8. Cosmic Ghost Rider
Oh boy. This one you have to read to believe and that’s saying something in the realm of superhero comic books. Spinning out of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s standalone Thanos series (more on that later), Cosmic Ghost Rider is the one-time henchman of the Mad Titan who bargains with Odin to send him back in time to slaughter the bumpy-chinned infant in his crib. Instead of snuffing out the toddler, the Cosmic Ghost Rider hatches the brilliant plan to raise Thanos as his own son, and all manner of multiverse hell erupts as a result. BTW, the Cosmic Ghost Rider himself is a demented future version of Frank Castle, The Punisher. This book is certainly comedic in tone, but by page-end, you may find a few more reasons to sympathize with evil creatures.
7. The Thanos Quest
In this quick, one-two punch from Jim Starlin and Ron Lim, seeds are planted that will eventually grow into The Infinity Gauntlet event. Thanos receives his marching orders from the physical embodiment of Death. His life obsession has been to gain her favor, and she tells Thanos that he will have it if he eradicates half of the sentient population from the universe. To do this, he must collect the infinity gems, and much of the book revolves around Thanos hopping from one realm to another as he gathers them up. The reason I rank this story higher than the epic that falls in its wake is that it is one of the most in-depth examinations of Thanos’ dark thought process. If you really want to root around in this barbarian’s head, The Thanos Quest is where to start.
6. Silver Surfer #45
This single Silver Surfer issue is easily the best tie-in comic to the whole Infinity Gauntlet storyline. Mephisto, Marvel’s spin on the Faustian demon Mephistopheles, attempts to placate Thanos’ ego so that he may trick the Gauntlet from the Titan’s grasp. The comic is a scrumptious feast of villainy with two of the most fiendish Marvel characters looking to out-evil the other through sheer language. Mephisto’s words are so sharp that Markus and McFeely snatch portions of it for Ebony Maw to recite in Avengers: Infinity War.
5. Thanos: The Infinity Revelation
In 2014, Jim Starlin returned to two of his favorite characters after many years of many other writers mucking about in their personalities. Once again Thanos stares into the eyes of Death only to discover a mystery involving a great big x on a great big cosmic map. Thanos cannot help himself. He has no idea what he is chasing, but he must pursue it because it is there. This original graphic novel is the first of several new Thanos adventures from Starlin and it does not disappoint in recapturing the esoteric and cryptic thought process of the crazed seeker. These new books take Thanos across the universe and back as well as dip into various dimensions and timelines. The Infinity Revelation is not the comic one gives to a new reader, but for those already prepared for the floweriest of purple cosmic prose, Starlin’s latest venture rewards greatly.