“Imagine you find out that the dad you never knew turned out to be the greatest monster in the universe,” says Rob Williams. “How do you deal with that information and make sure that you absolutely will not follow in his footsteps?”
The writer explores just that in THANOS: A GOD UP THERE LISTENING, a six-part Infinite Comics story with art by Iban Coello, Neil Edwards and Paco Diaz. It debuts in its entirety on July 1.
The son in question: Thane, a young man who confronted his unholy pedigree head-on in the pages of INFINITY, thus halting his father’s siege of Earth. Trapped in an amber prison, Thanos bides his time, his reign of terror momentarily suspended. For now, his son looks to the past and sifts through the wreckage of worlds, his father’s life’s work, and his own family legacy.
“This is Thane's journey to track down the living biography of Thanos the Mad Titan, to see his twisted parent's acts first hand,” explains Williams. “But can his sanity, and his goodness, survive such a journey?
“Oh, and we get to see Thanos launching an all-out war against Ego the Living Planet too. What could be more fun than that?
The innately peaceful Thane might not agree.
“I think Thane's in shock when we pick him up here,” says Williams. “It’s at the close of the events of INFINITY and he's had his death touch powers activated, he's inadvertently killed an entire Inhuman city and has come face to face with Thanos, his father. But before he can even begin to deal with all this he imprisons Thanos and is left alone—aside from Thanos' Grima Wormtongue-like advisor Ebony Maw. Thane needs to know who his father was, just so he can ensure that he doesn't follow in his bloody path.
“And so Ebony Maw tells Thane about the location of an alien who was once part of Thanos' crew and who records experience within his DNA. Telepathically bond with this alien and you are transported to the past. So Thane gets to watch Thanos in action. The past becoming the present. He's going to spend some daddy time with the baddest dad this reality has to offer. Thane's trying to find out who he is. Is he the healer he always thought he was? Or something more?”
This all plays out in the dynamic Infinite Comics format, a first for the writer.
“That's been very interesting,” Williams notes. “For a start, it's the first time I've written 'Marvel-style.' I'm usually a full script devotee. It felt a little scary turning over all the visual breakdowns to someone else. But it makes you concentrate more on the major character arcs. Then, once the book has been storyboarded, the artist works over the top of those breakdowns, and then I rejig my dialogue to better fit the visuals. It's a positive thing to try new ways of writing after being in a comfort zone with your process. And to see the Infinite Comic bring it all alive on the digital 'page' is pretty cool. It's been fun.”
No stranger to the format, artist Paco Diaz previously worked on WOLVERINE: JAPAN’S MOST WANTED.
“I think this is part of the future,” he says. “To have these new tools to tell a great story, I think it's always positive and at the same time exciting.”
Neil Edwards agrees: “I'm constantly amazed when you see the finished episode come together, it's really incredible and the effects and swipes really add to the epic storytelling of the episode. Working on this one has been amazing! Thanos is the biggest of big bads in the Marvel Universe so any opportunity to get to draw him is an absolute must.”
And what does Thanos seek over the course of the story? The grandest of trophies: a sentient planet.
“It should be a strange, otherworldly experience,” Williams says of the glorious cosmic chase. “It's just the most fun you can have in the Marvel Universe: This fantastic, crazy concept of a living planet with a face the size of a solar system. And that face, made up of great mountain ranges, moves as he smiles, frowns, blows raspberries at passing comets. The idea of a 'Living Planet' is deeply offensive to Thanos, so he goes on a White Whale-style crusade to hunt and kill Ego. Thanos offers to create an undead planet for his bride, Death, and that they'll use it as their corpulent flagship of suffering, flying around the universe together, hand in hand. The smooth-talking devil; Thanos knows how to woo a lady.”
THANOS: A GOD UP THERE LISTENING debuts in the Infinite Comics format on Tuesday, July 1