It’s … not what you might expect.
Comics fandom is basically convulsing after the revelation in Thanos #14 that Thanos’ “true name,” chosen by his mother Sui-San before she went mad (and decided to name him Thanos), is Dione. The name is offered up as proof by an older Thanos to convince a younger version of himself of his identity.
Dione is a name rich with ancient history. Simply translated as “goddess,” it has roots in Phoenician and Grecian mythology. Multiple women bear the name “Dione” in Greek myth, but most prominent is a Titaness who is often identified as the mother of the Goddess of Love, Aphrodite.
Dione is also a name given to one of the moons of Saturn, the largest of which, Titan, is Thanos’ birthplace in Marvel Comics canon. Maybe Sui-San was gazing up at Titan’s skies when she decided what she wanted to name her child?
As a mythology and space nerd, I love the choice of Dione. I am all about this Dione business. It’s an admittedly unexpected choice to apply to the purple-skinned Mad Titan we thought we knew, but the name and the Sui-San story, shall we say, humanizes Thanos in a way I never thought to witness. But because Dione is usually a feminine name, some fanboys have predictably lost it over the revelation, crying beautiful tears that I gather in a crystal goblet and plan to sip throughout the day.
However, there’s a nasty undercurrent to the mingled outrage/laughter that’s emerging with fans’ reactions to the name. Like, That big tough guy has a girl’s name! And girls are weak and bad so this is awful and/or the best joke on Thanos.
[…] fans have had a field day responding to the unusual potential “real” name for the Mad Titan, with some even suggesting that this is how the heroes could defeat him in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. Who knows, it might be worth a shot.
Ha ha ha hilarious, you might’ve had a lady’s name, Thanos! LET THAT DESTROY YOU!
The hubbub was such that Thanos writer Donny Cates felt compelled to clarify. Comicbook.com again:
“Yeah. Not really,” Cates tweeted. “It’s the name his mother was GOING to name him before she looked at him and went insane and named him Thanos. Not really his “True name” but rather, what he would have been called had his mother not lost her mind. His name is THANOS. And he wins. Quite a lot.”
OK, cool, Cates, thanks for those deets, but it does, in the comic panel above that you wrote yourself with your own hand, say “the sound of his TRUE NAME” (emphasis yours) so you can see where this “true name” confusion has stemmed from. We get that it wasn’t actually the name given to him at birth. But it might’ve been, and it sure as hell was an important part of Thanos #14‘s story.
At least Cates gets in a worthy sales pitch, which I can’t blame him for— and Thanos #14 is probably a good buy for collectors. Who doesn’t want to own a piece of Dione history?
The only one who should really be laughing here—all the way to the bank—is Marvel, because you cannot buy this kind of publicity for the print run of a comic.
Just remember the lesson the Internet seems to want to teach here, kids: nothing can defeat the Infinity Gauntlet save a threat to etymological masculinity.
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