Marvel’s latest cosmic epic is coming to a head with this week’s Infinity Wars Prime #1. The stage is set, the Infinity Stones are in play, Thanos controls an army of Chitauri warriors and the mysterious Requiem is on a mysterious quest for mysterious vengeance.
At last week’s San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel teased that writer Gerry Duggan’s Infinity Wars Prime #1 would change the face of the Marvel Universe in a way no-one was ready for. The company was telling the truth.
[Warning: The rest of this article is going to feature heavy spoilers for Infinity Wars Prime #1]
With the first issue out, the fate of Thanos, one of the most recognizable Marvel characters, is sealed, clearing the deck for a new war for the Infinity Stones which will stretch through every corner of the Marvel Universe. Here’s what happened.
The end is a beginning
When you think of the Infinity Stones, you think Thanos. Even before the Avengers: Infinity War film came out, the big, purple combatant had been associated with a quest for the gems’ power, being the first to assemble them back in Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim’s Infinity Gauntlet.
So with the return of the Infinity Stones, it’s only natural for Thanos to become involved in the quest to unite them again. He’s placed himself as the leader of the Chitauri — the bad guys from 2012’s The Avengers — in order to track them down. Unfortunately, in Infinity Wars Prime #1, Thanos finds himself at the receiving end of Requiem’s cosmic sword. The mysterious new character slices up the Mad Titan, sending him into the embrace of his one true love, Mistress Death.
It takes a few blows to take Thanos down, and we won’t spoil the most satisfying panels, but here’s one uncomfortable strike.
This isn’t by any means Thanos’ first comic book death — and it’s unlikely to be his last. He was first “killed” in 1977’s Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2 when he was turned to stone by Adam Warlock. He stayed that way for 13 years until he was revived by Mistress Death to correct the population imbalance in the universe through any means necessary.
He was killed again, decades later, when Drax finally avenged his dead family by driving his fist through the Mad Titan’s chest, ripping out his heart. Since then, Thanos has even died a couple more times; he was abandoned in the Cancerverse and later killed by an all-powerful Doctor Doom on Battleworld. Each time, Thanos found a way back from the brink of death.
Another clue to Thanos’ eventual Infinity Wars fate may lie in Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s recent “Thanos Wins” storyline, which sent the character to the far future to meet an older version of himself. The elder Thanos brought his younger self forward to die at his hand so he could finally be with Mistress Death, but the younger Thanos refused and returned to the present. As the future of King Thanos began to fade away, Back to the Future-style, the elder Titan asked Death what his younger self did to change things, to which she replied “he won.” If that still holds true — and it was only a established a couple of months ago — it’s likely we haven’t seen the end of Thanos in Infinity Wars.
Who is Requiem?
Now that Thanos is dead, at least for now, the question becomes “who killed him?”
In Infinity Wars’ prequel series, Infinity Countdown, we saw Requiem force one of the trolls responsible for forging Asgardian weapons to create a new set of armor and a cosmically powered sword. But even with the new sword and armor that covers their face, Thanos seems to recognize Requiem before they slice off his head in one swift motion.
There are a couple of candidates for who Requiem could be, but our number one suspect is Nebula, the character played by Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies.
In the movies, Nebula is Thanos’ daughter and sister to Gamora. In the comics she’s Thanos’ granddaughter — or at least she alleges to be. Created by Roger Stern and John Buscema, she debuted in 1985’s Avengers #257 as a space pirate, captain of the starship Sanctuary II, once Thanos’ own ship. She once wielded the Infinity Gauntlet after Thanos ascended into a cosmic state of being, but aside from that she’s never quite played a heavy-hitter role in the Marvel Universe. She has the potential — and, thanks to the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, she has the notoriety.
On top of all that, the upcoming Asgardians of the Galaxy title spinning off out of Infinity Wars mentions a mission to stop Nebula from taking over the galaxy. Could Marvel have teased the big reveal in the promotion for the upcoming book?
If Requiem isn’t Nebula, there are still a few more candidates. Gamora has been on the side of the heroes for the past decade or so, but her alignment isn’t so black and white, and she can be quite driven when she wants something. In this case, that something is the Soul Stone, which still contains a portion of her own soul. She has already split from the Guardians of the Galaxy in order to find the corrupted Stone.
Starting off with the death of Thanos shows that Infinity Wars isn’t messing around, but we can expect more big deaths than just the Mad Titan. Marvel’s official reading list for the crossover event lists Fallen Guardian #1 for a December release. We don’t know much else about the issue except its title, but that alone suggests that one of the Guardians of the Galaxy is going to meet the same fate as Thanos. Our money’s on Drax, considering how much care and attention Gerry Duggan has put into the Destroyer’s character over the past year, but it really could be anyone and given how easily Requiem took out The Mad Titan, no one is safe from her blade.
Marvel’s Infinity Wars #1 is out now.
Kieran Shiach is a Salford, U.K.-based freelance writer and one half of Good Egg Podcasts. He is on Twitter, @KingImpulse. He wishes in the past he tried more things ’cause now he knows being in trouble is a fake idea.