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Marvel Holiday Special 1993
"Yule Memory"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND

Jim Starlin: Writer
Ron Lim: Art
Terry Austin: Inks
Brad Joyce: Letters
Tom Vincent: Colors

Thanos of Titan has begun reopening and retrofitting many of his former hideaways. Current events have shown him that putting aside his quest for galactic conquest, the galaxy remains a deadly place for him. The use of old residences may prove to be advantageous at a crucial moment. The service robots ask their master what they should do with the items cleaned out of the rear quarters... He wishes the items disposed of, but something in the box catches his eye... a doll.

It had belonged to a girl named Gamora, who was raised by Thanos to become his operative in past dealings. He had not desire just a homicidal assassin in his command, but a fighting and killing machine... which would be able to reason with a sane and reasonable mind. He gave Gamora the training needed for future tasks... while giving her a normal childhood as he could. He even assigned her a birthday and... celebrated some holidays with her in order to maintain the illusion of familial life. Among the holidays celebrated was Christmas. At the time, Gamora was a young girl of five, and was delighted by the gift of a baby doll!

She thanked him for the doll, and as Thanos went to work in the lab, Gamora asked if they could go to the lagoon... because she loved watching the dolphins. The moment passes, and the titan heading for the lab... with the little girl holding the girl close to her, as he left.

In those days, Thanos had his share of foes. He was not as security conscious then as he is now. The would-be assassin was Xtoral Laxtan. The titan had had some business with his kinsmen. They had tried to cheat him, and were dealt with swiftly. Thanos had not taken Laxtan's blood oath ritual to avenge his family seriously. This would prove to be a near-fatal miscalculation.

As he worked in his lab, Thanos was not aware of the intruder behind him... the weapon being aimed... the finger trembling slightly on the trigger... Nor was Xtoral Laxtan prepared for the thrown doll which caused him to discharge his weapon prematurely, and miss his intended target! All this would not matter for long, as Xtoral Laxton would breathe his last moments beneath the titan's destructive energy-blast!

All that remained of Xtoral Laxton would be scorched dust on the lab floor. He would find the burnt doll beside the remains, and see the little girl standing there in the doorway. He begins to give voice to what has just happened, but she already knows. The doll was damaged in the blast and Thanos intends to replace it, but Gamora doesn't see any reason to bother. She'll make dolly all better. Dolly will be okay.

He calls her name. She turns and he tells her that once he has cleaned up the lab, they will go to the lagoon. She smiles, and hugs the doll close to her again. In the present, the titan remembers how the child saved his life, then thanked him for taking her out. He should have known that Gamora would not turn out to be a good assassin. That she would turn against him one day. Now she is with Adam Warlock and the Infinity Watch. So much change in so few years. The doll is tossed into the box, and he orders the robot to take it to the incinerator with the rest of the debris.

It is an old, discarded toy, whose sole worth are the memories it may invite. Memories are for those who would still care, for those who could still feel. There is much which has scarred over any possible good emotions the proud titan once might have had. Such things has long since been discarded. Such things are for the weak. And Thanos is not weak. Not Thanos...

Among the many books which writer/artist Jim Starlin has worked on are Captain Mar-Vell, Warlock, The Silver Surfer, The Infinity Gauntlet, Marvel: The End, and Thanos!

Among the books which artist Ron Lim has worked on: Captain America, The Silver Surfer, The Infinity Gauntlet, and coming soon... Thanos!

Inker Terry Austin is best known for his work on Uncanny X-Men.

Thanos has battled such diverse characters as: The Avengers, The Silver Surfer, Captain Mar-Vell, and Adam Warlock.

Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Mar-Vell were instrumental in defeating the mad titan when he sought the Cosmic Cube in the '70s.

Gamora, The Deadliest Woman In The Whole Galaxy, first appeared in the pages of Strange Tales #180 (June, 1975).

The 1977 Annuals of The Avengers and Marvel Two-In-One saw the strange deaths of both Adam Warlock and Thanos.

In 1982, it would be Thanos who would come for the Kree warrior in the first Marvel Graphic Novel, "The Death of Captain Mar-Vell."

The Infinity Gauntlet miniseries by Jim Starlin, George Perez, and Ron Lim saw the return of Adam Warlock, Gamora, and Pip The Troll, who would have a re-match with Thanos.

In the second run of The Silver Surfer, Jim Starlin brought back Thanos, as well as Mentor and Eros, who were father and brother to the mad titan. The Destroyer, an artificial being created to defeat Thanos was also brought back to battle him, too.

Xtoral Laxtan is a green, sharp-toothed alien with reptilian features, tentacles for ears, and wears a brown space suit. His weapon of choice is a ray-blaster. Unfortunately for him, Thanos is rather quick on the draw, himself.

The baby doll is coveted by Gamora and was a gift from Thanos. By the end of the story, we see the doll scorched by the blast, and on some level, we know that the little girl's life will someday mirror the doll's fate at the hands of Thanos.

Ironically, it was the doll which saved the titan from his would-be assassin, and in that, Gamora would also reflect its nature... seemingly fragile, but strong, no matter what harm befalls it.

Thanos is a complex character. Even when we know that he will be tempted by power, the character is well done when he shocks the reader by doing something completely unexpected.

This Review Is Dedicated To Tom Orzechowski

Steve Chung
"Yule Review"