Until 2005, Thanos had always been a dark, brooding, powerful menace. Then came Dan Slott, who is one of the best writers working today. Since Thanos wasn’t really being used in Marvel’s cosmic “event” of the time (Keith Giffen’s Annihilation Event), Slott used him twice in the books he was writing at the time. Slott’s mid-2000s work was a lot about recharacterizing and reinventing–Marvel was just coming back from bankruptcy and ruination of most of its business line, so the time was ripe for fresh voices.
So first, Squirrel Girl beat Thanos. Yeah, it trivializes the Mad Titan, and obviously I love the dude, but it was a pretty neat story. And then…
Yes! We can explain all the silly and stupid Thanos appearances–including the shockingly weird one against Ka-Zar–as clones from the godawful Infinity Abyss event. It’s so great at fitting canon in with consistency that it’s like something Grant Morrison would do. Only it’s not confusing or dense–it’s silly and fun.
Dan Slott’s run on She-Hulk is nothing short of brilliant. In a lot of ways, it serves as the prototype for Charles Soule’s current take on the character, and also influences many of the female-centered Marvel books out today. It was cute, quirky, and entirely character-based. It wasn’t a woman being portrayed in traditionally “man” terms, it was a woman being a woman with powers that made her tougher than most men.
Thanos really didn’t have a lot to do here, but since I’m trying to be definitive, I’m including it.