Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of his favourite one, with potential minor spoilers.
This week I knew what my review would be before I even went to the comic book shop. What with all the hype, perceived controversy and it being a new number one I picked up Thor #1 despite not really reading much Marvel of late, or having followed the preceding run of Thor: God of Thunder and the Original Sin event that led to this new series. Thor was written by Jason Aaron, with art by Russell Dauterman, colours from Matthew Wilson and letters by Joe Sabino, and was published by Marvel comics. Full disclosure, this is the first issue of Thor I have ever bought. I don’t read anywhere near as much Marvel as I would like, occasionally dabbling in things like Avengers, Deadpool, Punisher and Wolverine, because I generally prefer the DC universe and haven’t really been able to afford investing in both major publishers AND whatever indie comics take my fancy.
Everyone knows who Thor is and what his deal is. God of Thunder, hero and Avenger, and the son of Odin, the All-Father of Asgard (or Asgardia as it is now, I’m not sure why). The current state of affairs is laid out in an informative synopsis on page six (Marvel comics usually have these), with Odin returning from a self-imposed exile and butting heads with his wife Freyja, who has been ruling Asgardia as All-Mother. These capricious gods bicker over who is now in charge, what to do in response to a later threat, and how to deal with a very mopey Thor. Speaking of Thor, at the end of the Original Sin event, merely by whispering something in his ear (that we still don’t know) Nick Fury caused Thor to deem himself unworthy of wielding his hammer Mjolnir, dropping it during a battle on the moon. This issue finds him still by his hammer, totally unable to lift it, and nor can any of the other Asgardians including Odin. Meanwhile, Midgard (or, Earth) is being attacked by Frost Giants and Malekith the Accursed. Freyja and Odin argue over whether to respond, and Thor heads to the armoury to go and defend his ‘home’, and without Mjolnir he has to bring an axe and face the threat alone. No spoilers, but it does not go well. It isn’t until the final pages however, that we get to see the much anticipated new Thor. The inscription on the hammer is changed, and a new Goddess of Thunder holds Mjolnir aloft on the last page. We’ll have to wait until the next issue to actually see her in action though.
There has been a lot of coverage about the new Thor, with the announcement that she would be a woman actually being made on The View in the US. Read any comments thread on an article, Instagram picture about Thor, Twitter argument and any other terrible social media connection and you will see the same thing – rational people futilely trying to argue with people who hate the idea that Thor is changing (generally hate the idea of any change occurring) and insisting it will be terrible without reading the damn comic and finding out. We talked about the news on our podcast, and even though I hadn’t been reading the series my knee-jerk reaction was to say it was stunt-casting and a gimmick. Thinking about it for more than one second and it is clear that it isn’t at all, and even if it was, it worked. I’m reading the series, and I’ve put the rest of Jason Aaron’s Thor right to the top of my list of trades to buy because I enjoyed the hell out of this. Maybe coming in to this cold has made me less bothered by change, but Thor is still Thor, he’s just not got the powers of Thor (that sentence actually made sense in my head). There is a need for someone to step in and take up the powers and mantle, and in this case it just happens to be a woman.
Was it a gimmick to draw in new readers? Who cares? We want more people to read comics and for the medium to keep thriving. In addition, the female contingent of comic fandom is constantly underestimated, so having more balance in some of the biggest series and characters makes absolute sense to better reflect the state of those actually consuming the comics we love. That isn’t to say that now that Thor is a woman, only women will appreciate it, because guess what? It’s a fucking character, a superhero that we can all read and love and gender shouldn’t actually effect whether or not we want to read a book at all. If a story is well written then things like that shouldn’t matter, and it should be written to take into account an entire potential audience and not just 50% of them. Not accepting change is childish, and idiotic to assume that things will be permanent. Remember when every superhero ever died at some point, and how they’re not dead now? Thor will be Thor again eventually I’m sure, this is just a new and hopefully compelling story in which he is not the titular character and not the God of Thunder. Without instigating big changes, like a lot of the other stories happening at Marvel right now, characters become stale and boring. Stakes mean nothing if our hero always comes out on top, and is always the most powerful with nothing to challenge that.
Ultimately, I don’t think Jason Aaron was aiming to create all this controversy. I think he had an idea for a great story, and was trusted to run with it. The closest thing I have to a complaint is that the new Thor barely appears at all, but that has only made me certain I will be back for issue #2 because I want to see who she is, and how much ass she is going to kick. And you can guarantee that she will kick all sorts of ass. The old Thor (nomenclature gets difficult, ‘Original Thor’?) is the focus of the bulk of this issue anyway, and Aaron has indicated that he won’t exactly be taking a back seat. I thought the writing was really strong here, and I loved the Asgardian Shakespearean-style dialogue. My favourite line, from Freyja, was “I spoke with the mortal they call ‘The Captain of America’.”. That especially tickled me. I’ve seen a few comments about the art being good, but not as good as the previous artist on Thor: God of Thunder. The benefit of not having read that at all, is that I don’t have that complaint at all. I thought the art from Dauterman was great and the colours from Wilson were really vibrant.
This was really more of a poorly assembled rant than an actual review. Basically, you can’t know you are going to dislike something unless you actually try it out. Change has to occur for things to stay interesting, and to decide you hate something just because something has changed without giving the actual story a chance is misguided. In the letters section, Jason Aaron actually responds to a letter from a reader that genuinely says (before the issue has come out) “Now you have me seriously considering leaving comics altogether.”, coming back by stating that this is all part of the story he’s been building for the past two years, and pointing out the various others who have wielded the hammer in Thor’s stead. This sort of reaction is totally insane to me, especially as it is presumably from an actual adult rather than the child it sounds like. Aaron responds gracefully, whereas I probably would have called the guy a dick.
I loved this, and am genuinely interested in what will happen with this new Thor, what will happen to the old/original/Thor Odinsson/Thor-Classic Thor and especially in how they will interact with each other. I’ll carry on with this, find room in my budget for more Marvel, and start picking up the rest of Aaron’s run on Thor.
Score: 9 Ravens out of 10