Saturday, September 1, 2018



(cautiously edited by John "THE MEGO STRETCH HULK" Cimino)

Jim Starlin was clearly a formidable talent, filled with energy and ambition as well, from the beginning, showing the influence of guys like Jack Kirby and Gil Kane yet with his own style forged from that and other elements.  So when he wanted to bring in some new characters and brought drawings to me as editor, I was interested.  I remember he showed me 2 or 3 of them at once... not sure what I thought of the others, or whether one of them might have been Drax the Destroyer or whatever... but one of them a guy called "Thanos."  I loved the name, since I knew it meant "death," and as an English major and later English teacher I had read the poem "Thanatopsis."  "Thanos" was a better name.

The character, as I recall, was leaner, less bulky than he became... he was kind of vampiric, actually. But I saw him--even if Jim didn't--as being the kind of character Darkseid was at DC... who in turn, of course, had owed something to Kirby's earlier characters like Dr. Doom and (an evil) Odin, etc.  So I told Jim I'd really like him to beef up Thanos and use him... I saw him as a leader of villains, but otherwise I was content to let Jim chart his own course.  Jim had conceived the character, so I'd let him decide how to utilize him within that slight verbal framework I'd given him.  I was never disappointed.

Iron Man #55 (1973): First appearance of Thanos and Drax the Destroyer

Not too long afterward, probably in 1973 or '74, certainly before I resigned late the latter year as editor-in-chief, Jim surprised me in my office one day by bringing in a bust he had sculpted of Thanos' head and neck.  It was 6 to maybe 8 inches tall... and heavy.  I'm not sure to this day what it's made of, but it feels like a rock.  I was startled and touched.  I wanted to take it back to my apartment as soon as possible, both so nothing could happen to it and so that it couldn't be stolen, as some of the bound Golden Age Timelys had been, etc.  So that afternoon, with the bust in hand, and quite probably with some packaged original artwork or some such "homework" as well, I hailed a cab right outside Marvel's Madison Avenue offices.  Alas, as I was trying to maneuver everything inside the cab (it may have been raining), I hit the cab's open back door with one of the two "mask-ears" on the Thanos statue...and it broke off. I was mortified... but there was no hope of finding the missing piece in the busy NYC street, and I was too embarrassed to ask Jim to re-do anything. So I took the Thanos bust home and have displayed it with other items ever since, in NYC and Los Angeles and now in my office in our home near St. Matthews, SC, where it shares space on a cabin which contains various memorabilia including Patty's Marvel chess set (see more about that in ALTER EGO #154), various items related to the original Captain Marvel and the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair, etc.  I've turned down a few offers for it, as you can imagine.  And now it's the image of the main villain in one of the most successful films of all time!

"He who speaks to Thanos... or is it Roy Thomas?"

On August 18, 2018, I brought it to TERRIFICON in Uncasville, Connecticut, where I had a panel with Jim. This was the first time, that I know of, the Thanos statue was ever seen in a public forum.  Earlier in the day, I was able to surprise and show it to him in the lobby of the hotel. Jim told me that he made a few busts and he still has the only two he casted in bronze.  Sadly, the other "mask-ear" broke off before I could make it to the panel...Just my luck.  But thankfully my pal John Cimino found the piece and gave it to my wife Dann along with the bust after the panel. She will glue it back together and it will sit in my office proudly once again.  Hey, at least no one can mistake the others for mine. 

Thanks again, Jim!  You're one of the greats!

Showing Jim Starlin the Thanos bust he gave me almost 45 years earlier.  And is that Joltin' Joe Sinnott photobombing us??

Looking to destroy the cosmos with my buddy John Cimino and Thanos!  Luckily, John was there to retrieve the other broken "mask-ear" before it got lost.

At a TERRIFICON panel about the Marvel Cosmic Universe in 2018 with Jim Starlin, hosted by John Siuntres with the Thanos bust in the middle of the chaos.




Roy William Thomas, Jr.
Roy Thomas is a legendary comic-book writer and editor, who was Stan Lee's first successor as editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. He is known for co-creating some of comics' greatest characters including Wolverine, Carol Danvers, Morbius, Iron Fist and Ghost Rider. He introduced the pulp magazine heroes Conan and Red Sonja and sci-fi fantasy Star Wars to Marvel Comics. He's also known for his championing of Golden Age comic-book heroes -- particularly the 1940s superhero team the Justice Society of America. Roy had lengthy writing stints on Marvel's X-Men and Avengers, and DC Comics' All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc., among many other titles, books and a couple of movies. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2011 and currently edits the comics-history magazine Alter Ego and works with Stan Lee on the Spider-man newspaper strip.

John Cimino
John Cimino is a Silver and Bronze Age comic, cartoon and memorabilia expert that runs a business called "Saturday Morning Collectibles." He buys, sells, appraises and gives seminars on everything pop culture, so if you got something special, let him know about it. He contributes articles to ALTER EGO, RETRO FAN, BACK ISSUE and THE JACK KIRBY COLLECTOR from TwoMorrows Publishing and has appeared on the AMC reality show Comic Book Men. John also hangs with Roy Thomas, bringing him to a Comic Con near you. Contact him at or follow him on Instagram at megostretchhulk.