Thanos: Death Sentence – Narrated by Richard Rohan & Performed by Christopher Walker, Marni Penning, Erika Rose, Dani Stoller, Andy Clemence, Richard Cutting, Mort Shelby, Steven Carpenter, Yasmin Tuazon, Nora Achrati, Helen Pafumi, Rose Elizabeth Supan, Bradley Smith, Peter Holdway, James J. Johnson, Scott McCormick, Joe Mallon, Eric Messner, Thomas Keegan, Chris Stinson, Amanda Forstrom, Jeff Allin, Julie-Ann Elliott, Nanette Savard, Gregory Linington, Eric Singdahlsen, Robbie Gay, Jefferson A. Russell, Dawn Ursula, Michael Glenn, Scott Graham, Terence Aselford, Evan Casey, Jonathon Church, Chris Genebach, Michael John Casey, Matthew Schleigh, Elizabeth Jernigan, Mary C. Davis, Christopher Graybill and Colleen Delany – Written by Stuart Moore & Adapted & Directed by Scott McCormick – 7xCD / Download (Graphic Audio)
Arguably* the greatest villain in Marvel mythology, Thanos the Mad Titan and sometime beloved of Lady Death, in Death Sentence is taken beyond the extremes of “suffering”, and having failed to destroy all of creation in tribute to his love, is given the chance to redress the balance and begin all over again in her service. Opening with one of the most grandiose and operatic space battles it’s been my pleasure to encounter, Death Sentence immediately kicks into high gear as Thanos, wearing the Infinity Gauntlet and thus in control of ultimate Universal power and prepared for his moment of final triumph, is defeated by a most unexpected adversary. Lost, broken and spiralling through space, the Mad Titan is rescued by Death and given a final opportunity to prove his worth to her. But in order to do so he must forsake his own identity, relinquish all that that he is and win her dark heart by starting from the most humble of beginnings and from there, wreak havoc, chaos and destruction in tribute to her. It is a challenge that Thanos gladly, and willingly, accepts.
In a Galaxy spanning story that takes him from one corner of known space to the other, Thanos (in a variety of different guises) rises from the position of lowly slave to challenging for control of the Kree Empire, only to finally discover who he truly is in the last place, and with the last people in the cosmos he’d ever expect. From planetary grand larceny to inciting civil war and being forced to sacrifice all that he holds dear in order to stand of company of old friends and watch all that he pursued collapse as he’s hunted for his crimes, and those of others, Thanos becomes the plaything of his obsession, who seemingly grants him his heart’s desire, before allowing fate to snatch it away at the last second. Like Job before him, Thanos is taunted and teased by the deity he worships and is forced to rely on his knowledge and wits rather than his omnipotent power in order to achieve his objectives. The path to his goal is littered with misfortune, upheaval, resignation and pain and after traversing it, the prize he’s granted isn’t the one he sought, but the one he conclusively deserves.
Stuart Moore’s story of change in the face of adversity and the ability of its central character, and unlikely “hero”, to accept, and incorporate it into his life achieves the nearly impossible. It makes its audience feel for the plight of Thanos, empathising with him as his perception of his past and the hold his mistress has on him reshapes and twists itself beyond all recognition. And despite the touching finale, reminds the reader, that just like in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea in which the Old Man has to be the Old Man and the fish has to be the fish, that Thanos has to be Thanos and Death has to be Death. Change, while a necessary part of life, very rarely has an impact on oblivion. Wonderfully adapted by Scott McCormick, Death Sentence thrives thanks to its gripping, enticing plot, Richard Rohan’s thoughtful , considered narration, Christopher Walker’s scene stealing turn as Thanos and a cast that pushes the performance envelope far above, and beyond, the call of duty. Embrace the darkness… Tim Cundle
*It’s all a matter of opinion. And opinions, much like everything else in life, are subjective and all too often, incredibly personal.