Long-time comic book readers have no doubt visited a Marvel alternate universe or “possible future” in their time - whether it be in a classic What If? story or a time-bending Summers' family tale. However, few alternate continuities have been so memorable as the one depicted in the Thanos Wins comic series written by Donny Cates, who began his run in 2017.
Thanos hasn’t been the star of too many solo series in his publishing history, and there’s good reason for that. There’s only so long one can follow a story about a cosmic tyrant slaughtering heroes before it becomes boring or Marvel runs out of heroes. However, Cates masterfully evaded this issue by setting his story millions of years into the Marvel future. In doing this, Cates is able to actually tell the tale of what happens when Thanos wins - and the results aren’t pretty for anyone, with the notable exception of Marvel readers.
Having been frozen in time and then stripped of his power by his only living son, Thane, during and after the events of Infinity, Thanos has definitely fallen on hard times in recent Marvel Comics continuity. However, it’s hard to keep a good Mad Titan down.
Thanos soon regains his power by conquering the trials of God Quarry, deals with his son, and sets out to conquer the universe yet again. It’s difficult to show the ultimate potential of Thanos’s evil campaign in the mainstream continuity of Marvel Comics, as Marvel still needs its popular heroes to be alive in order to sell books.
Instead, incoming Thanos writer Donny Cates pulled a neat trick by skipping forward to a future in which the titular character is already victorious, having slain the entirety of the Marvel Universe.
Thanos’s conquering of the known universe is depicted as, at best, an average day at work for the Mad Titan. With his full power restored, Thanos annihilates the Avengers, Defenders, X-Men, Guardians of the Galaxy, and all manner of extraterrestrial hero in a series of gruesome splash pages.
Thanos’s most difficult battle - and the one that receives the most page-time - is a final showdown with Galactus, Devourer of Worlds. This version of Galactus had trained for centuries to take down the universe’s new dictator, but it was all for naught, as Thanos decapitates the cosmic giant with a well-aimed energy blast.
Not much detail is given on precisely how Thanos dispatches the heroes of Earth (minus a few grisly snapshots), but an entire page is given to the death of the last Avenger, Thor Odinson. This version of Thor looks similar to his father, with a white beard and a missing eye, indicating that the God of Thunder had been fighting the good fight against Thanos for a number of centuries. However, the Mad Titan still defeats the Asgardian with relative ease, Mjolnir and all.
There are a number of beings of immeasurable cosmic power in the Marvel Universe, but the Celestials are generally considered to be among the best of the best. The technicolored colossi are shown as some of the last threats Thanos eliminates on his way to slaughtering the entire universe, and he uses a particularly creative method to destroy them.
Thanos apparently kept the Inhuman king Blackbolt alive for just such an occasion. Thanos aims him at the Celestials and runs him through with a sword, causing the sonic-powered monarch to emit a death scream that disintegrates everything in its path.