Get Started In THANOS

Current Series  |  Latest Jumping-On Points  |  Compilations  |  1st Appearance  |  Origin Story  |  Main Publication History  |  Secondary Publication History  |  Key Storylines  |  Media Source Material  |  Key Issues

by snowbi-wan, updated Jul 2019

Thanos is the Marvel super-villain best known for his unending quest to collect the Infinity Stones in order to rule all of creation. His first comic book appearance was in 1973 in IRON MAN [1963] #55, but he has gone on to star in several mini-series, his own ongoing series, and is perhaps now best known for being the top-level villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Thanos is a mutant member of the race of superhumans known as the Titanian Eternals. The Eternals are the descendants of humans taken from prehistoric Earth (by an advanced race called the Celestials), genetically enhanced, and established in colonies throughout the galaxy. Thanos is from the colony on Titan, the moon of Saturn, and often referred to as the 'Mad Titan,' not for anger--but for his nihilistic tendencies and outrageous metaphysical schemes. He has a supergenius level intellect, has numerous advanced technologies, and the physical prowess to go toe-to-toe with Odin and Galactus, but his distinctive looks come from a disease called the Deviant Syndrome. Having achieved and lost domination of all creation and having died and been resurrected a couple times throughout Marvel's publishing history, Thanos possibly enjoys the quest for domination more than the actual achievement of it.

Related GSIs: AVENGERSCAPTAIN AMERICA (STEVE ROGERS)DOCTOR STRANGESPIDER-MAN (PETER PARKER)WOLVERINE (JAMES 'LOGAN' HOWLETT)X-MEN

Related Tags: ANNIHILATION [2006]AVENGERSAVENGERS FAMILY TITLESCAPTAIN MARVELCAPTAIN MARVEL (GENIS-VELL)CAPTAIN MARVEL (MAR-VELL)DEADPOOLGEORGE PEREZ (CA)GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXYHULKHULK (BRUCE BANNER)HULK FAMILY TITLESINFINITY GAUNTLET [1991]INFINITY WAR CROSSOVER [1992]IRON MANIRON MAN FAMILY TITLESJACK KIRBY (CA)JASON AARON (W)JIM LEE (CA)JONATHAN HICKMAN (W)LEE X-MEN TRADING CARD VARIANT COVERS [2017]MARVEL 'BRING ON THE BAD GUYS' VARIANT COVERS [2019]MARVEL 'THE END' SERIESMARVEL 80TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIALS [2019]MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE (MCU)MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE (MCU) - INSPIREDMARVEL FACSIMILE EDITIONSMARVEL HIDDEN GEM VARIANT COVERS [2018]MARVEL LEGACY HEADSHOT VARIANT COVERS [2017]MARVEL LEGACY [2017]MARVEL LENTICULAR HOMAGE VARIANT COVERS [2017]MARVEL NOW! 2.0 [2016]MARVEL NOW! [2012]MARVEL TRUE BELIEVERS REPRINTS [2015]MS. MARVELMS. MARVEL (CAROL DANVERS)OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSEPHOENIX VARIANT COVERS [2017]SCI-FISECRET WARS [2015]SECRET WARS [2015] WARZONESSHE-HULK (JENNIFER WALTERS)SILVER SURFERSPIDER-GIRLSPIDER-GIRL (MAY PARKER)SPIDER-MANSPIDER-MAN (PETER PARKER)SPIDER-MAN FAMILY TITLESTHANOSTHORVENOM 30TH ANNIVERSARY VARIANT COVERS [2018]VENOMIZED VARIANT COVERS [2017]X-MEN FAMILY TITLES

Current Series

This is a curated list of the most current series to help you get started with Thanos comic books. The series listed in this section are predominantly series of individual comic issues, but the list can include digests and softcovers (and even hardcovers) if the material is original material.

PublisherFrequencySeries 
MARVELLimited (6)THANOS [2019](3rd self-titled series; origin of Gamora)
MARVELOne-ShotMARVEL TALES: THANOS [2019](80 pages of selected Thanos reprints)

Latest Jumping-On Points

Comic books are serialized periodicals. The absolute best place to jump on with any comic series is a series beginning, but, if the run has gotten lengthy, the beginning of a new story arc or of a new creative team are other great--and perfectly acceptable--places to get started right away. This section contains a curated list of the latest issues from current and recent series where you can get started in Thanos. Look below for series beginning or start of a story arc. Subsequent sections explore the subject's publishing history and indicate other less recent places to get started in Thanos.

PLEASE NOTE: The issues presented in this section are either in-stock issues or pre-order/pre-sale issues. To get the largest discount, new comic books can be pre-ordered two months before they are published. We offer pre-sale books for issues that we plan to have in stock when they are published. If you purchase pre-order/pre-sale comics now, you will be charged now, and the comics will be shipped after they are all published. If you mix in-stock issues with pre-order/pre-sale issues, you will create two orders subject to separate shipping charges. In-stock issues will ship right away.

CoverRelease MonthSeries / Number / Storyline
THANOS #1
Quick View
Apr 2019THANOS [2019] #1   (Part 1 of 6 (mini-series beginning))UNAVAILABLE$3.24
THANOS #2
Quick View
May 2019THANOS [2019] #2   (Part 2 of 6)UNAVAILABLE$2.59
THANOS #3
Quick View
Jun 2019THANOS [2019] #3   (Part 3 of 6)UNAVAILABLE$2.59
THANOS #4
Quick View
Jul 2019THANOS [2019] #4   (Part 4 of 6)UNAVAILABLE$2.59
THANOS #5
Quick View
Aug 2019THANOS [2019] #5   (Part 5 of 6)UNAVAILABLE$2.59
THANOS #6
Quick View
Sep 2019THANOS [2019] #6   (Part 6 of 6 (mini-series end))UNAVAILABLE$2.59
      
MARVEL TALES: THANOS #1
Quick View
Apr 2019MARVEL TALES: THANOS [2019] #1   (one-shot)UNAVAILABLE$5.19

PLEASE NOTE: The issues presented in this section are either in-stock issues or pre-order/pre-sale issues. To get the largest discount, new comic books can be pre-ordered two months before they are published. We offer pre-sale books for issues that we plan to have in stock when they are published. If you purchase pre-order/pre-sale comics now, you will be charged now, and the comics will be shipped after they are all published. If you mix in-stock issues with pre-order/pre-sale issues, you will create two orders subject to separate shipping charges. In-stock issues will ship right away.

Compilations

In modern comic publishing, it's common (and expected) for individual comic book issues to be collected into compilations of trade paperbacks and/or hardcovers, as well as other special compilations. Unlike the individual source issues, the collected editions typically stay in print for long periods and are less 'collectible.' If individual issues are out of reach or are not of interest to you or if you just need reading copies, the following collected editions of Thanos comic books are the most recent in-print editions and are the perfect alternative to get started right away with Thanos. The following compilations are presented in a chronologically-based suggested reading order with softcover editions before any hardcover editions (unless the only in-print editions are hardcover--these are integrated into the softcover list).

Not all of Thanos' various appearances throughout the Marvel Universe have been collected or are currently in print. To be sure, there is a great amount of Thanos material to keep you busy. The following suggested reading order is presented in their chronological order of the original issues that make up the compilations. See the Key Storylines section to identify and start with only the most popular Thanos stories.

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CoverRelease MonthSeries / Number / Storyline
AVENGERS VS. THANOS Quick ViewFeb 2013AVENGERS VS. THANOS [2013-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  (collects his 1st and earliest appearances)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
MARVEL-VERSE: THANOS Quick ViewSep 2019MARVEL-VERSE: THANOS [2019-TPB]
  (collects his first and a few other key appearances)
UNAVAILABLE$6.49
      
SILVER SURFER: REBIRTH OF THANOS Quick ViewJun 2012SILVER SURFER: REBIRTH OF THANOS [2012-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  (prelude to the prelude to Infinity Guantlet)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
SILVER SURFER EPIC COLLECTION VOL 06: THANOS QUESTQuick ViewMay 2018SILVER SURFER EPIC COLLECTION [2018-TPB] VOL 06: THANOS QUEST
CURRENT PRINTING
  (prelude to Infinity Guantlet)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
INFINITY GAUNTLET DELUXE EDITION Quick ViewFeb 2019INFINITY GAUNTLET DELUXE EDITION [2019-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: COSMIC POWERS Quick ViewNov 2015THANOS: COSMIC POWERS [2015-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THOR VS. THANOS Quick ViewOct 2013THOR VS. THANOS [2013-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: INFINITY ABYSS Quick ViewDec 2013THANOS: INFINITY ABYSS [2013-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
MARVEL UNIVERSE: THE END Quick ViewApr 2019MARVEL UNIVERSE: THE END [2013-TPB]
2ND EDITION, CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS IMPERATIVE Quick ViewSep 2011THANOS IMPERATIVE [2011-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS RISING Quick ViewOct 2013THANOS RISING [2013-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
INFINITY Quick ViewSep 2014INFINITY [2013-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: A GOD UP THERE LISTENING Quick ViewDec 2014THANOS: A GOD UP THERE LISTENING [2014-HC]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS VS. HULK Quick ViewMay 2015THANOS VS. HULK [2015-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: THE INFINITY REVELATION Quick ViewAug 2014THANOS: THE INFINITY REVELATION [2014-HC]
CURRENT PRINTING
  (original story; 1st in a hardcover trilogy)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: THE INFINITY RELATIVITY Quick ViewJun 2015THANOS: THE INFINITY RELATIVITY [2015-HC]
CURRENT PRINTING
  (original story; 2nd in a hardcover trilogy)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: THE INFINITY FINALE Quick ViewApr 2016THANOS: THE INFINITY FINALE [2016-HC]
CURRENT PRINTING
  (original story; 3rd in a hardcover trilogy)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS VOL 01: THANOS RETURNSQuick ViewJun 2017THANOS [2017-TPB] VOL 01: THANOS RETURNS
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
THANOS VOL 02: THE GOD QUARRYQuick ViewDec 2017THANOS [2017-TPB] VOL 02: THE GOD QUARRY
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS WINS BY DONNY CATES Quick ViewJun 2018THANOS WINS BY DONNY CATES [2018-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: THE INFINITY SIBLINGS Quick ViewApr 2018THANOS: THE INFINITY SIBLINGS [2018-HC]
CURRENT PRINTING
  (original story: 1st in a 2nd hardcover trilogy)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: THE INFINITY CONFLICT Quick ViewNov 2018THANOS: THE INFINITY CONFLICT [2019-HC]
CURRENT PRINTING
  (original story: 2nd in a 2nd hardcover trilogy)
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
BLACK ORDER: THE WARMASTERS OF THANOS Quick ViewApr 2019BLACK ORDER: THE WARMASTERS OF THANOS [2019-TPB]
CURRENT PRINTING
  
Available on Amazon Go to Amazon
      
THANOS: ZERO SANCTUARY Quick ViewNov 2019THANOS: ZERO SANCTUARY [2020-TPB]
  
UNAVAILABLE$12.99
      
THANOS: THE INFINITY ENDING Quick ViewAug 2019THANOS: THE INFINITY ENDING [2019-HC]
  (original story: 3rd in a 2nd hardcover trilogy)
UNAVAILABLE$16.24

1st Appearance

The first appearance of a character in comic book form is often the most valuable issue featuring that character. It's a nice place to get started in Thanos, if it's within your budget. Thanos first appeared in IRON MAN [1968] #55, and is probably the most valuable issue of that entire series now. Another version of Thanos appeared in the Ultimate Universe, but that Universe ended with the major Marvel story event SECRET WARS [2015], with some elements integrated into the main Marvel Universe proper (i.e. Miles Morales). Thanos has actually encountered different versions of himself in the Marvel Universe proper, as well, but we leave them off the list as mere curiosities.

  • IRON MAN [1968] #55  (1st appearance of Thanos; 1st appearance of Drax the Destroyer; 1st appearance of Blood Brothers)
  • ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR [2004] #36  (1st appearance of Thanos (Ultimate Universe))

Origin Story

The original presentation of an origin story or a retelling/recounting of it can be a good place to get started with a character or subject. The 'origin' of a superhero/villain is typically the event or circumstances surrounding how they gained their powers and/or began fighting/committing crime. Thanos was introduced in IRON MAN [1968] #55, and we only get a general sense of who he is from a couple panels of backstory. Only bits and pieces of his history were told in that issue and his follow-on appearances in CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #25-33 before his initial defeat. CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #33 probably has the best first summary of Thanos' origin with another appearing in SILVER SURFER [1987] #37. However, Jason Aaron's mini-series, THANOS RISING [2013] #1-5, published 40+ years after the character's introduction would become Thanos' modern, expanded and redefining origin. The following list contains the most interesting points in Thanos' publishing history related to his origin. It continues to evolve in the modern era with the 2019 addition of a mini-series dedicated to Gamora's origin, of which Thanos is an inseparable part.

  • IRON MAN [1968] #55   (1st appearance of Thanos; 1st appearance of Drax the Destroyer; 1st appearance of Blood Brothers)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #33   (origin of Thanos retold)
  • OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE [1983] #14   (1-page character profile of Thanos)
  • OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE [1985] #20   (2-page character profile of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #37   (brief origin of Thanos)
  • THANOS RISING [2013] #1-5   (Jason Aaron's expanded origin of Thanos)
  • THANOS [2019] #1-6   (3rd self-titled series; expanded origin of Gamora)

Main Publication History

Series beginnings are always great places to get started in comic books. Here is the Main Publication History for Thanos comic books. Thanos first appeared in 1973 in IRON MAN [1968] #55 and had early follow-on appearances in CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] and other miscellaneous Marvel titles. This was his first run at cosmic domination (sometimes loosely regarded as THE FINAL THREAT storyline) and ended in 1977 (with a 2-part story actually titled THE FINAL THREAT). Thanos disappeared from publication for many years until his 'rebirth' in SILVER SURFER SURFER [1987] #34 in 1990. This began his second run at cosmic domination via his famous pursuit and acquisition of the Infinity Gauntlet. Since then, he keeps resurfacing in a rich and intricate publishing history, especially as part of any of Marvel's cosmic-related storylines.

  • IRON MAN [1968] #55   (1st appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #25-33   (early appearances of Thanos; 1st defeat of Thanos)
  • MARVEL FEATURE [1971] #12   (early appearance of Thanos)
  • AVENGERS [1963] #125   (appearance of Thanos)
  • WARLOCK [1972] #9-11, 15   (appearances of Thanos)
  • LOGAN'S RUN [1977] #6   (contains Thanos backup story)
  • AVENGERS ANNUAL [1967] #7   (THE FINAL THREAT, Part 1 of 2; appearance of Thanos; 1st appearance of all 6 Infinity Gems; deaths of Gamora, Pip, Warlock)
  • MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL [1976] #2   (THE FINAL THREAT, Part 2 of 2; appearance of Thanos; defeat/1st apparent death of Thanos)
  • SPIDEY SUPER STORIES [1974] #39   (contains Thanos story)
  • FANTASY MASTERPIECES [1979] #12-14   (contains reprints of WARLOCK [1972] #9-11)
  • WARLOCK [1982] #2-3   (contains reprints of WARLOCK [1972] #9-11)
  • WARLOCK [1982] #5   (contains reprint of AVENGERS ANNUAL [1967] #7)
  • LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL [1985] #1-5   (reprints the earliest appearances of Thanos)

  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #34-38   (rebirth of Thanos story arc)
  • THANOS QUEST [1990] #1-2   (Infinity Gauntlet precursor story)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #44-50   (Infinity Gauntlet prelude storyline)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #1-6   (1st mini-series in Jim Starlin's Infinity trilogy; Thanos obtains the Infinity Gauntlet and wipes out half of all life)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #51-59   (Infinity Gauntlet crossover issues)
  • INFINITY WAR [1992] #1-6   (2nd mini-series in Jim Starlin's Infinity trilogy)
  • WARLOCK AND THE INFINITY WATCH [1992] #8-10   (INFINITY WAR tie-in issues; appearances of Thanos)
  • MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS [1988] #108-111   (contains serialized Thanos story)
  • WHAT IF...? [1989] #49   (what if Silver Surfer possessed the Infinity Guantlet?)
  • INFINITY CRUSADE [1993] #1-6   (3rd mini-series in Jim Starlin's Infinity trilogy)
  • SECRET DEFENDERS [1993] #12-14   (Thanos story arc)
  • COSMIC POWERS [1994] #1   (Thanos issue in a mini-series of solo features)
  • COSMIC POWERS UNLIMITED [1995] #1   (Thanos story)
  • KA-ZAR [1997] #8-11   (Thanos is the shadow villain in this arc)
  • THANOS QUEST [2000] #1   (reprints THANOS QUEST [1990] #1-2)
  • THOR [1998] #21-25   (Thanos story arc)
  • THOR ANNUAL 2000 [2000]    (part of the THOR [1998] #21-25 storyline)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [2000] #17-19   (Thanos story arc)
  • AVENGERS: CELESTIAL QUEST [2001] #1-8   (Thanos hunts down and tries to kill Mantis)
  • INFINITY ABYSS [2002] #1-6   (Thanos' five clones go on mad quests of their own)
  • MARVEL UNIVERSE: THE END [2003] #1-6   (Thanos ends the Marvel Universe (out-of-continuity))
  • THANOS [2003] #1-12   (1st self-titled series from Jim Starlin, but he leaves after one arc)
  • ANNIHILATION PROLOGUE [2006] #1   (Thanos plays an important role in the major event storyline, ANNIHILATION)
  • ANNIHILATION: SILVER SURFER [2006] #1-4   
  • ANNIHILATION [2006] #1-6   
  • SHE-HULK [2005] #12-13   (Thanos story arc)
  • THANOS SOURCEBOOK [2010]    (encyclopedia-type primer for Marvel's cosmic characters)
  • THANOS IMPERATIVE: IGNITION [2010] #1   (THANOS IMPERATIVE prologue)
  • THANOS IMPERATIVE [2010] #1-6   (Thanos is resurrected, and the GotG must decide whether to kill him or ask for his help)
  • THANOS IMPERATIVE: DEVASTATION [2011] #1   (THANOS IMPERATIVE epilogue)
  • AVENGERS ASSEMBLE [2012] #6-8   (Thanos story arc)
  • THANOS RISING [2013] #1-5   (Jason Aaron's expanded origin of Thanos)
  • INFINITY [2013] #1-6   (Thanos attacks Earth while the Avengers are on a cosmic adventure)
  • THANOS ANNUAL [2014] #1   
  • THANOS: THE INFINITY REVELATION [2014-HC]    (original story; 1st volume of a hardcover trilogy)
  • THANOS: A GOD UP THERE LISTENING [2014] #1-4   (Thane, son of Thanos, wants to discover his father's history)
  • THANOS VS. HULK [2015] #1-4   
  • THANOS: THE INFINITY RELATIVITY [2015-HC]    (original story; 2rd volume of a hardcover trilogy)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [2015] #1-5   (SECRET WARS [2015] tie-in mini-series)
  • DEADPOOL VS. THANOS [2015] #1-4   
  • WHAT IF? INFINITY GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2015] #1   
  • THANOS: THE INFINITY FINALE [2016-HC]    (original story; 3rd volume of a hardcover trilogy)
  • THANOS [2017] #1-18   (2nd self-titled series from Jeff Lemire (Marvel NOW!) (#1-12) then Donny Cates' extremely popular THANOS WINS story arc (Marvel Legacy) (#13-18))
  • THANOS ANNUAL [2018] #1   
  • THANOS: THE INFINITY SIBLINGS [2018-HC]    (original story; 1st volume of a 2nd hardcover trilogy)
  • TRUE BELIEVERS: THANOS THE FIRST [2018] #1   
  • THANOS LEGACY [2018] #1   (one-shot bridging gap between the THANOS WINS story arc (THANOS [2017] #13-18) and INFINITY WARS [2018])
  • BLACK ORDER [2019] #1-5   (spotlight mini-series on Thanos' henchmen)
  • THANOS: THE INFINITY CONFLICT [2019-HC]    (original story; 2nd volume of a 2nd hardcover trilogy)
  • MARVEL TALES: THANOS [2019] #1   (80 pages of selected Thanos reprints)
  • THANOS [2019] #1-6   (3rd self-titled series; origin of Gamora)

Selected Key Storylines

This section contains a curated list of some of the best storylines for Thanos, any one of which can be a good place to get started. Thanos is most often a super-villain involved in some intricate scheme to rule the universe, but can also be cast as an anti-hero with the power to assist heroes against cosmic evils which threaten Thanos' ultimate plans. Thanos has had a long history as a pivotal character in Marvel's cosmic milieu. Each defeat is an apparent death from which he is later resurrected. For this reason, nearly all of this tales are somewhat self-contained. The list below includes some of Thanos' most popular storylines, but the cyclical nature of his quests keeps generating new starting points for fans interested in getting started in this fascinating character.

Key Storyline cover 1 for THANOSKey Storyline cover 2 for THANOSKey Storyline cover 3 for THANOSKey Storyline cover 4 for THANOS
1973CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #25-33   ('THE THANOS WAR'; Captain Marvel (Mar-vell) battles the Cosmic Cube-seeking Mad Titan)
1990SILVER SURFER [1987] #34-38   ('THE REBIRTH OF THANOS'; Thanos reappears in the Marvel Universe after 30+ publishing years, and he's after all the stones)
1990THANOS QUEST [1990] #1-2   (Infinity Gauntlet prelude; Thanos wrestles gems from their cosmic caretakers)
1990SILVER SURFER [1987] #44-50   (Infinity Gauntlet prelude storyline)
1991INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #1-6   (arguably the most defining Thanos story in Marvel history)
2003THANOS [2003] #1-6   (EPIPHANY; Jim Starlin pits Thanos vs. Galactus!)
2013THANOS RISING [2013] #1-5   (Jason Aaron's expanded origin of Thanos)
2014THANOS: THE INFINITY REVELATION [2014-HC]    (Jim Starlin crafts an awesome new beginning for Thanos in this first of a series of original hardcovers)
2015DEADPOOL VS. THANOS [2015] #1-4   (a match for the ages)
2018THANOS [2017] #13-18   (THANOS WINS; Donny Cates' modern story gem of its own introduces the Cosmic Ghost Rider and King Thanos)

Media Source Material

If you've enjoyed non-comic media for Thanos, this section describes the comic book source material for some of the most popular non-comic media. WARNING: This section may contain spoilers!

Thanos has made numerous appearances throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films and emmerges definitively as a top-level villain in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018).

Media source material cover for THANOS

Although unnamed, Thanos made his first cameo appearance in the MCU in the mid-credits scene of AVENGERS (2012). Immediately recognizable to long-time Marvel comic fans, this brief glimpse of the unmistakable Thanos sent uninitiated movie fans into a tailspin clambering for information on this somewhat unknown Marvel villain. Thanos' first comic book appearance is IRON MAN [1968] #55, but he quickly moved into the CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] series and would go on to become a key cosmic character in the Marvel Universe.

Media source material cover for THANOS

Thanos makes his first, minor story appearances in film in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014). Other key characters surrounding Thanos are also introduced in this film. The first appearance of Gamora, Thanos' adoptive daughter, in comics is STRANGE TALES [1973] #18. The first comic book appearance of Nebula is AVENGERS [1963] #257, but she claimed to be his granddaughter in comics, not his daughter. The first appearance of Ronan the Accuser is FANTASTIC FOUR [1961] #65. Although Ronan is the main villain in the movie, it appears he is ultimately working for Thanos in acquiring the orb (which contains an Infinity Stone). In comics, Thanos gathered the Infinity Gems in the 2-issue prestige mini-series, THANOS QUEST [1990] #1-2. This and two stretches of the SILVER SURFER [1987] series, #33-38 and #44-50, are all preludes to the INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] mini-series.

Media source material cover for THANOS

Although fans were maybe expecting Thanos to graduate to the main villain slot in the next Avengers movie, he only made another cameo appearance in the mid-credits scene of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (2015)...but it was a doozy. Thanos dons a gauntlet and vows to collect the Infinity Stones himself. In comics, the first appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet is SILVER SURFER [1987] #44. All six gems/stones had already made comic book appearances (see the Key Issues section for those first appearances).

Media source material cover for THANOS

Thanos finally graduates to the spotlight villain in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018). The first part of the movie, Thanos is collecting the stones himself, as vowed. The comic book source material for this is again the prelude material in THANOS QUEST [1990] #1-2 and SILVER SURFER [1987] #33-38 and #44-50. Thanos wipes out half of all life in comics in INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #1, but the rest of the series is the resolution, which is not shown in AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR. This film does introduce the Black Order, a powerful group of Thanos' henchmen. The first comic book cameo appearance of the Black Order is NEW AVENGERS [2013] #8. They make their first full comic book appearance in INFINITY [2013] #1, a major Marvel event storyline--20+ publishing years after INFINITY GAUNTLET--where Thanos attacks Earth while the Avengers are off defending the cosmos. At the very end of the movie, Thanos is alone on a green planet. This is most likely a flash-forward to the final panel of INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #6, where a secluded Thanos retires to a life of farming.

Media source material cover for THANOS

AVENGERS: ENDGAME (2019) is set for April 2019 release and will most likely depict the intervening plot events of the INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] mini-series, with the heroes marshalling their remaining forces to defeat Thanos and hopefully 'undo' his mass slaughter.

Key Issues

A key issue can be an acceptable place to get started with Thanos, but they are more of a collector's checklist, as they can carry high price tags. The issues listed in this section are predominantly non-variants (i.e. main covers).

Key Issue cover 1 for THANOSKey Issue cover 2 for THANOSKey Issue cover 3 for THANOSKey Issue cover 4 for THANOS
  • FANTASTIC FOUR [1961] #65   (1st appearance of Ronan the Accuser)
  • MARVEL PREMIERE [1972] #1   (1st appearance of Adam Warlock; 1st appearance of the Soul Gem)
  • IRON MAN [1968] #55   (1st appearance of Thanos; 1st appearance of Drax the Destroyer; 1st appearance of the Blood Brothers)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #25   (2nd appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #26   (3rd appearance of Thanos; 1st appearance of Thanos (on cover))
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #27   (4th appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #28   (appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #29   (appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #30   (appearance of Thanos)
  • MARVEL FEATURE [1971] #12   (appearance of Thanos)
  • DAREDEVIL [1964] #105   (Thanos scheme tie-in)
  • DAREDEVIL [1964] #106   (Thanos scheme tie-in)
  • DAREDEVIL [1964] #107   (Thanos scheme tie-in)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #31   (appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #32   (appearance of Thanos)
  • AVENGERS [1963] #125   (appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #33   (appearance of Thanos)
  • STRANGE TALES [1973] #180   (1st appearance of Gamora)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [1968] #41   (1st appearance of the Mind Gem)
  • MARVEL TEAM-UP [1972] #55   (1st appearance of the Power and Time Gems)
  • LOGAN'S RUN [1977] #6   (appearance of Thanos in his 1st solo story)
  • AVENGERS ANNUAL [1967] #7   (THE FINAL THREAT, Part 1 of 2; appearance of Thanos; 1st appearance of all 6 Infinity Gems; deaths of Gamora, Pip, Warlock)
  • MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE ANNUAL [1976] #2   (THE FINAL THREAT, Part 2 of 2; appearance of Thanos; defeat/apparent death of Thanos)
  • SPIDEY SUPER STORIES [1974] #39   (appearance of Thanos)
  • AVENGERS [1963] #257   (1st appearance of Nebula)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #34   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #35   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #36   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #37   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #38   (appearance of Thanos)
  • THANOS QUEST [1990] #1   (appearance of Thanos)
  • THANOS QUEST [1990] #2   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #44   (1st appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #45   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #46   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #47   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #48   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #49   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #50   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #1   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #2   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #3   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #4   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #5   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY GAUNTLET [1991] #6   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #55   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #56   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #57   (appearance of Thanos)
  • SILVER SURFER [1987] #59   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY WAR [1992] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • WHAT IF...? [1989] #49   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY CRUSADE [1993] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • SECRET DEFENDERS [1993] #12   (appearance of Thanos)
  • ULTRAFORCE/AVENGERS PRELUDE [1995] #1   (1st appearance of the Ego Gem (a dubious '7th' Infinity Gem))
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [2000] #17   (appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [2000] #18   (appearance of Thanos)
  • CAPTAIN MARVEL [2000] #19   (appearance of Thanos)
  • INFINITY ABYSS [2002] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • MARVEL UNIVERSE: THE END [2003] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • THANOS [2003] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR [2004] #36   (1st appearance of Thanos (Ultimate Universe))
  • THANOS SOURCEBOOK [2010]    (appearance of Thanos)
  • THANOS IMPERATIVE: IGNITION [2010] #1   (appearance of Thanos)
  • THANOS IMPERATIVE [2010] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • THANOS IMPERATIVE: DEVASTATION [2011] #1   (appearance of Thanos)
  • AVENGERS ASSEMBLE [2012] #6   (appearance of Thanos)
  • NEW AVENGERS [2013] #8   (1st cameo appearance of the Black Order (Thanos' 1st version))
  • INFINITY [2013] #1   (1st full appearance of the Black Order (Thanos' 1st version))
  • NEW AVENGERS [2013] #10   (1st appearance of Thane (son of Thanos))
  • THANOS ANNUAL [2014] #1   (appearance of Thanos)
  • THANOS VS. HULK [2015] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • DEADPOOL VS. THANOS [2015] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • THANOS [2017] #1   (1st issue of this series)
  • THANOS [2017] #13   (1st appearance of Cosmic Ghost Rider (Frank Castle); 1st appearance of King Thanos)