Top 10 Greatest Thanos Stories Ever Told
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Top 10 Greatest Thanos Stories Ever Told

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Miller
This big purple guy is one of Marvel's toughest big bads. Welcome to, and today, we're counting down our picks for the top 10 greatest Thanos stories ever told.

For this list, we're looking at the Mad Titan's greatest stories through his long comic book history. Obviously, a spoiler warning applies!
This big purple guy is one of Marvel’s toughest big bads. Welcome to, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 greatest Thanos stories ever told.

For this list, we’re looking at the Mad Titan’s greatest stories through his long comic book history. Obviously, a spoiler warning applies!

#10: “The Thanos Quest” (1990)

Similar in some ways to recent MCU entry “Infinity War,” this storyline details Thanos in his quest to gather all six infinity gems. Beginning with his resurrection by Death herself in Silver Surfer’s series, Thanos travels the galaxy, collecting the gems as a means to destroy half of all life in the universe. The story is a perfect precursor to the epic “Infinity Gauntlet” saga to come, serving as refresher or introduction for new and old fans alike to the cosmic Marvel universe. The series comes to a close as Thanos has gathered all the gems for the gauntlet only to be rejected by the object of his affection, Death.

#9: “Marvel: The End” (2003)

In 2003, Marvel began publishing its numerous out-of-continuity “The End” storylines, starting with this memorable series. Also known as “Thanos: The End,” the entire six-issue series revolves around the Mad Titan as he leads Earth’s remaining heroes against an attack by an ancient force of cosmic evil. Thanos defeats the evil, but in the process absorbs what’s known as “the Heart of the Universe” into himself. As Marvel cosmic stories tend to do, it gets pretty crazy and weird, but it ends with Thanos sacrificing himself to preserve the universe, showing off a more benevolent side of the villain.

#8: “Thanos Wins” (2018)

This storyline is part of Thanos’ recently-canceled series written by Jeff Lemire and Donny Cates and drawn by Geoffrey Shaw and Mike Deodato. In the series’ final arc, “Thanos Wins,” the Mad Titan is brought to the future by a version of himself that was victorious in conquering and killing not just half, but nearly the entire universe. The series comes to an end with the older Thanos demanding the younger to kill him so he can finally be together with Death, and as he says, “No one kills Thanos but Thanos.” It was a badass finale to a series that ended far too early.

#7: “The Death of Captain Marvel” (1982)

This story doesn’t focus on Thanos, but he does make a pivotal appearance at the book’s emotional climax. The first Captain Marvel, Mar-Vell, was a popular character whose series saw cancellation when the decision was made by Jim Starlin to kill him off. Marvel’s first-ever graphic novel saw Mar-Vell succumb to cancer instead of a grand battle against a supervillain. In the hero’s final moments, the spirit of Thanos, who was dead at the time, appeared to him to escort him to death. It’s a touching moment, and one of the first glimmers of Thanos’ lighter side.

#6: “Annihilation” (2006)

Marvel’s cosmic universe saw a surge in popularity following this massive storyline that took place concurrently with “Civil War.” In it, an invading alien force called the Annihilation Wave rampages through the galaxy and must be stopped by a group of heroes and villains. Thanos initially sides with the leader of the Wave, Annihilus, until he learns the villain's true plan of universe-wide extinction. Before he’s able to enact his plan to betray Annihilus, Thanos has his heart ripped out by Drax. It was an epic space opera that reintegrated Nova, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thanos as key players in Marvel’s overarching narrative once again, and without it, we likely wouldn’t have the MCU as we know it.

#5: “Thanos vs. Mephisto” (1991)

This single issue of Silver Surfer in the lead-up to “Infinity Gauntlet” details the power of the gems through a conversation between Thanos and the demon Mephisto. After Thanos disposes of his immediate enemies, Mephisto finds him and tries to steal the gauntlet but the Mad Titan defeats him handily. By the end of the issue, Mephisto sees what Thanos does not: that he left himself open to attack by using a normal physical form. It’s an issue that has character development, plot ramifications, and action! What more can you ask for from a successful comic book?

#4: “The Final Threat” (1977)

The storyline that resulted in Thanos’ first death, this foundational arc for Marvel’s cosmic universe introduced the Infinity Gems for the first time. The tale saw Adam Warlock teaming up with Thanos to defeat the evil future version of Warlock, Magus. Thanos eventually turns on Warlock, using the Infinity Gems as a weapon for the first time. He traps Warlock in the soul gem before Warlock breaks out thanks to Spider-Man and turns him to stone. It’s the first of several “deaths” for the Mad Titan and helped set up some of the major story arcs for the character in the years ahead.

#3: “Thanos Rising” (2013)

In 2013, Marvel finally provided Thanos with a true origin story; the five-issue limited series depicts the Mad Titan’s upbringing, from bullied outcast to conqueror of worlds. The issues feature beautiful art from Simone Bianchi, and Jason Aaron’s story is appropriately brutal and manages to humanize Thanos without watering his evil deeds down. It’s a worthy origin story for the multi-dimensional villain and makes Thanos’ history with Death even darker than many would have guessed. The series ends with Thanos destroying his home planet in another attempt to appease Mistress Death. That is if she’s even real.

#2: “Infinity” (2013)

Shortly after having his origin expanded upon, Thanos appeared as the primary antagonist of Marvel’s biggest 2013 event, Infinity. Part of writer Jonathan Hickman’s masterful Avengers run, this epic tale saw Thanos invade Earth while most of its heroes were in space fighting an ancient race of aliens called The Builders. Thanos’ invasion is a success, with him and his Black Order taking control of the planet in order to track down his son, Thane. When the Avengers return to defend Earth, it’s Thane who defeats Thanos, sealing him in a state of living death.

#1: “Infinity Gauntlet” (1991)

This was the story that cemented Thanos’ status as one of Marvel’s greatest villains. After gathering the Infinity Gems to impress Death only to be rejected once again, Thanos makes a final attempt to win her affection by using the gauntlet to vanish half of all living things in the universe. Adam Warlock leads a group of Earth’s mightiest heroes to confront Thanos. Though they are initially all defeated, a series of surprises and betrayals allows Thanos to become vulnerable to attacks from a surviving Nebula, who takes over as the stories' antagonist. The series ends with the Gems being distributed throughout the universe, and Thanos escaping to eventually live out a quiet life on his own.