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Joe Keatinge On ‘Thanos: Son of Titan’ [SDCC]

Over the past year, Joe Keatinge has found success as the writer of Glory and Hell Yeah for Image, but last week, Marvel announced that they’d tapped him to tell the origin of one of their toughest villains in Thanos: Son of Titan. With the character’s sudden prominence in Hollywood (spoilerzzz), it’s a pretty big step for Keatinge, which is why I spoke to him about his plans for the book, his long-time love of Thanos, and who he’d pick to be the Mad Titan’s tag-team partner in a wrestling match.

ComicsAlliance: So you have Thanos coming out from Marvel.

Joe Keatinge: Yeah I do! I’m doing a mini-series called Thanos: Son of Titan. It’s five issues of Thanos’s origin, sort of a Year One type of thing, but not calling it Year One. It starts off on Titan, and goes through to the point where he debuts in Iron Man #55, with everything way before that at the birth of the Marvel Universe.

CA: Are you dealing with stuff with Starfox and Mentor?

JK: Starfox and Mentor are in the first issue, I can confirm that. What can I even say? It starts off with a big family conflict, and that’s a big part of it. The differences between Thanos and Mentor’s Utopian views for Titan come into conflict, and everything goes down from there.

CA: Is that your first Marvel book?

JK: My first Marvel book, yeah.

CA: Thanos is obviously a big deal, especially with the Avengers movie. Is there a lot of pressure from that, and this being your first Marvel book, with them wanting to get this out there for people who are stoked about the Avengers?

JK: Can I rip the Fourth Wall and address you?

CA: Sure.

JK: Do you remember being at Ultimate Comics on Free Comic Book Day and me buying that full run of Warlock?

CA: Yes.

JK: I had no idea that I was doing Thanos then. I had developed this obsession with ’70s Marvel stuff, because I’d read all the ’60s stuff and I’d read all the ’80s stuff because that’s when I started reading comics, but ’70s Marvel aside from Kirby and Gerber, I hadn’t really touched. I thought I needed to get this, so when I was at Ultimate Comics, they had the best back issue bin, and I thought “I’m going to buy all this Warlock stuff.” Then, when I saw Avengers, I thought that was the best possible headspace I could possibly be in, just as a fan.

I was psyched, so when they brought this along, I was like “Holy crap, yeah.” I was a fan from Infinity Gauntlet and Thanos Quest and all the Silver Surfer Ron Lim stuff, and I’m a huge Jim Starlin fan in general. It’s not really until this show that I’ve realized there’s pressure from the movie, I’m just going in as a huge fan of this stuff. Now, I’ve read all the Captain Marvel stuff and the Warlock run and everything, and I’m realizing there’s this huge movie attached and everything. You know, I’m just having a good time and we’ll see how it turns out.

CA: How did it come about? Was it just Glory and Hell Yeah that led into it?

JK: Yeah, Glory specifically. I was on Twitter and Stephen Wacker, who’s a really cool guy, was like “Hey, I like Glory a lot.” So I wrote him an email and said “Hey man, that’s really nice of you to say that, I’d love to work with you.” He said “I’d love to work with you too, we should talk.” So we ended up talking and he was like “We’re doing this Thanos thing, is that something you’d be interested in doing?” I said “Ooh, yeah, that’d be awesome. That’d be totally cool.” I send in a pitch, they liked it, and I’m on Thanos.

CA: So you were already a fan of Thanos from Infinity Gauntlet.

JK: Oh, dude, yeah. When I was nine or whatever, whenever that came out, I remember specifically that opening scene, because it’s him and Mephisto hanging out and the giant word “GOD” made out of stone.

Thanos was kind of missing, he’d appeared briefly in Silver Surfer, but he was gone for a long time, and having not read the original stuff, he came out of nowhere for me. All I knew was that Mephisto was begging to be his slave and telling him “you can be a god,” and I’m like “who is this guy?!” Then he’s kicking everyone in the Marvel Universe’s ass, and you eventually realize that he’s not the moustache-twirling villain, he’s this guy who’s doing it out of love for Death. I had to know everything about this guy. It goes back a long time, over 20 years of me loving this character.

CA: There have been a couple of different takes on Thanos. Obviously you’ve got the bad guy of the Infinity Gauntlet, then those years when he’s a farmer…

JK: I like that, yeah. I suppose he’s a villain, but he’s actually pretty noble, and there’s that whole run where he’s atoning for his sins back in the 2000s. He’s not a cut and dried villain. He’s destroyed all reality in Marvel: The End or whatever, but he’s doing it out of love and he’s creating order. He’s not doing it just for power, he’s not a guy who’s just out to conquer the Earth. He’s more complex.

CA: You talked about it taking place on Titan, so by its very nature, it’s a cosmic story.

JK: It’s a Marvel Universe story. I can’t say what just yet, but it goes everywhere. It goes a lot of different places than just Titan.

CA: Do we see any guest stars that you can tell us about?

JK: I can’t tell you. That’s all I can say.

CA: Thanks, Joe. Hey, real quick: Thanos vs. John Cena, who you got?

JK: Dude. Thanos. Come on. You know who I want to see, though? Thanos vs. Brock Lesnar. My ultimate Marvel Two-in-One is the Thing and CM Punk vs. Brock Lesnar and Thanos.

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