Review of Thanos: Death Sentence by Stuart Moore

A new life for the Mad Titan! Thanos’s pursuit of the Infinity Gems has always defined him. But when the Marvel heroes defeat him once again, Thanos’s beloved Mistress Death grants him one final chance. Stripped of his powers and his old skin, Thanos embarks on a cosmic walkabout to reassert his power over himself and the Multiverse. This all-new, original tale explores the inner life of one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. Haunted by family – or the semblances of it – the Mad Titan may become something else entirely. Will he maintain his illusions of grandeur, or is this a new path for a lost god?

Firstly I would like to thank Titan Books for the opportunity to read this book for review. I’m feeling the love for the Avengers at the moment, especially with the trailer for Endgame recently dropping, so this release comes at an opportune time. Movie tie-in’s are often tricky. Being able to bring something new to an established multiverse without stepping on the toes of the big productions isn’t easy, but in fairness Death Sentence does this well. It’s accessible enough that if you’re just into the movies you won’t feel lost, as there are plenty of nods to fan favourites and cameos that will make you smile. Similarly there is plenty for more established fans of the Marvelverse with the inclusion of characters from the Black Order and a section dedicated to the Kree.

Separated into four parts we start with Thanos as the Titan we all know so well, an epic space battle worthy of the finale of any Avengers movie. I sped through the pages as it was fantastic science fiction writing, big in scope with unexpected turns, Thanos’s brush with Lady Death, is chilling and more than a little creepy. This is not one for the kids. The premise is set up strongly with the haunting shade of his mother as an unofficial patron of his downfall. Thanos, stripped of everything that made him Titan, needs to try and rediscover himself through the trials of the next sections of the book.

So it was a shame that after such a strong start that the middle sections weren’t quite up to the same standard. The set pieces whilst stunning didn’t have much feel or depth to them. There was lots happening but the narrative wasn’t strong enough in these parts to hold it together with feeling, it felt a little clumsy at times. This may have been partially by design though, as indeed Thanos chides himself for his lack of forethought at one point, but much of the story didn’t feel cohesive, and I was left wondering what he was meant to be learning from the situations he is dropped into. The final section pulled it back for me though, it gave Thanos the chance to actually develop as a character and gave him an arc, an opportunity to fulfil the burden placed upon him and rise him up from his existential crisis. It actually achieved the feat of almost making him pretty likeable.

Death Sentence was very much a book of two halves, it’s an enjoyable read and despite its near 400 pages it doesn’t feel heavy. If you’re a Marvel fan then I think that this will be the perfect interlude to keep you going to the next movie. It’s pretty crowd pleasing and may make you look at Thanos in a different light.

3*

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