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With Avengers: Infinity War hitting theaters soon, it's a good time bone up on the blockbuster's big bad: Thanos. The giant purple meanie hasn't had much screen time in the Marvel movies so far, but that's only made him more enigmatic. What's this guy's deal, anyway? The best way to answer that would be to go straight to the comics, which have been chronicling the Mad Titan's exploits for decades. We've listed some of the must-reads below.
If you're looking for a Thanos origin story that starts from the very beginning, Thanos Rising is your best bet. The self-contained miniseries follows the titular Titan on his journey from childhood outcast to fully-grown world-destroyer. Throughout his bloodsoaked journey, you'll learn a bit more about Thanos' obsession with death (both the concept and the literal person named Death). You might even feel a little sorry for Thanos after his mother tries to kill him in the minutes following his birth.
This is it. The Infinity Gauntlet is the major event book Thanos is known for. It's a tad different than the upcoming Infinity War, as it centers on Thanos' quest to woo Mistress Death. In addition to the Avengers, there are a lot more players you might not be familiar with, including Adam Warlock, Eros (aka Star Fox) and Eternity. Reading this will give you a better handle on the neat nods in Infinity War, like how Gamora mentions Thanos could "wipe out half of existence just by snapping his fingers." In the comic, Thanos does just that in the opening chapter.
The Infinity Gauntlet on its own can be a bit overwhelming, so if you need a bit more context, The Rebirth of Thanos might be what you're looking for. Taking place just before The Infinity Gauntlet, this Silver Surfer-focused story shows the lead-up to the epic showdown, giving you a taste of just how powerful Thanos is even without a glove loaded with jewelry.
If you like a little Guardians of the Galaxy with your Cosmic Marvel universe, Annihilation is where you should start. The crossover event series is basically responsible for the space side of Marvel that you know today in Guardians and arguably maybe also Thor: Ragnarok. It's also one of few Thanos comics where he isn't actually the main bad guy, and instead gets taken out by Drax midway through the run. (Don't worry, he gets better later)
You might have noticed some hubbub around the Black Order, Thanos' mysterious henchmen in Infinity War. The team of sinister alien supervillains could be compared to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, each with their own powerful methods of destruction. They first appeared in the run up to Infinity (just "Infinity," the series by Jonathan Hickman and Jim Cheung -- I know, comics can be confusing), so that's the best place to get to know this sordid lot. Oh, and Thanos is around too.
Thanos' epic saga that began in Annihilation ends in The Thanos Imperative. A rift in space known as the Fault has given way to an extradimensional invasion from the so-called "Cancerverse," and only the newly un-murdered Thanos can stop them. It's a tall order, especially since the invaders from the Cancerverse come from a place where no one dies. This plane of existence even has its own brand of evil Avengers called "The Revengers." Only in comic books.
For the most recent run of Thanos comics, you'll want to pick up the series simply called "Thanos." Starting with "Thanos Returns," the Mad Titan retakes his throne only to discover he is dying of an unknown cause. While Thanos searches for answers, his nearly limitless amount of enemies come in droves to fight the galaxy's biggest bully at his weakest.
This one's just for fun, but sometimes you need a little bit of levity to break up the galaxy-ending gravitas. Deadpool could not be more different than Thanos, but they both share one thing: A love of Mistress Death. This brings the unstoppable force and an immovable object together for a surprising adventure that both will surely regret embarking on.