Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at email@example.com).
Reader Christopher V. wrote in to ask, "Did Jack Kirby ever draw Thanos? Did he ever compare Thanos and Darkseid? Thank you."
Obviously, the reason why Christoper asked this is because Thanos, introduced in 1972's Iron Man #55...
was inspired by Jack Kirby's Darkseid, who debuted a couple of years earlier...
Jim Starlin famously told Jon B. Cooke, "That was the one exception where there some long term plotting on Thanos. Kirby had done the New Gods, which I thought was terrific. He was over at DC at the time. I came up with some things that were inspired by that. You’d think that Thanos was inspired by Darkseid, but that was not the case when I showed up. In my first Thanos drawings, if he looked like anybody, it was Metron. I had all these different gods and things I wanted to do, which became Thanos and the Titans. Roy took one look at the guy in the Metron-like chair and said : “Beef him up! If you’re going to steal one of the New Gods, at least rip off Darkseid, the really good one!”.
That is one of the all-time greatest lines, isn't it? "At least rip off the really good one. "
Now obviously, Thanos quickly moved WAY past just a Darkseid riff, and he was barely even much of a riff on Darkseid at the time besides their similar design. Starlin had his own things in mind for the character and they were much different than the stuff Kirby did with Darkseid back at DC Comics in the early 1970s.
Anyhow, as to Christopher's question, nope, Kirby never drew Thanos.
Thanos rarely showed up in books outside of Starlin's own comics.
One of these rare exceptions was Avengers #125...
But Kirby did not do an Avengers cover again (after he returned to Marvel in 1975) until Avengers #148...
Then he did a number of covers beginning with Avengers #151.
For a while there in the last five years of the 1970s, Kirby did a whole lot of covers for Marvel, the problem is that, as noted, Starlin pretty much had Thanos to himself. Meanwhile, in the comic books that were actually written and drawn by Kirby, Kirby went out of his way to choose characters that he could divorce from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Kirby just wanted to be left alone and allowed to do whatever he came up with, so his Captain America and Black Panther runs were very much cut off from the rest of the Marvel Universe. His other series, like Eternals and Devil Dinosaur, were EXPLICITLY intended to not be in the Marvel Universe.
So no, Kirby never got a chance to draw Thanos in a comic book before he mostly retired from Marvel Comics in the early 1980s to work generally in animation and independent comic books for the rest of the decade.
Boy, how cool would it have been to see a Kirby Thanos drawing?
Thanks to Christopher for the question! If anyone else has a comic book question, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!