In a prequel to Marvels Infinity War, Barry Lyga writes a non-canon backstory of Thanos that illustrates how Thanos becomes the intergalactic warlord we know him to be in Marvel’s Avenger: Infinity War THANOS: Titan Consumed.

On Titan, Thanos is born with genetic mutations – purple skin and a series of vertical ridges on his face – that mark him as a deviant. Thanos is also born a genius. This combination causes Thanos to become an outcast. Purple is the color of death on Titan which causes citizens to fear him.

Thanos’ father A’Lars decides that what is best for Thanos is to have Thanos separated from society essentially for his own safety. A’Lars even goes and finds Thanos a friend to help him to stave off any loneliness that may occur in this imposed exile.

Through a series of events, Thanos realizes that Titan is facing an ecological disaster primarily due to over population. Thanos, using state of the art technology, presents a solution to this inevitable disaster directly to the citizens – that 50% of the population must die, if not, then the planet Titan itself will die. This presentation causes extreme fear to go through Titan – the punishment for causing this panic is to send Thanos into exile off the planet.

While in exile, Titan succumbs to the fate that Thanos had warned about. Upon learning this, Thanos goes on a mission to save planets in the universe from the same fate. He gives each planet an option; either they willingly kill off 50% of their population or Thanos would kill everyone on the planet.

This initially begins as a slow process, but Thanos soon learns of a faster way to save, essentially, the universe – or, at least every advanced civilization in the universe – and that is by collecting the infinity stones.

Overall the book is enjoyable despite several disturbing scenes that showcase how cold-hearted Thanos is. Barry Lyga’s ability to novelize comic book characters is phenomenal, (see Lyga’s recent middle grade Flash trilogy as an example). My primary critique however is in regards to the story itself. Since every advanced civilization is destined to the same catastrophic fate – doesn’t that suggest that this ‘fate’ isn’t unnatural but, rather, natural? Thanos can’t seem to discover one planet that an ecological disaster isn’t that outcome of civilization, therefore he believes the only way to save them all is to wipe out 50% of the population off of all of them.

Thanos epitomizes the type of ideology that you’d find on the Georgia Guidestones.

Thanos believes he is doing good, yet he also delights in being a destroyer of worlds. Thanos goes through a terrifying transformation through the book while on this self imposed mission. He becomes an example of the phrase, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” He believes the genocides that he is carrying out is the only viable option to an idealized universe. Thanos is never quite presented as pure villain or hero. His existence and self imposed duty lies in a moral gray area. His belief that destruction is the only way to save the universe seems contradictory – but Thanos doesn’t see it that way. He see’s it as the only way to bring balance back to universe and no one, not even his close friends can stand in his way of restoring this balance.

This book is certainly worth your time if you want to have an understanding of what made Thanos the type of being we know him today.