Thanos: Titan Consumed by Barry Lyga follows the Marvel villain from his earliest days to the finalization of his plans for universal balance. Lyga shows how a superior intellect and an isolated upbringing combined to create an especially driven and ruthless villain. The interesting part of Thanos’ story is that he honestly believes he is doing the right thing. In his eyes, he is saving half the universe instead of letting the whole thing die. Thanos is quite certain that he is the hero of his story and Lyga’s attempt to convince the readers of the same thing makes for an enjoyable read.
[Warning: My review of Barry Lyga’s Thanos: Titan Consumed contains some spoilers!]
A brutal yet enjoyable ride
Unlike some of the other Marvel novels, this one introduces the canonical confines early on. Everyone knows that Thanos is going to try to kill off half the universe’s population. By acknowledging it early, Lyga actually opened up the storytelling nicely. Instead of spending the whole story building to Thanos realizing he “has” to kill half of all life in the universe, he comes to the realization very early on.
In fact, his realization and attempted implementation of this plan are the catalysts for the rest of the story. Once Thanos decides his mission is to “save” the universe we get to go along for a brutal yet enjoyable ride.
A titanic childhood
At first, Thanos is singularly devoted to saving his home planet of Titan. Titan is a planet that is not much different from Earth at this point. The planet has massive problems including overpopulation, dwindling resources, and climate change. With all those problems, the worst is that the population is ignoring them all.
Those in charge are pretending that they can build their way out of their problems, presenting this as a simple solution. Thanos comes to the radical but mathematically irrefutable conclusion that the world will end, most likely soon, unless the population is drastically reduced. His intellect allows him to see the problem and his emotionally stunted heart allows him to push for the “obvious” solution: randomly killing half the population.
Of course, the rest of his home world is disgusted with Thanos and his solution and they tell him exactly where to get off. As in, get off the planet. They exile him. At this point, I think his desire to save the planet becomes mixed with a healthy dose of ego. Thanos becomes obsessed with returning to his home and forcing them to accept his genocidal plan at any cost. And so begins the meat of the story…
A broken road
Thanos’s return to Titan is slowed by one adventure after another. When he finally returns home it’s too late. Thanos was proven right, his whole world is dead. His anger causes him to change course slightly. If he cannot save his home, the next best thing is to save other planets in similar positions. But now, instead of killing off half a world’s population, he kills every last person. He kills his way across the galaxy, making and breaking alliances as he goes.
Eventually, Thanos comes to the conclusion that the universe is too massive and his method too slow. In order to “save everyone,” he has to find a way to implement his plan across the entire universe simultaneously. Thanos hears rumors of something that might be able to do just that. Eventually, he tracks down the information he needs and his mission again takes a turn. Thanos then begins searching for the Infinity Stones… dun-dun-duuuuhhhh!!
The why is more interesting than the how sometimes
Thanos’s adventures in this book are great. He goes to exciting places, meets interesting people, and uses both intellect and strength to overcome his challenges. As the main character, we are already poised to like him even though we know he’s a bad guy.
Barry Lyga also chooses to start the story while Thanos is just a boy. Because we meet Thanos so early we see how he endured what was basically racism and definitely emotional abuse. His mother experienced a breakdown when she saw him and his father never truly bothered with him.
Thanos was kept completely isolated for most of his life. We realize that these events kept him from developing any emotional intelligence to go with his academic intelligence.
Lyga’s exploration of Thanos’s childhood shows us how he was able to kill whole civilizations without remorse and still see himself as the hero of his story. It is arguably more interesting than all the adventures that come later in the book. This is partly because it is the reason for all the other adventures that come later. And partly because the why is almost always more interesting than the how. Especially for such extreme hows.
Titan consumed or a Titan consumed?
Thanos: Titan Consumed is a good read. It has a nice pace and easy style perfect for a summer read by the pool. Lyga spins epic adventures out in the wide universe and inside a fascinating mind. Thanos is obsessed with saving the universe, but is it because he truly wants to save the world or because he just wants to be proven right? In the end, the planet Titan is consumed, however, I believe that the Titan consumed in the title is Thanos himself.
Have you read Thanos: Titan Consumed? What did you think? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter! And if you haven’t already, check out my latest book review of Mackenzi Lee’s Gamora and Nebula: Sister in Arms!