeed, as he takes readers on one incredibly fun and cosmic rollercoaster ride, although like an actual rollercoaster, the story ultimately drops readers off right where they got on; that is, except for a few seemingly subtle changes.
Thanos himself says it best near the end of this volume, that the events transpiring within were “much ado about very little.” The graphic novel does indeed take the longest road possible to get from Point A back to Point A (or a Point A Prime, of sorts), but all that ado is what makes the story so engaging. There are two separate but related disturbances afoot here, one on the largest possible cosmic scale, and the other a more personal one, and Starlin kicks off the story in spectacular fashion with the first, before giving the story over to a once-again resurrected Thanos. As the story progresses, Starlin gradually intertwines the macro- and micro-level storylines, and during the course of it takes readers on a far-reaching journey to a lot of expected, and unexpected, corners of the Marvel Universe.
As a whole, Starlin’s story is strong enough and holds up under the weight of a lot of characters passing through and verbose references to past storylines. Its true strength, though, is Starlin’s ability to deliver exactly what fans of his work want to see: cosmic calamity, and lots of it, cleanly inked by Andy Smith and beautifully colored by Frank D’Armata. There are plenty of alien landscapes, one populated with a typically Starlin-esque scavenger appropriately named after a pharmaceutical drug who looks like a blue Zippy the Pinhead. Anyone imagining what an alien armada envisioned by Starlin looks like will find exactly that rendered here.
Thanos obliterates an army in bloody Starlin fashion, while also going fist to fist with some of Marvel’s cosmic heavyweights. There are plenty of Starlin’s trademark trippy other-dimensional mindscapes, too, and no shortage of single and double page splashes to capture it all as intended. Oh, and there’s also the return of another of Starlin’s notable characters who shares the spotlight with Thanos throughout the story.
A lot has happened to Starlin’s old characters in his absence, and without maligning or negating the work of those who have left their fingerprints on characters created by him, Starlin’s opus reads like a polite but firm statement of reclamation. He doesn’t try to disavow anything, but he makes sure readers know who’s responsible for these characters’ existence in an understated but nevertheless clear manner. Likewise, other familiar cosmic faces not of his own creation look right at home in his story.
The scope of this story is epic, and when it’s all over, Starlin makes sure to point out that while everything might still look the same, there are some very subtle differences; differences that play right into Starlin’s aforementioned reclamation, but also serving as the groundwork for possible future storylines. “Thanos: The Infinity Revelation” makes great use of its one hundred pages, and is a terrific welcome home for one of comics’ first fan-favorite creators.