Starlin Theorizes the "Relativity" of Thanos and Annihilus

The light years that separate sections of the Marvel Universe are filled with the populations of alien empires and, inevitably, the body count of numerous intergalactic wars and crises. Even more frightening is the fact that two individuals are responsible for a large number of those deaths -- the intergalactic mass murderer known as Thanos, and Annihilus, the despotic ruler of the anti-matter universe known as the Negative Zone.

RELATED: Intergalactic Titans Tussle in Starlin's "Thanos Vs. Hulk"

In the summer of 2015, these fearsome beings face off in "Thanos: The Infinity Relativity" an original graphic novel by Thanos' creator, writer/artist Jim Starlin. We spoke with Starlin about the project, where it fits in his current cycle of Thanos stories for Marvel, and the other cosmic champions that will battle Annihilus which include Adam Warlock, Gladiator and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

CBR News: When we spoke about "Thanos Vs Hulk," you mentioned that the finale would set up several major cosmic players for your next Marvel project, and "Thanos: The Infinity Relativity" is that next project. How much story time passes between the two tales? Will "Thanos Vs Hulk" end with a cliffhanger to be picked up in "The Infinity Relativity?"

Jim Starlin: No, on the cliffhanger question. Like the "Thanos Annual," the "Thanos vs The Hulk" story takes place before "Thanos: The Infinity Revelation." So, there is an indeterminate amount of time between my first graphic novel and this new graphic novel.

During that time, Annihilus has adjusted to the changes that take place in the "Thanos vs The Hulk" tale, and taken steps to exploit those changes. Adam Warlock has also had to make some adjustments, getting used to his new reincarnation. Our Mad Titan has gone through some changes also. As you might recall, his relationship status with Mistress Death was altered at the end of "Thanos: The Infinity Revelation."

Is "The Infinity Relativity" told from Thanos' perspective?

Thanos' train of thought narration is throughout the story but the tale is too complex to limit it to strictly his point of view. The Guardians of the Galaxy, Gladiator, Silver Surfer and other Marvel characters appear -- we are incorporating a large canvas with the story.

Had you written Annihilus much before these two stories? What makes him a good foil for the Mad Titan and his allies in this story?

Well, Thanos and Annihilus have past history from the "Annihilation" series, so I thought them a natural fit for each other. But it always struck me that Annihilus could be even more of a badass than he is already, so he's been juiced up for "Relativity." Plus, he discovers something that should make him invincible. That's what the story is all about.

Thanos' allies in "The Infinity Relativity" include another character you've written often, Adam Warlock. We've talked in the past about how one of the things that keeps Thanos so interesting to you after you all these years is he allows you to visit your dark side, but what keeps Adam Warlock fresh for you?

His schizophrenic nature. I have always thought Warlock to be just as mentally unbalanced as Thanos. The two characters exist in a reality unlike any other characters in the Marvel Universe. Dr. Strange's surreal existence is the closest to what Thanos and Warlock's lives are like. Plus, Warlock's latest reincarnation turns out to be more complex than any of his previous lives.

Also assisting in the fight against Annihilus are the Guardians of the Galaxy. How big a role do they play and what's it like returning to the characters of Drax and Gamora?

The Guardians play a much larger role in this tale than they did in "Revelation." They are all on board this go around. But it is Gamora who plays the most important Guardian's part in this story.

As for what it's like revisiting these characters, it's like running into old friends -- but with a few adjustments. Both Drax and Gamora have changed since I had control of them. I really like Drax's new look, but I'm not crazy about Gamora's. I'm not sure why she'd be wearing all that white armor, so I made some temporary adjustments to her look about midway through the story.

Rounding out the anti-Annihilus alliance is Gladiator of the Shi'ar. What can you tell us about his role in the alliance against Annihilus?

Well, Gladiator is the ruler of what is arguably the most powerful civilization in the Marvel Cosmos, so when Annihilus comes on the scene, it's only natural that he heads up the resistance to this invasion. Needless to say, he doesn't get the situation under control very well. If he did we'd have no story.

BTW, did I mention that Pip the Troll is also in "Relativity?"

Now that we've run down the players, let's talk about the action -- what's at stake in the graphic novel? What's Annihilus after?

As always, Annihilus is after power. He firmly believes that he is destined to rule both the Negative Zone and what he calls the Posiverse. The last time he came to our reality, he left a lot of wreckage behind. He plans on leaving even more carnage in his wake this go-around. What's at stake? Everything.

Is this story as surreal as "The Infinity Revelation?"

No, the story has a lot more of a reality-base to it. But because it's a Starlin tale, it will have its surreal moments, mostly involving Adam Warlock. Readers are going to find he's not the Adam they know of old.

Finally, is "Thanos: The Infinity Relativity" sort of the grand finale of your current cycle of Thanos stories? Or do you have more you'd like to do with the Mad Titan after this tale?

There is another (yet to be titled) graphic novel scheduled after "Relativity," and we're talking about a possible miniseries between the second and third graphic novels. But that's all stuff for a later interview.

As always, I'm having a great time writing and drawing this latest installment of Thanos' mad existence. To be honest, I'm getting on in years, and I've made some commitments which may mean that this set of graphic novels might well be my last time at the helm with the Mad Titan. I'm putting everything I have into the stories -- I hope the readers enjoy.

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