MARVEL: THE END #1-6 (2003)

Marvel: The End was the first “The End” series. When he wrote it, I’m not sure Jim Starlin envisioned it to be non-canonical–and he certainly didn’t think that in a few years there would be a slew of “The End” miniseries, all focusing on the deaths of major characters.

Yet this miniseries is most definitely not canon. I’m still covering it, though, because it’s a good read and a good character study of one of Marvel’s best villains: Thanos.

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It starts with a soliloquy by the Mad Titan himself.

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After delivering it, Thanos destroys the X-Men–immediately letting you know you’re in for something huge.

Then Thanos assembles all the world’s leaders and subjugates them to the Godlike enemy of the day (who, in the end, really isn’t all that important to the story).IMG_8401

Check out Dr. Doom and Mole Man alongside all those presidents and dictators and whatnot

Then, Jim Starlin kills all the Avengers (and more)…

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So, by the end of issue #1, almost nobody is left alive, except…

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Dr. Doom, who might be the only villain more egotistical than Thanos.

He thinks he can outwit the Godlike force that already wiped out nearly all of Earth’s superheroes, including The Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four.

Surfer is alive, too, but is smart enough to know Thanos cannot be negotiated with.

MARVEL UNIVERSE: THE END #3

Exactly.  Nothing subtle about Thanos, just brutal honesty.

Both Doom and Surfer fail to get control over Thanos. Then…

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Everyone still alive in the Marvel Universe comes after Thanos.

Spoiler: He kills ’em all.

In the final issue we at last understand the irony of the title. In the first issue, Jim Starlin killed off most of the Marvel Universe and subsequent issues saw many more heroes die. Of course, we all knew it wasn’t permanent. Marvel wasn’t going to kill off its entire corporate intellectual property just for a good story. But unlike many “deaths” (e.g., The Death of Wolverine from last year), Starlin made sure this death mattered.

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Thanos got everything he ever wanted—including a kiss from his beloved.

And, in so doing, he realized that Death was not what he wanted in the end. He wanted to bring life back to the universe. And he does.
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He just needed a purpose.