Marvel’s Eternals revival continues this week with Eternals: Thanos Rises #1, a one-shot delving further into the origins of the Mad Titan—but not in the way you think.
Eternals: Thanos Rises #1 picks up on recent plot threads set by writer Kieron Gillen in the main series. With the revelation that their resurrection process requires siphoning the life force of humans on Earth, the Eternals are in an existential (and moral) crisis. Meanwhile, Thanos has returned from the dead and taken advantage of the situation. As someone who technically claims Eternal heritage through his parents, he christens himself Eternal Prime, the new ruler of his people. This one-shot in particular, though, is mainly set in the far past, documenting the circumstances that led to his birth and the current state of the Eternal race.
Accordingly, if you’re looking to check out Eternals: Thanos Rises for a new story featuring the Mad Titan, you’ll be disappointed; Thanos only appears on the cover and in a few panels where he is either an infant or draped in shadows. If there’s anything resembling a protagonist in this one-shot, it’s actually his father, A’Lars. As seen in the issue, the schism formed between himself and his brother, Zuras, led to a civil conflict within the Eternal race. A’Lars sought to propagate more Eternals through natural and synthetic means, while Zuras felt this endeavor was not necessary. Through his idealistic vision of an Eternal society based on familial love and procreation, A’Lars inadvertently created the Deviant Syndrome that is responsible for Thanos’s grotesque appearance and psychopathic tendencies. You know the phrase, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions?” That’s unfortunately the legacy of A’Lars.
As with any Eternals story, Thanos Rises is chock full of big, cosmic ideas and does very little to hold your hand through it. (Like Gillen’s main title, however, it does contain a few infographics that convey necessary exposition.) Your enjoyment of this issue will depend on whether or not you have the capacity to retain all of the lore and plotting of not just this issue, but Gillen’s ongoing Eternals run as well. I’m pretty up to date on this stuff and even I had a little trouble following some aspects. (As always, shoutout to the Marvel Database for filling in blank spots.) I definitely wouldn’t recommend this to anybody with a passing familiarity with either the Eternals or Thanos, much less newbies looking to dive in because of the upcoming MCU film. You’re better off starting from the beginning of Gillen’s run first and then coming to this.
Although I question the choice to sell Eternals: Thanos Rises as a #1 rather than just another issue of the main series—Marvel loves to slap that number on a comic just to give the veneer of a starting point—Gillen’s script continues to offer an intriguing new take on the classically obscure property. While it may not be new-reader friendly, those already following the story in progress will likely enjoy the elaboration of Thanos’s origins even if Thanos himself does not appear much at all throughout it. Artist Dustin Weaver also does a good job of approximating what Esad Ribić has established on the main title without it coming across as derivative or an exact copy; it feels epic but still kinetic in a way that Ribić’s art arguably isn’t. With an origins issue that pulls from largely established material, the biggest plus I could give Eternals: Thanos Rises #1 is that it doesn’t seem frivolous.