Over the centuries, the Mad Titan Thanos has proven himself to be one of the most efficient murderers in the universe. Some stories show Thanos using interplanetary germ warfare to virtually eradicate an entire alien species, while others have shown him capable of slaughtering entire superhero teams as an infant. And of course, Thanos’ famous quest to retrieve the six Infinity Stones gave him the ability to wipe out half of all life in the universe with a snap of his fingers.
What’s even more disturbing, however, is the revelation that Thanos actually invented the very concept of murder – at least on his own home world of Titan. Thanks to his early bloodlust and several disturbing killings, Thanos made sure his own people, the Eternals, learned to fear something they couldn’t even imagine previously.
The revelation happened in Thanos Rising, a miniseries by Jason Aaron and Simone Bianchi that examined Thanos’ early years. Although the story showed that Thanos was once a very kind and peaceful person in his youth, he quickly learned to take a very different path, thanks to the visions of Death he regularly had. When Death encouraged him to take revenge on a colony of lizards who had eaten several of his friends, Thanos obediently slaughtered the entire population.
From there, it was only a matter of time before Thanos graduated to killing and dissecting higher life forms – including his fellow citizens – hoping that by examining their bodies he might find out why he was so different from other people. Initially deluding himself by claiming that what he was doing was simply a scientific experiment, Thanos regularly abducted innocent people and cut them open in secret. As the Eternals of Titan had known nothing but peace for eons, none of them could even conceptualize such a thing as murder – until Thanos invented the idea.
Although Thanos was careful to bury his bodies in secret, news of the disappearing Eternals spread and eventually word reached Chronos, Thanos’ grandfather. As Chronos was one of the rare beings who had fought in wars and knew about killing, he tried to warn Thanos’ father Mentor to investigate the disappearances as abductions and murders, but Mentor refused to accept the reality of the situation. According to Mentor, “We do not murder here on Titan. These people do not even know what murder is.”
Their argument may have actually sparked a bit of genuine remorse in Thanos, who swore never to kill again. Like an addict though, Thanos regularly went back on his vow and even admitted he enjoyed killing. Eventually, he would return to kill millions of people on Titan, perfecting a practice he once – for all intents and purposes – invented.