Well it has been some time since my last review and for that I am sorry, still I am back now and today (as you can no doubt see from the title) I am taking a look at the second issue of the comic that started this little blog.
Today we look at
You know what? I am just going to say this right now and get it out of the way. It is not as good as #1. However do not take this to mean it is terrible or that I hate it, I just wasn't as drawn into the world as I was in the first issue, but more on that later.
Okay if you have read #1 you will no doubt be aware that it ended with Thanos killing a bunch of lizards who had killed his friends while some creepy girl looked on (and who is probably death or works for death or....something)
This comic starts years later with some teenage Titans dissecting lizards so they can label their organs. Of course being the little genius Thanos has not just already done this but he has detailed what it had eaten, how it had died and what age it was. He then declares he has no more time for these lessons or the teacher and just walks out.
He meets the creepy "Death" girl and takes her back to his secret lab where he is about to dissect a still living cave ape, simply for the pursuit of knowledge, which apparently is quite bloody messy (as in it is full of blood and very messy). While he does so we are told briefly the other wonders that Thanos has performed in the years between issues #'1 and #2, such as walking on the burning core of Titan at age 13 and mapping the stars of a thousand galaxies by the time he was 15. This along with an earlier comment he makes about learning faster then people can teach him really helps to show how intellectually gifted he truly is.
However, after the incidents of the first issue there is a very strong sense that this desire for knowledge has started to take a darker turn then just creating new flowers.
When he is finally finished his work, Thanos is quite upset that the ape has yielded no answers to his questions. This is when the girl suggests he may be "looking in the wrong place" which you just know is going to lead trouble pretty quickly.
Oh and it does.
Well right after Thanos first tries to kiss the "Death" girl, who pushes him away and says that isn't what she meant and then tells him to "Open your eyes dear...you haven't even begun looking"
Now I personally found this to be quite a sweet and yet also a disturbing scene as it is really starting to show how far Thanos has fallen from the sweet innocent child who just wanted to draw pictures and not hurt anything to a sullen teenager who confuses love and death, seeking the mystery behind who and what he is both with the blade of a scalpel and the attempted embrace of the only person on Titan who understands him.
Anyway, back with the story we are now introduced to two young Titans named Sogarth and Loktus who are on a date and judging by the off panel dialogue we get when we see Thanos sneaking up on them, they are probably trying to create more little Titans. Well that doesn't last long because Thanos soon captures them, strips them naked and straps them up in his lab. This makes them the first people that Thanos ever kills (and we all know they will not be the last). Still at least Thanos tells them "I will remember this moment forever" because I think these two kids, who had their whole lives ahead of them, would be very upset if their psychotic murderer would be rude enough to forget them.
Thanos then goes to dinner where his father A'Lars is discussing the disappearances of the Sogarth and Loktus with his father Kronos (which makes him Thanos' grandfather). Kronos says that they have probably been murdered, but A'Lars doesn't think that is possible because murder does not happen on Titan and that most of the people there do not even know what murder is.
But then Kronos replies with what is probably my favourite quote from the entire comic
"Everyone knows what murder is. Every being in creation that has blood of its own that can be spilled. They don't have to be taught that there's such a thing as spilling someone else's. They all know it, like they know how to breathe"
All said while Kronos looks down at the Thanos, the very murderer that they have been discussing who simply sits and says nothing.
Thanos' mother is also there, having seemingly been released from the mental institute she had been placed in after attempting to murder the newborn Thanos. She tells Thanos that she knows what he is, to which he responds "No you don't...And neither do I"
The scene then jumps to Thanos burying the bodies of possibly Sogarth and Loktus, or maybe even some new subjects he has been experimenting with, it's not really made clear. This actually works to heighten the suspense because it leaves it open to just how far he has fallen, made even more heart wrenching when Thanos declares that he will never kill again, a promise he has already broken by the very next panel (or two weeks later in the comic) for the simple reason that he "enjoyed it", something he admits to his shame.
The "Death" girl tells him that he shouldn't be ashamed of what he is and that he is being true to his nature, but the question is...is he? This dark side of Thanos only emerged after she told him to take his friends into the cave and then later told him to kill the green lizards who had eaten them. Is this really the Thanos that he was born to be or simply the one that she is turning him into? Still the fact that his own mother always viewed him as a monster could also be seen as proof that this is the true nature of Thanos (or the rantings of a crazy woman).
Again Thanos tries to embrace the girl and asks her to run away with him. Again she refuses telling him that love is not for the weak. When he says he could make her love him she tells him "Not me you couldn't" The matter of fact way she states this and the look on her face really give you the feeling that there is a hidden power inside this girl, a power that even Thanos should be in awe of.
She then goes on to put Thanos in his place, saying he is nothing but a "lonely little boy-god frightened of (his) own shadow"
Now like I did with #1 I am going to leave it here and not spoil the rest of the comic other then to say that Thanos goes to a much darker place and we really get to see the emergence of the Thanos that we all know and love.
This is an awesome comic with Jason Aaron spinning a rich and multi layered story that really delves into the background of one of comicdoms biggest monsters and really helps to show the reader what makes him tick and perhaps understand why he does the things that he does. He is simply looking for love and acceptance and in his brilliant warped mind, death holds the answer to these for him.
Still if you remember what I said at the start, this comic is not as good as #1. This is for one reason...pacing. Things happen too quickly that we never really got to see the emotional turmoil butchering all those lizards had on Thanos straight after the fact. Instead we are thrust several years later where Thanos now sees dissecting animals as nothing and will even do it to living ones. Remember this is the same Thanos who vomited at the sight of blood in the previous issue. Now while it is nice to see a bit more of the bloodthirsty Thanos I can't help think that it just occurs to quickly to really have as big an emotional impact as it should have had. I think if we had even just a page or two to show young Thanos' reaction to what he had done after the bloodlust had faded, that this descent into animal torturing and eventual murder wouldn't seem so jarring.
Still as it stands it is still a very well told story, just with the small problem I just detailed above, and once again I find that I must compare it to young Anakin Skywalker's transformation from sweet child to the iconic evil character Darth Vader. The difference is that this time I am not comparing them to say that Thanos rising handled it better, instead I would actually have to say here they were about equal. Both plant the reasons for their "heroes" downfall, and this is quickly followed by their first actual murders, but in both cases this is also the problem. The writers rushed to that point far too quickly that something just seems missing in the story, that somehow the character went from A to C and missed out B which was actually a very important step in their journey.
Once again the artwork is fantastic with that same hauntingly beautiful look to it that helps to draw you into the world. Simone Bianchi does an excellent job of capturing the characters, especially Thanos and even the few odd times the panels become a bit loose with the pencil work and "sketch" like, I find that it helps bring the story to life because it is like a visual representation that this "utopia" is starting to fall apart.
This time on colors we have Ive Svorcina and they do a decent job of keeping the tone of the comic that previous colorist Simone Bianchi had so lovingly created in issue #1. This time the hidden darkness that was hidden behind the bright colors of Thanos' youthful romps with his friends has been dragged to the forefront. This is no longer the sweet Thanos who would never kill anyone, this is the darker Thanos who happily kills for his own pleasure and to further his studies. Now that the darkness inside Thanos has been brought to the surface so to have darkness hidden behind the colors.
To sum this up
Thanos Rising #2 is a great sequel to #1 which expands upon the story extremely well, albeit perhaps a bit too quickly in certain areas. Still that doesn't mean that this mini series still shouldn't be on everyone's must read list. The artwork and story still compliment each other in a way that I rarely see in comics, even in those comics which have artwork that I would actually have to admit I like better then this. This is because, while they may be more pleasing to the eye, they do not have the same depth that the art in this comic does, they are more style then substance and thankfully this comic has both
For me this once again elevates Thanos Rising above the rest
4.5 Howling Wolves
Do not miss
This could have been another perfect score if it wasn't for the fact things progressed just a little bit too quickly and we never got to see the aftermath of Thanos killing those lizards at the end of issue #1