SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Thanos #17 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Antonio Fabela and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Marvel Comics' heavyweight handicap match sees the future God of Thunder, Silver Surfer, square up against Thanos, King Thanos from the future and the latter's crazed Cosmic Ghost Rider, with a pet Hulk in their corner. An encounter five issues (and millions of eons) in the making, Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw finally take readers to their main event, where only one side can be named the victor.
Thanos #17 certainly delivers on that promise, with one of the most riveting battles to ever take place in the Marvel Universe. And in true WWE fashion, there's even a surprise entrant once the match is over.
Main Event Buildup
"Thanos Wins" began with the Mad Titan conquering the Chitauri's homeworld and naming himself their new lord. Chitauri Prime is where Thanos first met the Cosmic Ghost Rider, who we would later learn is the former Punisher, Frank Castle. The Rider scooped up the villain and used a shard of the Time Stone to take him to the future to meet King Thanos, who summoned his younger counterpart to help him defeat The Fallen (Silver Surfer) and win back the favor of Lady Death.
Along the way, we learned how Thanos finally defeated Earth's Mightiest Heroes, followed Frank Castle's long, sad journey from Ghost Rider, herald of Galactus and now the black right hand of King Thanos, and how a once mighty Avenger can be resorted to begging for his own death. Once the battle is underway, Norrin Radd rather viciously takes the flame out of the Cosmic Ghost Rider, leaving us to wonder if Castle is truly and finally dead, or merely sidelined for this fight.
No One Is Talking To You
After waiting as long as Silver Surfer has to get his hands on Thanos, one can understand why he wastes no time going on the offensive -- after all, he is outnumbered four-to-one. With the Ghost Rider no longer in play, that left Silver Surfer to contend with the present-day Thanos. However, in his fury to defeat the Rider, Norrin didn't realize he also unleashed King Thanos' pet Hulk, the gray-haired Bruce Banner, who immediately went on the offensive.
Using Black Widow's calming technique from Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Surfer is able to relax the Hulk long enough for him to revert back to his human form. It's here where we see a much older, mentally defeated Bruce Banner, who wishes for nothing more than to be put out of his misery after being forced to serve King Thanos. Unfortunately, Silver Surfer lets himself be distracted one final time, allowing King Thanos to strike a blow to both Norrin Radd and the once-Incredible Hulk.
Though the attack is enough to wound Silver Surfer (an apparently kill Banner), he is able to stay on his feet. However, Mjolnir's new owner is weaker and at the mercy of the Mad Titans, who systematically take apart their prey. Just when the odds weren't in Thanos' favor, he and his future counterpart quickly reminded us all why the story arc is called "Thanos Wins."
With the battlefield quiet once again, Thanos wished for nothing more than to be sent home where he belongs. But the younger titan overlooked the appearance of one last mystery guest, who came to congratulate the winners, while also dressed for the occasion. The woman who both Thanos' crush worlds and vanquish foes for, Death, finally returned, wearing a wedding dress.
But before we jump to conclusions and assume a happy ending, we must remember there is a current-day and future Thanos -- so which one will Death walk down the aisle with? There is a large possibility that the two Mad Titans will now fight to the death over, well, Death. And if one Thanos wins, can another truly lose? The conclusion to "Thanos Wins" arrives April 11.