Thanos Annual #1: Review

Jun 2024
Derek Landy, Salvador Larroca

Story Name:

The Infinity Watch

Review & Comments

Rating:
4 stars

Thanos Annual #1 Review by (June 28, 2024)
This is part 1 of an event running through this year's Annuals. The event is called Infinity Watch, as is the main story here. The 9 Annuals also have a short backup story in 9 parts called the Death Stone Saga.
Only 3 of the 5 known Infinity Stone bearers on the cover actually appear in this comic.

The 6 Infinity Stones were released to find their own destinies at the end of the Infinity Wars event. The Time Stone immediately bonded with Overtime in the epilogue Infinity Wars: Infinity 1-shot and he featured in Wolverine: Infinity Watch #2-5. Mystery man Quantum appeared with the Space Stone in Miles Morales Spider-Man #7-9. Then existing Captain Marvel (2019) villain Star got the Reality Stone in #11. Star then went on to her own mini-series and joined a villainous Thunderbolts team for their King In Black tie-in mini-series.

All 3 (but mainly Star) were involved in the Infinite Destinies event across the 2021 Annuals, followed by the Infinity Score story arc in Black Cat's 2020 series. Since then they've gone quieter, with Quantum returning to MMSM for #34-35 and Star popping in to Spider Woman (2023) #6.

Note that the Quantum in this issue is from the future, but the current version will probably crop up later in the Annuals event.

This Nighthawk is 1 of the simulacrum Squadron Supreme Of America created by Mephisto during the 2018-2023 Avengers series. Partway through that series Mephisto also temporarily created an alternate reality (in the 2021 Heroes Reborn event) in which the Squadron were the prime superhero group rather than the Avengers. It is this reality which NH remembers and is trying to get back using the Infinity Stones. His previous attempts were in the Infinite Fury backup story in the Infinite Destinies Annuals and in Black Cat's Infinity Score arc which ended with his Infinity Stone Scanner wrecked. After that he joined the Avengers to oppose Mephisto through to the end of that long run.

SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson was killed by Deadpool (in his (2015) #31) during the Secret Empire event. Mephisto resurrected him to run the Squadron including using the Pandemonium Cube to create the alternate reality mentioned above. But he was trapped in the PC when that reality collapsed in the Heroes Return 1-shot. So exactly who is the Coulson being resurrected from a grave in Wisconsin?





 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Thanos Annual #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue begins with a brief resume of Thanos' life. According to the Thanos Rising mini-series in his early life on Titan he was a shy intellectual kid who didn't commit his 1st murders (scientific dissections) until his late teens. He'd fallen in love with Death (she effectively seduced him) and set out on his life course to woo her by sacrificing worlds to her. But he's also returned from death (and near-death) several times so his relationship with her is complicated. (And she's nearly always been cold towards him.) Lately she's spurned his love, and in his recent mini-series he ended up trapping her in a black gemstone ...

... which he now calls the Death Stone, a new member of the Infinity Stones. We see him finishing ravaging another world, but he can't get the Death Stone to actually kill for him. So he decides to once again gather the other 6 Infinity Stones because they tend to reinforce each other's powers.

Recently (Infinity Wars #6) the Stones were granted sentience by Adam Warlock and scattered, and this time they merged with various beings:- the Time Stone with Hector Bautista who takes the super-id Overtime (Infinity Wars: Infinity 1-shot), Space with someone only known as Quantum (Miles Morales Spider-Man #7), Reality with Ripley Ryan/Star (Captain Marvel (2019) #11), Power with the Prince Of Power (as revealed in Guardians Of The Galaxy (2020) #12) and the Soul Stone with a robot who calls himself Ward but takes the id Multitude (2021 Avengers Annual). We don't know what has happened to the Mind Stone.

Anyway the story proper begins in a Coffee Shop where a young man can't get the shop's app on his phone to work - he says he's no good with things. The friendly young woman at the desk says he can order from her, no extra charge, but he says he's not very good with people either. She grins and asks what he wants, but he's baffled by the multiple options. An older man pushes him aside because he's taking too long and demands a latte, but the staffer claims they're out of coffee and recommends another place half a block away. He storms out and the young guy asks for a latte too, which she supplies.

He's carrying his coffee in a cup and saucer when a young woman invites him to join her at her table. She comments that the preceding was like a scene out of a Rom-Com. She insists that he knows she's Star in the same way that she knows he's Quantum because of the blue Space Stone inside him that lets him teleport. She's got the Reality Stone and she feels that it's stronger now that they're together.

Then Thanos appears and Star is immediately cowed. Quantum says that he felt Star was different but Thanos is even more different. The Titan offers to tell them all about their Stones if they come with him. But Ripley Ryan has regained her composure and tells him 'No' to his face, including Quantum in her stand. She also comments that she can tell that his Stone isn't part of him like theirs are. And she stands on her chair as she uses the Reality Stone to involve them in the 'floor is lava' game but with with real lava. Quantum teleports out of danger as the lava laps around Thanos' ankles. He claims that it's merely uncomfortable but still steps onto a chair as Star moves up to a table and switches into costume. However she realises that it's now very hot and affecting her lungs so she wishes the lava away.

Thanos claims that every time she uses the power it weakens her, but she goes into hovering mode crackling with energy to refute that and demands to see his Stone which she can sense but doesn't recognise. He manifests it in his hand and it emits dark energy which attacks Star but also others in the cafe. He tells them it is the touch of Death. But a costumed figure 'bwomps' in and takes the friendly cashier away to a wooded area. She's still frightened, even when he wills his head-covering away to reveal that he's the youth she was kind too. Then he teleports back into the shop but finds it deserted. But then another voice addresses him as Quantum.

However our attention switches to Thanos' huge spacecraft Sanctuary where Star is strapped to an operating table. The voiceover from the history lesson returns to add that when he was young he was asked in school to dissect a lizard and it made him sick. But (initially under Death's urging) he later dissected people. Now he's done something to stop Star using her Stone and now he's going to cut her open to discover how it's bonded to her. And he's not using anaesthetic so there's lots of screaming. He doesn't work out how it works but he does extract the Reality Stone. And she of course is dead. But then the Stone disappears out of his forceps ...

... and is seen in the hand of a new costumed figure, Overtime the Time Stone bearer, with Quantum by his side. Thanos is about to attack them when Overtime brings in backup by swapping the dead Star for the live 1 from earlier, now free of her restraints. She immediately suggests Quantum go find a weapon and then causes the Titan's hand to seal over the Death Stone before she starts pummelling him with force-fists. And Quantum returns with a futuristic double-headed axe, and teleports around hitting the foe from different angles until he buries a blade in his back. Thanos pulls it free and throws it at Quantum and Star but Overtime intercedes and somehow sends it back to slice into his shoulder.

The voiceover returns to inform us that Thanos knows that the Time Stone must always be dealt with 1st. And he always keeps a handy chrono-fish which *eats* time-travellers, which he now sics on Hector Bautista. The voiceover rates the teleporter as the next most dangerous but says that Thanos' technique here is to predict Quantum's porting strategy and move fast enough to hit him as he emerges. So he strikes at Q with the axe, embedding it in a wall as he disappears to emerge behind the Titan just where a massive fist is waiting to KO him. Groggy Star attacks Thanos physically but he bats her away and throws a metal wall at her, which she changes into a cloud of butterflies. But then he grabs her head and squeezes.

Meanwhile we've seen Overtime battling the chrono-fish in out-of-sequence images as they shift through time. The large fish bites an arm. OT is pulling the axe out of its bleeding carcass. The fish is biting his leg as he reaches for the axe stuck in the wall. OT pants from exertion with the axe buried in the not-yet-bleeding body. Then Thanos punches his jaw when it's all over.

The Mad Titan stands over 3 beaten foes (and the fish) and talks to the Death Stone in his hand. He can sense that the proximity of 3 other Stones has made it stronger, and that now it *wants* to kill. But now he doesn't want his foes dead. Instead he wants the Stone to learn how to merge with a host like the others. He wants to consummate his love for Death by *becoming* Death, the Destroyer Of Worlds ...

... But the Death Stone has other ideas. It leaves his hand and the spaceship and heads elsewhere. And Quantum teleports the Stone bearers away to Earth. Star wishes she'd had a camera to capture the look on Thanos' face when that happened. But then she remembers who she is and creates such a photograph. She thanks Overtime but he now lets them know that he's actually from the future. He advises them to link up with the current Overtime in Queens. His parting remark as he heads back to the future is that he's glad he could change things so she's alive. And it finally dawns on Riley that she was dead.

The voiceover now watches Thanos brooding over the fact that Death(stone) has abandoned him for another host. And it wonders what the Mad Titan will do now.


But there's a short 2nd tale which is part 1 of a continuing Annuals backup story called the Death Stone Saga.
The writer is Derek Landy as above, but the other creators are different:- Artist Sara Pichelli, colours Mattia Iacono, letters Travis Lanham.

In Wisconsin Nighthawk (of the Squadron Supreme that Mephisto created during the 2018 Avengers series) is recalling the universe as it *should be* (ie the universe in the 2021 Heroes Reborn event which Mephisto created for (an alternate version of) the Squadron but which this NH remembers). And he's resuming his quest for Infinity Stones to help him get that universe back. His Infinity Stone Scanner was destroyed (in the Giant-Size Black Cat: Infinity Score 1-shot) and it's taken him a long while to recreate it, and now it's led him to a graveyard here. He knows that the Space, Reality and Time Stones have all bonded with hosts, but (as far as he's aware) the Mind, Power and Soul Stones are still up for grabs.

But when he finds a black Stone hovering over a grave he knows that it isn't 1 of the Infinity Stones he knows about. And it's not going to find a live host here. Moreover the 6 Stones are created at the birth of each universe, and there can't be more! He reaches out for it but it zaps him. Then a skeleton rises up from the grave, dressed in the (tattered) clothes it was buried in. The Death Stone (for such it is) dives into the bony chest and begins to reknit the flesh on the bones until a living man stands before Kyle Richmond. He recognises him (and we see the gravestone of Phil Coulson). This is the man who Mephisto brought back from a previous death to run the Squadron.



Salvador Larroca
Salvador Larroca
Guru-eFX
Salvador Larroca (Cover Penciler)
Salvador Larroca (Cover Inker)
Guru-eFX (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Cory Petit.
Editor: Nick Lowe. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Phil Coulson
Phil Coulson

(Cheese)

Plus: Nighthawk (of SSOA), Overtime (Hector Bautista), Quantum, Star.

> Thanos Annual: Book info and issue index

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