Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Mike Del Mundo & Christian Ward
Colors: Mike Del Mundo, Marco D’Alfonso & Christian Ward
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy’s Joe Sabino
Cover artists: Del Mundo (regular)/Kaare Andrews; Russell Dauterman; James Harren; Jack Kirby & Vince Colletta; Esad Ribic; and Christian Ward (variants)
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $4.99 US
I’ve been reading Jason Aaron’s tenure on the adventures of Marvel’s God of Thunder for several years now, and it remains as entertaining as ever. He takes a slightly different tack with the main story here, approaching the Norse hero from a sillier perspective at first, and it’s a lot of fun. The backup story also features his ongoing exploration of King Thor of the far-flung future and his granddaughters. Where this comic book goes awry is in regard to something that’s out of the hands of the creative contributors. The marketing and publishing strategy here is all wrong, focused solely on a short-term gain but not on building the readership. This doesn’t work as a first issue in any way. It’s built completely on Thor stories (featuring the Odinson and Jane Foster incarnations) that have come before in recent years. This isn’t an accessible gateway into Thor’s world at present, and any casual fans of the character, especially those driven to this book by a love of the Marvel movies, will be at a loss. Scrawling the legacy numbering (#707) in a little corner of the cover doesn’t rectify the problem.
The Odinson has reclaimed the mantle of Thor, God of Thunder, but he’s not at the top of his game, give the loss of Mjolnir and an arm, which makes a confrontation of a rejuvenated enemy all the more challenging. Meanwhile, Malekith continues to wage war in the nine realms, and Asgard’s warriors still haven’t the means to join the fray in the wake of the Bifrost’s destruction. And near the end of time, King Thor continues to watch over the people of a resurrected Earth, only to discover his followers face a dire threat not even he can hope to repel.
Mike Del Mundo’s artwork on the main story, “God of Thunder Reborn,” is tremendously entertaining, as its exaggerated tone captures both the humor and mythic qualities of Aaron’s story. Del Mundo’s work here reminds me of a cross between the styles of Dan (The Nocturnals, Thrillkiller) Brereton and Kieron (Captain America, Lowest Comic Denominator) Dwyer. There’s a painted look to his art, but it doesn’t feel stiff at all. The colors are rich and weird, and I love how the artist makes use of SFX lettering, incorporating it into the regular art in inventive ways.
The opening scene of the main story is delightfully goofy, which makes for a starker contrast with the more dire and mature themes Aaron has been exploring through these characters up ‘til now. The humor continues with gusto with Aaron’s spotlighting of Thor’s talking hound, Thori. I’m sure I’d love to read a regular backup feature focusing on this bloodthirsty yet unusually passive mutt. Those scenes are so much fun and off-the-wall, I don’t think Aaron makes the transition all the way back to a more serious tone later in the issue. The success he has with the humor here makes me think that there’s a lot of potential in Thor as a straight-out comedy title, dressed up with super-hero elements and cosmic action. Obviously, the Thor: Ragnarok movie also made a successful case for that, and it might explain the different tack Aaron and Marvel have taken here.
While the writer and publisher might be trying to appeal to the movie’s audience in spirit, they can’t make the same claim when it comes the plotlines offered up here. Aaron’s story is deeply rooted in everything he’s done up to this point, and the script isn’t really crafted in a way so as to bring new readers up to speed. I’ve been following all along, and even I’m confused about what Rosalyn Solomon’s deal is these days. There are a lot of moving parts to this epic the writer is endeavoring to construct and complete, and while I don’t think it’s impossible to sum things up in a way so as to grow the readership, I don’t think they’ve achieved that goal here.
I’m not surprised to see the future Thor and his granddaughters reappear in this issue in “The Grace of Thor.” While the story set in the present treats Thor as a cosmic warrior leading the charge against a common enemy, Aaron has explored King Thor of the future as a literal god, completely with believers, prayers and rites. It feels more… authentic, at least in a comic purportedly about a god. Christian Ward’s art, steeped in a European style, conveys that divine and mythic nature nicely. I also loved the depiction of King Thor’s devotion toward his creations; it’s in keeping with a kinder, gentler vision of a god, which is an interesting juxtaposition with his long history as a warrior.
However, the big reveal at the end of the backup story was a bit off-putting, as I just found the use of a popular Marvel hero as another cosmic player in this distant future to be a difficult pill to swallow. He just doesn’t feel like he belongs in a Thor comic, and certainly not in a story about creation and the end of all things. 6/10