The Complete Thanos Reading Order Guide

Who the heck is Thanos? Why is everybody talking about him after The Avengers and the lead up to Avengers: Infinity War? What makes me think “everybody” talks about the same things I talk about, despite clear evidence to the contrary? Keep reading to find out and see how you can read every Thanos comic ever:

Thanos vs the Marvel Universe
Thanos stands alone

Marvel did a lot of things right in their approach to the first Avengers movie. But one thing they absolutely nailed, time after time, was the use of after-credits shorts to build excitement for the next episode.

Whether it was Thor’s hammer, Nick Fury talking Avengers Initiative, or Loki & the cosmic cube, Marvel struck an impressive balance between fanboy nerd revelations and mass consumer curiosity.

The Avengers was no different in its after-credits buzz-building. If you saw the film any time in the first month of its release, there’s a strong chance you heard comic guys & gals in the audience inhale with the sort of excited shock generally reserved for marvels of God. Things like walking over the Grand Canyon. Watching a dolphin leap out of Hawaii’s icy blue coast. Discovering another human is willing to get naked with you.

It was an appropriate reaction, then, for as we’ll see, this after-credits revelation is truly a Marvel God: Thanos, the mad Titan (in all his high-res glory below).

Thanos in the MCU
Now with sweet chair!

This is the first time Marvel Studios has used the credits for a major character reveal, and while Thanos is easily one of the coolest characters in the Marvel cosmic canon, he’s not exactly a household name. It’s understandable if you were one of the ones in the audience going “Wha? Huh?!” as I high-fived my wife’s shoulder excitedly (she stopped offering a hand after about the 12th time).

Who is Thanos? In short, he’s one of the single most powerful, diabolical, brilliant and riveting villains in the Marvel canon. He’s like the Dr. Doom of space, but probably even smarter, and with better gloves.

So without further ado, if you’re looking to stride into Avengers: Infinity War with the confidence of this guy, or if you’re looking to enjoy the schemes of the Titan with the Purple Scowl in full, here’s the complete Thanos reading order guide. You can click each link below for full reading information. Enjoy!

Updated 1.14.16!!

Thanos Reading Order (Jim Starlin’s Cosmic Comics!)

  • Thanos’ First Appearance, Captain Marvel, And the Cosmic Cube
    • Collected Issues Reading Order:
      • Iron Man #55
      • Captain Marvel #25 to #32
      • Avengers #125
      • Captain Marvel #33 to #34
  • Thanos Returns – War w/ Adam Warlock
    • Collected Issues Reading Order:
      • Strange Tales #178 to #181
      • Warlock #9 to #15
      • Marvel Team-Up #55
      • Avengers Annual #7
      • Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2
  • Avengers vs. Thanos
    • A lot of readers have asked me “Hey, what about the Avengers vs. Thanos trade? Where does that fit?” It’s a good question, and essentially, Avengers vs. Thanos will give you a combined package of 1) Thanos First Appearance + Captain Marvel & the Cosmic Cube & 2) The Adam Warlock adventures. It also adds a few oddball Daredevil issues that technically involve Thanos. If you’re a purist, you’ll miss out on a few Warlock issues (#12 to #14), but all in all it’s a good trade that gets you the best of early Thanos stories!
  • The Death of Captain Marvel
    • Marvel’s first official Original Graphic Novel is – as you’d expect – a Jim Starlin Captain Marvel story through and through. Aside from simply being a classic and all-time great, though, Starlin does weave some Thanos throughout, and the graphic novel can fit within the larger Thanos narrative.
  • Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos + Thanos Quest
    • Collected Issues Reading Order:
      • Silver Surfer #34 to #38 (series beginning in 1987)
      • Thanos Quest #1 to #2
  • Infinity Gauntlet
    • Note that the above link will provide a full event reading order for the early 90’s Infinity Gauntlet. The comics included are based on the Infinity Gauntlet Omnibus, although I have reordered significantly as the omnibus is a chronological mess. While I enjoy the Silver Surfer and Dr. Strange tie-ins, the core series is accessible on its own, and you can enjoy Infinity Gauntlet here!
  • Infinity Gauntlet: Aftermath
    • Worth noting that this trade is the easiest way to get at Warlock & the Infinity Watch #1 to #6 – issues that are NOT currently included in Marvel Unlimited (boooo!!!)
    • You could also pick up the Infinity Watch Vol. 1 here, which collects  Warlock & the Infinity Watch #1 to #22. Only read Infinity Watch #1 to #7 prior to Infinity War, issues #8 to #10 are tie-ins, and #11 to #17 are included in the Infinity War: Aftermath.
  • Infinity War
    • The Warlock and the Infinity Watch tie-ins are the most highly recommended Infinity War tie-ins, but if you want to play along in Marvel Unlimited (as of 8.28.16):
    • Infinity War Reading Order: 
      • Warlock and the Infinity Watch #7
      • Infinity War #1
      • Fantastic Four #366
      • Infinity War #2
      • Fantastic Four #367
      • Infinity War #3
      • Marvel Comics Presents #108 to #111
      • Fantastic Four #368
      • Warlock and the Infinity Watch #8
      • Daredevil #310
      • Infinity War #4
      • Guardians of the Galaxy #27 to #29
      • Warlock and the Infinity Watch #9
      • Infinity War #5
      • Fantastic Four #369
      • Warlock and the Infinity Watch #10
      • Infinity War #6
      • Fantastic Four #370
  • Infinity War: Aftermath
  • Infinity Crusade
  • Infinity Watch Vol. 2
  • Thanos: Cosmic Powers
    • Includes Secret Defenders #12 to #14, and Cosmic Powers #1 to #6.
  • Thanos vs Thor (Thor #18 – #25)
  • Infinity Abyss
  • Thanos Ends the Marvel Universe (Marvel Universe: The End)
  • 2003 – 2004 Standalone Thanos arc (Thanos: Redemption — Thanos #1 to #12)
    • I’d consider jumping to my modern Marvel cosmic reading order at this point through Thanos Imperative. That will fill in the entirety of the Marvel Cosmic landscape around Thanos. Naturally, the mad Titan is a major player in all the events leading up to The Thanos Imperative.
  • Thanos and Annihilation
    • It’s worth noting here that Annihilation sparks modern Marvel Cosmic, and although these books are inherently indebted to the one and only Jim Starlin, he’s not involved directly in the saga. Nonetheless, the full Thanos narrative would not be complete without Annihilation through Thanos Imperative. You can view the full reading order here.
  • The Thanos Imperative
    • Seriously, this will be a much better read if you’ve been keeping up with Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy since Annihilation!
  • Thanos Rising
    • If you’ve been following me on Comic Book Herald for any amount of time, you know that I can’t stands Thanos Rising. Nonetheless, it’s an in-continuity part of the Thanos narrative. The book deals with the origins of Thanos, meaning in theory, you could place it first on any reading order. Personally I think that’d be a horrible mistake, as there’s no way this should define the character of Thanos.
  • Infinity
    • Pay close attention to the New Avengers #8 tie-in!
  • Thanos: A God Up There
  • Thanos Annual #1
  • Deadpool vs. Thanos
  • The Infinity Revelation
  • Thanos vs. Hulk
  • The Infinity Relativity
  • The Infinity Entity
  • The Infinity Finale
  • Time Runs Out! – New Avengers #24 to #33
    • For the full reading order (which includes crossover with Avengers and Avengers World), you’ll want to check out the Secret Wars reading order.
  • Secret Wars
  • Ultimates: Omniversal Vol. 2
    • Although Ultimates Vol. 1 does not directly relate to Thanos, you’re going to enjoy this second volume a whole lot more if you’ve read the first six issues of Ewing and Rocafort’s Ultimates. It’s also one of my favorite All-New All-Different Marvel series.
  • Thanos Vol. 1: Thanos Returns

 

 

86 Replies to “The Complete Thanos Reading Order Guide”

  1. What about The Warlock Comic Infinity Watch? especially around issues 9 and 10 Thanos looms over that whole series as well as has appearances in it. Thanks for the review/ guide I lost a lot of comics moving.

    1. That’s a really good call, I believe Warlock & The Infinity Watch (8-10) has some pretty good Thanos/Infinity Gauntlet follow up. I’m going to have to make a space for that in the order.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hey man, your site is awesome. I’ve been using it to read everything in civil war and I even used it for age of ultron. I bought the age of ultron omnibus, and thought, “I bet his reading order is better”. And it was! Anyways, thanks, I’ve been filling in gaps of events I have never read, and civil war has been great. Just figured I’d post on the thanos page, cuz he’s my fav comic character. Keep up the good work! Check out my band if u have a chance: pinebox.org

      1. So, I didn’t realize that the second part of Thanos: Redemption was basically an Annihilation prequel. I was wondering if there was anything else like that….and what I mean is: any cosmic stories that came right before Annihilation that sort of act as prequels like that. I mean, I love jim starlin, but I have read almost every cosmic thing he’s done, and I really like the “feel” of giffen’s work. Certainly a different tone.

          1. Thanks man, I was confused about what silver surfer and nova were doing before the prologue. Or if it’s even relevant to the annihilation story. I loved the Drax miniseries, but as far as characters surrounding him: when did genis vell die, and when did phyla and moondragon hook up?

  3. I thought Marvel first used the post credits scenes to introduce a character when Nick Fury was introduced in the post credits scene of Iron Man?

  4. This is crazy! I’ve been missing buying comics for a little more than 15 years. The digital age is going to really help get back into something I use to love. It’s not the same as having something to touch and collect, but now I can go through the important stuff I missed. It seriously is netflix for comics and your site is a HUGE help with story lines. Keep up the great work. Thank you!

  5. This is awesome! Your reading orders combined with Marvel Unlimited are a god-send, many thanks.

    Is there any chance we’ll be seeing something along the lines of this for Galactus/Silver Surfer? I’ve just finished re-reading the DnA cosmic stuff following your reading orders and am now looking to get into the more classic Marvel Cosmic stuff.

  6. Hey, one thing here (this is me just joking around, I’m not serious or anything)

    “He’s like the Dr. Doom of space, but probably even smarter, and with better gloves.”
    Thanos may be just that bit smarter than Dr. Doom, but his gloves are not as cool XD

  7. Is there a reading order for Marvel Unlimited? I’m finding it hard to find the exact comics to follow on this page with using Unlimited…

  8. What about Thanos Rising, and Infinity:Incoming? (I’m just assuming the latter involves him since he’s on the cover)
    Great site, my buddy that owns a comic shop recommends it to all who ask for guides

    1. That’s awesome, love the comic shop plug!

      I sort of loathe Thanos Rising, but chronologically you can read that before any of the titles listed here. I wouldn’t recommend that approach but it deals with Thanos childhood. Personally I’d read through Infinity Gauntlet and then go back to Thanos Rising if you like.

      Infinity: Incoming is basically prologue for Infinity which can be read last on the order here (the event took place in 2013). I enjoy Infinity, and Jonathan Hickman writes a solid Thanos.

      1. I’ve been collecting the collection editions to try and learn more about thanos and was wondering if this is a good timline?

        Thanos storyline:
        Thanos rising
        The rebirth of thanos
        The infinity gauntlet
        The infinity aftermath
        The infinity revelation
        Marvel the end
        Infinity
        Infinity companion
        Inhumanity

        I also have the infinity war as well but it hasn’t arrived.

        1. Hi Matt – I’ve updated the guide above to answer your question.

          Biggest difference is I would move The Infinity Revelation after Infinity (makes a slight reference to the event.)

          Thanks for stopping by!

  9. I was looking at this reading order and the cosmic reading order and noticed that on this list you had Marvel The End taking place after the Infinity Gauntlet, but The End taking place before on the cosmic reading order. Which would be the correct order to follow since I’m looking start reading from the beginning?

    Thank you for your help and your lists are awesome! I only use your lists to go by!!

    1. Infinity Gauntlet definitely takes place before Marvel: The End.

      The cosmic reading order doesn’t start until the early 2000’s (minus Annihilation Classic), so you’ll be good following the Thanos order here for the Infinity Gauntlet arc.

      Enjoy the comics!

  10. Just read Infinity Gauntlet for the first time and want to go back and read more leading up to it, some of the trades that collect the Thanos/Warlock war can be a tad expensive, does Avengers vs. Thanos do a good job of giving me the basic comics needed for that story?

    1. Yeah definitely. The Avengers vs. Thanos trade basically combines the Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock stories, mixing in some Daredevil for good measure. It’s a good trade, you can’t go wrong there.

    1. That trade will largely cover the first two books, involving Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock. It’s a solid trade that blends in some oddball Daredevil stories, you’ll enjoy!

      1. So are oh saying that having the avengers vs thanos would be the same as having captain marvel and Adam warlock so only own one of the other set or would it be just as good to own all three?

  11. Are the issues collected in Infinity Gauntlet: Aftermath on Marvel Unlimited yet? I am having trouble finding them!

      1. Marvel Unlimited has several of the Aftermath issues 🙂 Thanks for the reading order(s) – been using your site for a few years now and its a great resource

  12. Hey! I just picked up Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos and Infinity Gauntlet as my first Marvel comics. I quickly found that I would enjoy the story much more if I had read what came before. Does the Avengers vs. Thanos graphic novel cover the first two entries on this reading order, before Silver Surfer and Gauntlet?

    Thanks!

    1. Yes, that’s a pretty good trade to get both those stories. It skips a couple Warlock issues, but the meat is all there. Recommend checking it out!

  13. Can you update the list to reflect the Nova / GotG / Avengers: Time Runs Out appearances of ol’ Purple Puss? It’d really help my (nearly complete) efforts to collect 100% of Thanos’ trade / anthology appearances. Regards.

  14. Infinity Crusade has 6 issues. The link reference you gave to amazon only has the first half of the event. Was there a reason for this?

  15. Is Infinity Revelation and Infinity Relativity connected to Earth-616? Because i’m hardly found its connected to current Marvel event. Thanks and sorry for bad English.

    1. It is Earth-616 for the most part… but in Revelation there’s an alternate universe. I’m not sure what Earth designation that is supposed to be yet.

      1. I don’t know about this, but in the end of Hickman’s Infinity Thanos is petrified by Thane until Namor freed him and asked him to join his Cabal. And then goes the Time Runs Out and Secret Wars. If Revelation occur after Infinity, then it’s not possible for Thanos to wander in space again

        1. This one’s tricky, but I think the assumption you have to make is that Starlin’s new Infinity trilogy is during the time after Thanos joins the Cabal (during Time Runs Out) and before Secret Wars. I base this on Thanos Annual #1 being described as “During the titan’s “living death” and also a prequel to the new Infinity trilogy.

          That said, this is far from a perfect continuity. Starlin is largely playing with his own toys, and Hickman is using Thanos for separate purposes. Ideally, you’d read both on separate tracks.

  16. Hey,

    Thanks for the tip a couple months back on the Thanos reading order!
    I’ve managed to get my hands on the single issues which comprise infinity gauntlet aftermath, but I was wondering what order they appear in in the TPB? It looks as though Silver Surfer and Warlock Infinity Watch were running concurrently, so is it a case of switching between the 2 with every issue? Or read one set of issues then the other? And where does the random Doctor Strange issue pop up???

    Thanks!

    1. The Doc Strange (#36) is immediate Infinity Gauntlet aftermath. To my understanding, kind of an epilogue, and then you go into Silver Surfer #60. I don’t think you have to alternate Surfer and Warlock issues… I’m not 100% on that though.

  17. thanks brother –
    Like many, I read the infinity guantlet after the MCU got me hyped up for it. I loved it, got infatuated with Thanos and for the past 6 months I have been working my way down the list (Im up to the anhillation arc).

    I somehow skipped Thanos vs Avengers but I see most of that was in the Essential Captain Marvel. I dont know if I need to own both… is it worth me selling Capt. Marvel and getting the TvsA instead? I guess what Im asking is…. Cosmic Cube aside, which do you prefer?

    Thanks again Dave, you single-handly support my new hobby (Marvel owes you a cut of their $$$)

    1. The biggest advantage of Thanos vs. Avengers is you get the core Adam Warlock / Thanos issues. It’s also going to be the most cost effective trade to enjoy those issues, since the Warlock masterworks are nearly $100 on Amazon. So when it comes down to it, I prefer Avengers vs. Thanos, it’s a nice collection.

      Glad you enjoy the guides!

  18. Good work. Can you maybe update it to include Starlin’s new stuff (Infinity Entity and Infinity Finale), and Thanos v Deadpool? The order is good, just wondering where that stuff goes in relation to everything else. Thanks!

      1. Cosmic Power and Deadpool v Thanos are both included in the order above, take another look 🙂

        As for Infinity Entity and Finale, both will be added once those comics / graphic novels are released.

  19. I recently started reading comics again about a year ago and, Thanos being the greatest comic book character ever, I found your guide the best place to start. I wondered why you wouldn’t include Avengers: Celestial Quest on there. Although I found it to be an average read compared some of the other items on this list, I felt it was a good fit right before Infinity Abyss.

  20. Thank you so much Dave. I started reading the Gauntlet last year and ever since that I’ve been trying to keep it with the cosmic series (Starling’s work therefore).

    Would I be losing a lot in case I miss out the Thanos Returns – War w/ Adam Warlock? Could only find for $200 or more.

    Thanks again for putting all stories in the chronological (readable) order.

  21. Hey Dave! Thanks again for the great list! One question: when it comes to Infinity Gauntlet, should I get the omnibus, and it looks like maybe that omnibus also covers the above read: Silver Surfer: Rebirth of Thanos + Thanos Quest? Am I missing something? Or would you recommend the individual trades as the better way to go? Thanks!

    1. The omnibus is awesome and gets you all of the above plus Infinity Gauntlet tie ins from Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange and a few others.

      That said, rebirth + ig as individual collections will be cheaper. If you’re dipping your toes and want to save a bit, I’d go that route.

      1. Hey thanks! Awesome! I will have to see what is in the piggy bank, Ha! Can’t wait to dive into it. Having a blast working through the lists. Wish I had more time to work through them more quickly. And more money 😉

  22. Oh I was noticing this Warlock collection, which basically seems to be the Masterworks collection minus the Marvel Team-up 55.
    http://www.amazon.com/Warlock-Jim-Starlin-Complete-Collection/dp/0785188479/ref=pd_cp_14_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=1CET3QPN8ZH0ECG8N00X

    This collection is much better priced than the Masterworks collection, and Team-up 55 is on MU. I am wondering now, would it be better to go with AvsThanos or the Essential Marvel 2 + New Warlock collection route? Better to have those Daredevil issues or the Extra Marvel and Warlock and Strange Tales issues? Or maybe all 3 at this price? Hmm…oh the things to ponder…

    1. Upon further review and discovering Essential Captain Marvel is in black and white (BOOOOO!), it seems to me for the money if I went with that much more reasonably priced Warlock collection plus read Marvel Team-Up 55 on MU, plus the AvsThanos trade, this would be the most cost-effective combo for completists who like to hold paper books in hand as much as possible. The overlap of issues would be minimal and for the price (compared to the Masterworks book), seems to me to be the best route to go. Does this seem to you to be an accurate assessment?

  23. Thanks a ton for this reading list. For a long time I’ve been buying all things Thanos, but have only added them to my Thanos comic box until I could fill in all the gaps and make sure I had them in the right order before actually reading them. As of now I’m getting ready to start “A God Up There…”

    Two things I’ve noticed so far are 1) All the Tie Ins (especially infinity gauntlet/war/crusade) are pretty much worthless. Some have minor nuggets that are relevant, but most are very loose connections. That being said 2) The “Infinity” 6 part is not this way. I only bought the 6 part and didn’t read any of the Avengers/New Avengers associated issues and I felt that left me lacking in parts of the story. Not to say that the 6 part was unreadable without them, but they are definitely part of the story and not just tenuously connected nuggests.

    Again, thanks for this list. It’s been a great guide on my Thanos reading adventure.

  24. Hey Dave, could you review Infinity Finale? I’m very excited to know your thoughts and opinions on it, especially considering this is supposed to be Jim Starlin’s last run with Thanos.

  25. Hi Dave quick question, I noticed Marvel recently released a new warlock and the infinity watch tbp which has issues 1-22 and is called a companion to infinity war. Would you recommend it or would it be better to stick to the reading order above? Thanks

    1. Hey Tristan – as a lover of all things Starlin and an owner of most collections in which Warlock And The Infinity Watch were originally republished, I would ask you this: are you interested in reading the complete story arcs behind Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity War, and Infinity Crusade? Because, in addition to encompassing some of Starlin’s best work (and coming highly recommended from a Marvel Cosmic aficionado like yours truly), those are the TPBs in which the entirety of the first arc of Infinity Watch are collected.

      Specifically, Infinity Gauntlet Aftermath contains W&tIW 1 – 6, Infinity War contains W&tIW 7 – 10, Infinity War Aftermath contains W&tIW 11 – 17, Infinity Crusade vol 1 contains W&tIW 18 – 19 (and Warlock Chronicles 1 -3), and Infinity Crusade vol 2 contains W&tIW 20 – 22 (and Warlock Chronicles 4 – 5).

      In other words, by getting the above-listed TPBs over the Infinity Watch collection, you’ll be getting all of the issues it collects while simultaneously reading the contemporaneous storylines of which they’re originally a part. Getting only Infinity Watch vol 1, without intimately knowing the above stories, would leave you somewhat lost, and missing a significant chunk of the picture. Since I own the above TPBs, I’m skipping the Infinity Watch vol 1 collection, as – beyond obsessive completism – I see no reason to spend money on material I already own.

      However, when Infinity Watch vol 2 comes out, I definitely recommend getting that, as AFAIK it’ll be the first time the second half of Warlock And The Infinity Watch will have been collected.

      1. Thanks for the reply Thresk, I shall follow your advice. I have read infinity gauntlet and want to continue the saga to the end but wasn’t sure how many of the issues where scattered between books. So thanks again for the detailed answer.

  26. Hi Dave,

    So glad I found this – immensely helpful!

    I have purchased the Essential Captain Marvel Vol 2. and Warlock the Complete Collection as Marvel Masterworks Warlock Vol. 2 is rare and expensive! However, Marvel Team up issue 55 is missing from the former publication as it’s not a Jim Starlin. Is this issue really relevant and worth getting?

    Thanks

  27. How are Thanos: Cosmic Powers and Deadpool vs. Thanos? I assume the latter is totally irrelevant to the overall Thanos storyline, especially with no Starlin involvement. And what about Thanos vs. Hulk? It seems to be part of the new Infinity OGN arc, but I’m not sure.

    1. As far as Thanos vs Hulk is concerned, it merely sets up the events of The Infinity Relativity (explaining how normally spindly and insectoid Annihilus is suddenly colossal and musclebound). Thanos: Cosmic Powers I’ll be re-reading shortly, and will supply my verdict about its quality then, but in chronology it is on my shelf between Infinity Crusade and Infinity Abyss.

      Deadpool vs Thanos I haven’t read yet, but I’ve heard mixed things, and the premise seems inherently flawed to me as there seems no feasible way to craft an interaction between such diametrically opposing personae without it falling flat. Hopefully someone else will be able to weigh in on it.

  28. Hey man, just found a copy of ‘Avengers The Legacy of Thanos. Do you know where that would fall in the Thanos timeline?

  29. Just got infinity Entity. Any idea where that falls in the timeline yet? I’m guessing after infinity finale. Love the help with this though man thank you!

    1. At the beginning of Infinity Entity, after Thanos Annual, it notes that it takes place after Infinity Relativity, and before Infinity Finale.

  30. I have the following books:
    Silver Surfer : Rebirth of Thanos
    Infinity Gauntlet
    Infinity Gauntlet Aftermath
    Infinity War
    Infinity War Aftermath
    Infinity Watch Vol. 1
    Infinity Watch Vol. 2
    Infinity Crusade Vol. 1
    Infinity Crusade Vol. 2

    I just need to know what the reading order is, and if I’m missing any books. My collection looks strong but I wanted to make sure. Thank you in advance

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