Graphic Novel Review: Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Avengers Redux

Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Avengers Redux

Marvel Platinum: The Definitive Avengers Redux - Credit: Archant

Marvel’s mightiest heroes versus Thanos. ‘Nuff said.

(Panini Books)

The mad god Thanos, lover of Death and wielder of the Infinity Gauntlet, is one of the deadliest foes the Avengers have ever faced, both in comics and on the big screen, and the character for whom creator Jim Starlin is certainly best known.

To celebrate the release of the Infinity War movie, Panini have put together a compilation of some of their greatest battles, cosmic confrontations of cataclysmic potential which also feature the likes of Captain Mar-Vell, Spider-Man, the Thing and the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Although the Avengers’ name is on the cover, make no mistake, this is Thanos’ story, and we are all the better for this journey through his brutal career. Unlike DC’s similar-looking Darkseid, there’s a sense of pathos and nobility about his counterpart, albeit traits which have been virtually crushed out in his quest for the ultimate annihilation of all life.

Although it skips his earliest appearances in Iron Man, the issues collected here unquestionably include not only some of the all-time greatest Thanos stories, but also some of the stand-out strips in the Avengers’ half-century publication history.

Starlin proves his career-defining talent for cosmic epics in the Avengers/Captain Marvel stoyrline, one of the very earliest examples of a multi-title crossover, a trick he repeated in the 1977 Avengers and Marvel Two-in-One annuals, this time also drawing Spidey, Adam Warlock and the Thing into the fray.

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These tales of Thanos’ first incarnation are benchmarks for the character and superhero comics in general, and ultimately proved that the mad Titan was best handled by his creator, with other writers never quite capturing the blend of nihilism and ambition which Starlin achieves.

The other stories contained in this book include a Brian Michael Bendis team-up between the Avengers and the Guardians and a hopelessly-outmatched Spider-Man’s clash with Thanos, which are decent enough, but you’re really paying the entry fee for the Starlin strips.

The Platinum line shows no signs of slowing down, with a fresh volume of skilfully blended issues accompanying every new Marvel movie, and our collections of graphic novels are all the richer as a result. Exquisite.