26 Apr 2018


Matt C: Introduced in Iron Man #55 by writer/artist Jim Starlin, Thanos has had a slow climb up the ladder of evil in the Marvel Universe, and perhaps now holds the position of the premier super-villain (or at the very least, he gives Doctor Doom a run for his money). Moving from the cosmic fringes into the mainstream, battling anyone who's anyone over the years, either in pursuit of the Infinity Stones, Mistress Death's affection or just general chaos and destruction, the Mad Titan continues to strike fear across the universe via his unwavering determination to his cause. His cover appearances are often variations of him looking imposing, wielding a certain gauntlet, or flashing that trademark grin of his, and although there were other contenders in the running for this countdown, these are the ten Thanos comic book covers we feel are the best of the murderous bunch.

10. SILVER SURFER #45 (1991)

Matt C: The boys are back in town! A couple of guys with mayhem on their minds; the tough guy and the joker. A perfect partnership. Only this image is just a tad misleading, because 'mayhem', to Thanos and Mephisto, equals death and destruction, and suggesting they are friends is stretching the definition of the word. And when we say 'death', we really mean Death, the feminized conceptual being whose affection may be gained through catastrophic loss of life. Their individual approach to obtaining the power required to please Death differs: Thanos goes straight for he wants, Mephisto prefers to manipulate others into getting him what he wants, but even though they're often at loggerheads (there can only be one wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet!), their twisted dynamic remains compelling, and even the uninitiated must have immense curiosity over exactly what kind of misadventures this pair could find themselves in the middle off.
9. NEW AVENGERS #24 (2014)

Kenny J: A Gabrielle Dell’Otto cover, coloured in the red of a dying planet, or maybe the universe itself. There is no bigger emergency than that and the artist’s large use of that primary colour with the several foreboding figures picked out in silhouette solicits a feeling of dread from the reader. You know these guys are up to no good, especially when the unmistakable shape of Thanos is the most prominent amongst them.
8. ANNIHILATION #4 (2007)

Kenny J: Another from Dell’Otto, and his painterly covers graced a vast number of the Annihilation tie-ins as well as the main series. As anyone who has seen Dave Batista’s hilarious depiction of Drax the Destroyer in the Guardians Of The Galaxy films knows, he is not a slight man and nor is his comic counterpart; to show Thanos towering over his would-be assassin is a striking image. The sheer power of the Avatar of Death is rendered in purple hues that contrast quite brilliantly against the green of Drax, his opponent in battle and on the spectrum.
7. INFINITY #3 Variant Cover (2013)

Kenny J: The series of Skottie Young variant covers that appeared during the Marvel NOW! 'soft' relaunch were not only funny representations of characters but some also gave us hints to the story within. The third installment of Jonathan Hickman’s very serious event was no exception. Inside, Thanos is reduced to a pulp by Black Bolt’s incredibly powerful voice in what is a highly dramatic scene, but here, although Young has shown the exact same event, it is infused with the same wit and charm that makes all these covers desirable and provides a funny take on Thanos that we rarely see.
6. WARLOCK #15 (1976)

Matt C: Writer Jim Starlin underscored Thanos' villainy during the short-lived Warlock series in the '70s, cementing his position in a wider cosmic universe and solidifying his links with the titular hero, a relationship that, although not prominent in the contemporary Marvel Universe, was perversely symbiotic for a long period of time, their connection feeding through a number of the more significant storylines in the Mad Titan's career as a galactic megalomaniac. This issue's cover pushes him to the background, Warlock taking centre stage for obvious reasons, but Starlin's artistry awards Thanos with an imposing, demonic presence, and the other characters featured (including Gamora and Pip the Troll) help achieve an effect that many comic covers strive for: tease with mystery, excitement, danger and adventure and indicate that you should ignore the contents of the book at your peril.
5. AVENGERS #125 (1974)

Kenny J: If you are looking for a comic that reflects the premise of Avengers: Infinity War then perhaps Avengers #125 might be the one. Ron Wilson’s cover is full of those '70s techniques that makes the era instantly recognisable, the most prominent part here being the insurmountable threat posed by the oversized head of Thanos. The four heroes draw the eye back to the centre as they reach up to attack the enormous visage. All this surrounded in the unmistakable Kirby Krackle that accompanied so many of the period's cosmic stories.
4. SILVER SURFER #34 (1990)

Matt C: Thanos returns. After experiencing a death of sorts in Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2, writer Jim Starlin resurrected one of his most memorable creations over a decade later, re-establishing his villainy and starting the ball rolling towards the events of Infinity Gauntlet. This image, from the redoubtable Ron Lim, easily indicates the threat Thanos presents, dwarfing the Silver Surfer, who probably has little idea of exactly what this cosmic rebirth will result in. At first, Thanos' features seem to contain a wild-eyed madness, suggesting a being that cannot be reasoned with, but look again: it's there. That grin. This is a man who will lay waste to what lies ahead of him, and have fun whilst doing it. A quintessential Marvel villain.
3. THANOS #2 (2016)

Matt C: In some ways, this image is a cheat; without knowledge of Thanos you may be forgiven for assuming you're looking at a godlike being admiring the beauty of creation, the butterfly representing life and transformation, floating away, free. And maybe that's part of it; even the destroyer must take pause to marvel at that which will soon be vanquished. Nothing lasts forever. It's a beautiful, deceptive cover, but one that emphasises the majesty of Thanos, and if you do possess knowledge of who he is, and what he represents, there's a sinister undercurrent that can't be denied. Mike Deodato is at his finest here, extra life bought in by Frank Martin's lush colours, and the irony that the subject of such a wondrous illustration is the servant of death perhaps makes it that much more powerful.

Kenny J: It takes one of the titans of comic art to create an image like the one that adorns the cover of Infinity Gauntlet #1. George Perez’s iconic drawing of Thanos flexing the titular glove bedecked with the Infinity Stones is as recognisable a cover as there can be. It instantly evokes the cast of cosmos-spanning characters and the epic scope of the story that its pages contains. The shards of different aspects of the Marvel comic universe spider out from the epicentre of destruction, the Mad Titan himself, Thanos.

Matt C: When presented with with the inescapable iconography contained within the cover image of Infinity Gauntlet #1, it would seem unlikely that any other illistration could encapsulate the so-called Mad God of Titan's insatiable thirst for omnipotence so perfectly, and if it had topped this list there would few, if any, reasons to dispute its position. But that would mean ignoring the brilliance of Infinity Gauntlet #4's cover, also expertly drawn by the great George Perez, which although more succinct than its predecessor, arguably conveys the devilish audaciousness of Thanos to a higher level of perfection. Here he is, daring the entire universe to come and take a pop at it him, the mischievous grin set against an endless starfield, his ego dwarfing countless burning suns, an unstoppable force threatening the cosmos and beyond. This is Thanos: a being prepared to leave countless billions dead in his wake, but thoroughly enjoying the process of bringing carnage on an unprecedented scale to the galaxy. Utterly fearless, which makes him more dangerous than anyone else in the Marvel cannon.

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