On the heels of his adventure in Iron Man #55, Thanos reveals himself to be the force behind those Skrulls who messed with Mar-Vell’s mind last issue (an issue not written by Starlin). This is Thanos’ second appearance, and he’s already the cosmic version of The Kingpin: The guy who is connected to everything.
He forces Super Skrull to do his bidding, kills minions with a casual thought, and tries to control the universe with the Cosmic Cube.
Thanos has discovered that Rick Jones has unconscious knowledge of the whereabouts of the most powerful weapon in the galaxy-The Cosmic Cube–so he kidnaps and tortures him. Mentor and Eros save Rick Jones from Thanos’ evil clutches (and Eros is white-skinned now, where in Iron Man #55 he was purplish grey like his brother Thanos), and Captain Mar-Vell agrees to help them foil Thanos’ plans.
This eventually brings him back to Earth, but not until he’s had a multi-page battle with Thanos, armed with the Cosmic Cube, that’s reminiscent of A Nightmare on Elm Street…
This does a good job at convincing that the Cube’s power is awesome.
He emerges from the battle with blonde hair, by the way, and the power of Cosmic Awareness (basically, he’s a hugely powerful dude now). There’s lots of art like this-big character pictures with electric-looking effects behind them. It’s easy to see how much of an influence Jim Starlin was on George Perez.
Thanos’ goal in getting the Cube, by the way, was because he’s got a crush on death.
Death is kind of a hottie. He also reveals that Death has never spoken to him.
We also get a reimagined Moondragon as the bald green cosmic lady with mental powers who goes into a mindwar with Thanos. And loses.
I’m leaving out a whole story featuring The Controller and The Avengers because it’s not essential to the development of this story. Lots happening in these issues.
And as a bonus, they offer this cool diagram of Titan in Captain Marvel #27:
Creators: Jim Starlin (Plot and art) and Mike Friedrich (script).
For the complete history of the MU, year by year, go here.