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The Thanos Imperative: Beginning of the End

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning prepare for the epic conclusion of their cosmic saga

By Chris Arrant

Since his inception over 35 years ago, Thanos has been one of the biggest cosmic threats in the Marvel Universe. He's tried to both kill and conquer all of reality on multiple occasions, most notably in the classic INFINITY GAUNTLET limited series. But in THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, he's become the universe's last, best hope to stave off an invasion from a separate reality called the Cancerverse.

With issue #4 on stands now and the penultimate #5 on sale October 13, series writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning summed it up-and it's pretty grim.

"For everyone good, everything's bad, very bad," says Lanning. "The Marvel Universe is being invaded by the forces of the Cancerverse dimension, led by the awful Galactus Engine, which can take apart even the big Cosmic Abstracts; Nova and all the big-gun cosmic heroes just got wasted by Lord Mar-Vell, and, in the Cancerverse itself,  Star-Lord and the

THE THANOS IMPERATIVE #5 black and white preview art by Miguel Sepulveda
team protecting Thanos just got ambushed by a squad of Revengers sent to sanction them with extreme prejudice. It's the end of multiple universes, folks!"

The Cancerverse shows a twisted version of the Marvel Universe, corrupted by a race of demon gods and showing sinister version of Marvel's finest, including a mad Captain Marvel and an evil equivalent of the Avengers. With the Fault open between universes, this cancer threatens to spread to our reality. But where does a cosmic-scale villain and avowed worshiper of Death like Thanos fit in as a hero?

"Thanos is no hero, not at all," Abnett insists. "But he's immensely powerful and-more importantly-he's a singular being, a unique entity [that] holds the balance of power. Only he can decide the fate of two universes. It's an uncomfortable feeling that everything depends on the whim of such a dangerous, mercurial being."

Although only recently introduced, the denizens of the Cancerverse have made their self at home in the Marvel Universe like any uninvited guest would: by trashing the place. But on the cosmic scale of things, readers

THE THANOS IMPERATIVE #5 black and white preview art by Miguel Sepulveda
realize that good stories involve great bad guys, have latched onto Lord Mar-Vell and his cohorts.

"They seem to really like it," remarks Lanning about fan reception to the threat of the Cancerverse. "They like the 'Life' concept, the meta-reference of the horrors behind it all, and the fact we 'brought back' Mar-Vell without screwing up his classic death story."

In addition to the "return" of Captain Marvel, Abnett and Lanning have also been taking Marvel's cosmic cop, Nova, to new heights. The Human Rocket has emerged as a leader amongst his cosmic counterparts, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with The Silver Surfer, Quasar.

"It's brilliant that Nova is reaching the premier division of heroes," says Abnett proudly. "He's certainly got the power level and the experience now. It's nice that the classic Marvel heroes are taking him seriously. He's not a kid any more."

THE THANOS IMPERATIVE #5 black and white preview art by Miguel Sepulveda
Another young man rising to the challenge in the pages of this limited series: artist Miguel Sepulveda. After an eye-opening arc on THUNDERBOLTS, Sepulveda has left a tremendous mark on THE THANOS IMPERATIVE.

"Miguel's doing a brilliant job, and his work each issue gets better and better," raves Lanning. "Awesome scope, range, scale and dynamism, with some great character stuff thrown in too. Brilliant."

Speaking of character, that's one thing that the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe has in spades. With THE THANOS IMPERATIVE touching all corners of the universe, you can't leave out the underdog: the Guardians' Sputnik dog, Cosmo!

"He's right there in the frontline with Star-Lord, in the Cancerverse, trying to protect Thanos and not get his tail handed to him," reveals Abnett. "Things are beink very difficult for him."

THE THANOS IMPERATIVE #5 cover by Aleksi Briclot
When asked about the future of Cosmo and the entire cosmic side of Marvel at the end of THE THANOS IMPERATIVE, the writers both proved less revealing:

"We couldn't possibly comment."


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      Thanos was about to save the day before he was ridiculously killed by Drax in what I believe is still the most unbelievable turn of events. Also let me remind you of his heroics with the Infinity Watch, Infinity Abyss, the insane Thor, Infinity Crusade, etc. After Thanos Imperative I expect him to receive the 'hero's respect' that he deserves. If this doesn't happen it will be a shame! Make Mine Marvel!


      Let's all remember that Thanos did become 'Supreme Being' of our universe(reality) and voluntarily relinquished it with noble intentions. He the proceeded to heroically make amends in 'Epiphany' almost single handedly saving the universe and even becoming friends with Warlock.