This Week’s Pick: Thanos #18 (Marvel Comics)
Runners Up: The Immortal Men #1 (DC Comics), VS #3 (Image Comics)
When the previous issue of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Thanos was reviewed in this column, I mentioned an apparent shift in tone from a fun, classic Marvel book to something much deeper. The current issue not only continues this trend, but highlights how the reader’s desensitization to mass destruction created that initial reaction. Six months ago, I never would have thought that Jeff Lemire’s run would be topped with an alternate reality storyline; It was. Thanos Wins, in a gloriously tight six issues, has become my favorite tale of the The Mad Titan. While the implications of The Infinity Gauntlet will always ring true throughout superherodom, Thanos Wins perfectly exhibits the most interesting aspects of the title character, while adding some wonderful additions to the Marvel Multiverse. The alternate reality setting acts as a liberating force, allowing the storytellers to hit all of the notes in a short period of time. Cates and Shaw put on a clinic of how to write effective monthly comics, and even some solid writers should be taking notes. I had no intention to read Cates’ upcoming Venom relaunch, but I sure do now.
The Immortal Men does not start off with a bang. Honestly, two pages in, I would not have imagined it making the list. When I read a little further, I was surprised to find one of the best entries in DC’s New Age of Heroes initiative. Every time I type that, it sounds like the announcer from Marvel vs. Capcom 2 in my head. Sorry, I got distracted. Anyway, The Immortal Men ends up feeling like the first act of a cool movie, and though it is a touch overwrought, this is somewhat necessary as the large cast is made up almost entirely of new characters. There is a cameo (perhaps more) that will get Metal fans chomping at the bit about halfway through too. Jim Lee and Scott Williams provide art, which retains the qualities of Lee’s Rebirth work. James Tynion IV comes in on the script, though it is clear that this is an art driven title.
Last comes VS, from Ivan Brandon and Esad Ribic. This issue continues its action packed narrative, but honestly, there’s one reason it made the list this week. Esad Ribic is doing some of the best work of his already impressive career, and that is no better exemplified than in this issue. If you’re looking for something new and fun, this is the place to look.