WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy #1 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Marte Gracia and VC's Cory Petit, on sale now.
Though he was beheaded at the hands of Requiem, aka Gamora, Marvel has revealed that a "new" Thanos will be stepping up to take the place of the fallen Mad Titan. In Guardians of the Galaxy #1, we find out how, this will happen, though the real fun comes at the end of the issue when the series' initial antagonist is revealed in a scene designed to evoke the first Avengers film's mid-credits scene.
At the end of Joss Whedon's film, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were stunned when the Other was revealed to be working under the direction of Thanos. The revelation came after a discussion about Loki's failed Chitauri invasion of Earth, where he lost the Tesseract (the Space Stone) and the scepter (the Mind Stone). As the lackey tells Thanos, Earth's Mightiest Heroes have united, fortifying the planet against incursion.
"They are unruly and therefore, cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court death," he warns his master, whose only response is to get off his throne and offer a sinister smirk to the camera in one of the MCU's most ominous post-credits scenes to date. The challenge was accepted and this sequence set the stage for the next six years of cameos, culminating in Thanos snapping half the galaxy out of existence in Infinity War.
In Marvel's rebooted GotG series, the Black Order crashes Thanos' funeral and steals their master's headless corpse before teleporting to an unknown employer. When the Black Order lays Thanos' body down behind the floating throne of their new master, they're informed the resurrection cannot be complete without his head. Sadly, they destroyed the local where the funeral took place, and thus have no idea how to get the head back, or who even has it. The hidden villain insists they find a solution, but Proxima Midnight balks, advising that it may actually be unwise to pull Thanos back as he's now with Lady Death, the entity Thanos had long craved to spend eternity with.
"To rip him away from her... would be to wage war against Death itself," Proxima Midnight declares, which leads to the final page reveal that Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death, is the person who wants to resurrect Thanos. The assassin makes it clear not even she should go up against Death itself, but Hela, seated on her throne, turns and smiles in a manner writer Donny Cates confirmed to CBR was designed to homage Thanos' MCU arrival.
Last year, in The Unworthy Thor, Hela and Thanos embraced in a passionate lip-lock after she unsuccessfully tried to bring him Ultimate Mjolnir as a tribute. She promised him Death if he could help her regain the kingdom of Hel, but in Thor, she proved she didn't need Thanos after all, retaking her throne with the aid of Thor, Balder and her new wife Karnilla. Thanos had previously interrupted the ceremony, cutting ties with Hela before leaving, but with the throne subsequently back under her thumb once more, a relationship with Thanos appeared to be inconsequential.
Or, at least, that's what we thought. Clearly, Hela has some come need of Thanos after all, or she'd be happy to leave the Mad Titan in his grave. The only catch is she might have to face Death herself, whose power shouldn't be underestimated by anyone in the Marvel Universe -- not even the Queen of Hel.