Is there a villain that strikes fear into the hearts of Marvel heroes more than Thanos? Named by his creator Jim Starlin after Thanatos, the Greek god of death, the purple cosmic tyrant has been trying to get his gauntlet on total universal domination for 45 years. But how much do we really know about him? Not a whole lot, it turns out, as a new comic has revealed that Thanos isn’t his birth name.
In Thanos #14 by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Antonio Fabela and Clayton Cowles, we learn a lot about the Mad Titan’s past, present and future as he comes face to face with his elderly self. Naturally, the villain doesn’t trust that this other guy is really him. In order to convince himself, Old Man Thanos says something that only he would know: the original name that his mother, Sui-San, gave him. Which is revealed as… Dione (pronounced “Dee-Own”).
Those familiar with Thanos’ backstory will know that he’s a mutant offspring of the usually humanoid race known as the Eternals. When his mother looked into her newborn purple baby’s eyes, she saw the indescribable horror that her son would bring upon the universe – and it drove her insane. Now we know that, in another life, Thanos could have lived a less villainous existence as an Eternal known as Dione.
The issue also reveals the intriguing reason why Old Man Thanos has sought out his younger self’s help: he’s lost Lady Death, the only being he’s ever cared for. This is an interesting twist, as previous installments in this run have seen Thanos reject Lady Death after she manipulated his life and that of his son, Thane, in order to lure him back.
So, why is the elder Thanos now desperate for her return? Issue #15 will likely reveal the answers, but in the meantime, feel free to speculate down below.