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Marvel NOW!

Tuesday Q&A: Jason Aaron

The Thanos Rising writer prepares to tell the definitive origin of the Mad Titan!

Thanos Rising #1 cover by Simone Bianchi

By Tim O’Shea

This week, writer Jason Aaron unleashes the first issue of THANOS RISING, the definitive cosmic revelation of Thanos’ origin. Artist Simone Bianchi collaborates on the five-issue limited series. The scope of the origin sounds characteristically ambitious for the writer, while also aiming to appeal to fans old and new.

In order to best explain the dark depths and magnitude of evil which permeates this project, Aaron took some time for a round of Marvel.com questions, confiding—among other things—that he finds Thanos to be a romantic at heart. He also divulges some of the best lines from his favorite serial killer movie.

Marvel.com: As the writer who recently made a God Butcher sympathetic and Dog someone to feel sorry for, I have to wonder--are you going to try to do the same with a cosmic mass murderer like Thanos?

Jason Aaron: It'll be up to the reader how sympathetic you find the guy. I think there's something there to sympathize with, especially when he's a kid. But Thanos also does some pretty horrible things along the way, so you may suffer a bit for that sympathy. There's a great bit in “Manhunter,” which I would rank as my all-time favorite serial killer movie: "My heart bleeds for him, as a child. Someone took a kid and manufactured a monster. At the same time, as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to pursue trivial fantasies. As an adult, someone should blow the sick [expletive] out of his socks."

Marvel.com: How important was it to you to make this origin story something accessible to people that may have not read any of the many past cosmic tales of Thanos?

Jason Aaron: That was the main idea. A lot of people are talking about Thanos these days, with him popping up in the Avengers movie and with him playing a big role in Marvel's Infinity event later this year. But probably not a lot of people could tell you Thanos' origin. So this is a story for fans new and old, and it'll have dark surprises for both.

Thanos Rising #1 variant cover by Marko Djurdjevic

Marvel.com: Is this your first chance to explore the cosmic spectrum of the Marvel universe and what does entering this realm allow you to do as a storyteller?

Jason Aaron: Yeah, this is my first true cosmic foray, though I think this story is kind of similar to what I did a few years ago in BLACK PANTHER [during Secret Invasion]. It's part sci fi, part bare-bones grittiness. It's also sort of like what I've been doing in THOR: GOD OF THUNDER with the God Butcher epic, only darker, if you can believe it. I want it to be very dark and real and emotional, while still set in an amazing underground city on a moon of Saturn and throughout the sci-fi corners of the Marvel Universe cosmos.

Marvel.com: You're teaming with Simone Bianchi on this project. Which has surprised you more, his talent for executing such amazing sci-fi settings or his ability to delve into horror just as seamlessly with some scenes?

Jason Aaron: The combo, really. It's rare to find a guy who can so effortlessly pull off both of those. But Simone certainly can. He gives you crazy, imaginative costumes and settings, but nails the little moments as well, the emotional beats and all the disturbing little bits. And he's been fired up about this project from the get-go.

Marvel.com: Back in January when you first spoke with Marvel.com about this project you said this is the "chance to do as dark and creepy a story as I've ever done for Marvel…There are no good guys swooping in to save the day here." How much fun is it to be able to go headfirst into the darkness?

Jason Aaron: More fun than I should probably admit. What can I say, I'm a disturbed guy.

Thanos Rising #2 cover by Simone Bianchi

Marvel.com: Also in that interview, you mentioned an interest in "playing around a bit with the dark romance part of the character's history." How tough is it to infuse romance in a serial killer's origin?

Jason Aaron: Not as hard as you might expect. The story of Thanos has to have that romance. That's at the very heart of who Thanos is and what makes him so different from your generic alien bad guy who comes to earth to conquer for no real reason at all. Thanos is, in my mind, a romantic at heart. And in some sense, his only crime was that he loved too much. Well, that and all the murders.

Marvel.com: Thanos is not the kind of guy you imagine having a mom. Beyond the obviously critical role of giving birth to him, how vital is Sui-San to your story?

Jason Aaron: She plays a pivotal role for Thanos in a couple of ways. One of course is that birth scene, which takes a rather weird turn. And then there's the scene that comes at the end of issue #2, which you'll just have to wait and see for yourself.

Marvel.com: Speaking of family, how much do you utilize Kronos? He's a one-of-a-kind character in many ways, least of which not every grandfather ultimately goes to all the effort to make Drax the Destroyer to try to kill his grandchild.

Jason Aaron: Kronos makes a few appearances, yeah. Thanos' family is certainly a big part of the story. And while we won't see Drax himself pop up, the drama of the decision to create Drax will be explored.

Thanos Rising #2 variant cover by Ed McGuinness

Marvel.com: An odd question to ask about someone as evil as Thanos, but are there certain qualities about the character that readers may actually admire?

Jason Aaron: Umm, I hope not.

Marvel.com: You're a man of diverse musical tastes, so I relish knowing what music is the perfect companion for THANOS RISING?

Jason Aaron: Something dark and emotional. Townes van Zandt. Springsteen's “Ghost of Tom Joad” or “Nebraska” albums. Nick Cave.

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I liked Thanos Rising, but didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. The problem was that Thanos already mentioned his origins back in Thanos 001 (2003), it came from his mouth. Then this guy comes and changes everything. I feel this was a step in the wrong direction.