Comic Book Review – The War of the Realms #6 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

Cover by Arthur Adams & Matthew Wilson (Marvel Comics)

Its been a while since we did a comic book review, but this week the finale of Marvel’s The War of the Realms came out with issue #6, so it seemed appropriate to dive into! This event has been the culmination of years of work on Thor from writer Jason Aaron, with interior art on the event by Russell Dauterman, cover by Arthur Adams, colours by Matthew Wilson and lettering by VC’s Joe Sabino.

War has come to Midgard, and the Avengers and the rest of the world’s heroes struggle to fight off the forces of Malakith the Accursed and his allies, who have already laid waste to all of the other realms. Thor hangs from the World Tree in the middle of the sun, seeking an answer for how to defeat Malakith and end the war. Meanwhile Malakith awaits Thor at Stonehenge, where he has his parents Odin and Freya hostage and will kill them unless Thor alone comes to face him.

In this finale, Earth’s forces turn the tide on their invaders. Despite their losses, in New York (the exact centre of the Marvel Universe I believe) Captain Marvel tangles with Sindr, Queen of Muspelheim, while Daredevil (now the God Without Fear) leads the charge against Laufey, the Kind of the Frost Giants. At Stonehenge, Thor Odinson takes an artful interpretation of the fact that only ‘Thor’ can penetrate the magical shield Malakith has erected to bring allies in with him, as both his older and younger selves join the fight, along with Jane Foster: Thor, Goddess of Thunder. Together they take on Malakith and some of his strongest forces to save Odin and Freya and stop the War of the Realms.

The War of the Realms is the payoff of years of work, with possibly more set up than any event comic I have ever read. This is ridiculous superhero comics at its best, and Aaron and co totally stick the landing. With 6 issues they have told a complete story, that not only never felt like it was treading water (as events often do), but was also somehow magically delivered on time (as events never are). Nothing drags, everything is just a constant dopamine hit. Aaron’s character work over years, particularly with Odinson and Jane Foster, is so strong at this point and both have immensely satisfying arcs that finish up here, and have so much potential for the future. Most supporting characters are largely just that in this finale, but a few get the chance to shine (notably Daredevil). But this was always a Thor event. There are just a lot of Thors to share the spotlight.

Art by Dauterman, Wilson & Sabino (Marvel Comics)

Speaking of a dopamine hit – Russell Dauterman’s art on this book. Not to take anything away from the more recent arc on Thor, but I loved Dauterman during the Jane Foster era, and it is great to see him stretch into the full Marvel roster. But the scale and magic in this finale are what is truly impressive, from the insides of a boiled sun, to both a storm of gods and a god storm, everything is just gorgeous. And constantly on fire. Wilson’s colours make the art burst off the pages, with a richness of palette that makes the ethereal and the brutal seem real. Sabino’s letter work impresses too, with so much going on and so much being said, it only takes centre stage when it needs to, and remains discretely guiding the rest of the issue.

The War of the Realms has been a triumph of an event, hitting on all cylinders and showing the full scale of how ridiculous and amazing superhero comics can be, especially when you have a great art team that can deliver the insane ideas of the writer to their fullest. I can’t wait to see what is coming next for Thor and Jane, despite the bittersweet knowledge that the story to come in King Thor will be Aaron’s last on the character. Pick this up at your local comic shop now!

 

Comic Book Review – Thor #1 (Marvel Comics)

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Then he reviews one every other week.

This week I read Thor #1 from Marvel Comics, the latest relaunch for the God of Thunder under Jason Aaron. Mike del Mundo provided art for part one, ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, with colour assists from Marco D’Alfonso, and Christian Ward drew part two ‘The Grace of Thor’, with letters on both by VC’s Joe Sabino.

The Mighty Thor is dead. Long live Thor. In ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, after the defeat of Mangog and the destruction of both the hammer Mjolnir and Asgardia, Jane Foster has reluctantly stepped down as Thor to finally focus on the treatment she needs for her cancer. The Odinson has taken up his old mantle again, with a fancy new golden arm and a lot of hammers, and with Jane’s direction he is tracking down displaced Asgardian artefacts before they fall into the wrong hands. Meanwhile, the bifrost is under repair, and until it is fixed there is no way of accessing other realms – a big problem, as Malekith the Accursed wages his War of Realms and Thor is powerless to stop it.

In the second story, ‘The Grace of Thor’, a one eyed old Thor and his grand daughters are watching over a rebooted Midgard. After all life ended on the planet long ago, now over 200 years have passed since they seeded life there once again in the forms of ‘Jane’ and ‘Steve’. As Jane dies, Thor sombrely reveals the state of the afterlife, before flying to the edge of the universe, which is rapidly ending. And there he meets the final incarnation of the Phoenix.

I hope Jason Aaron keeps writing Thor comics for a good long time yet, regardless of who Thor actually is. The arc of Jane Foster as Thor was wonderful, and enjoyed a satisfying wrap up too while not ending her story within this world. The Odinson slipping back into being Thor seems effortless, but to maintain his God of Thunder status he seems to be effectively supported by his own version of MI6, with Jane filling the role of M, and Odin and Screwbeard outfitting him with gadgets and magics in place of Q. It means that the usual brawns over brains approach needs to be taken with an element of improvisation rarely seen from this Thor. Aaron’s script is excellent, unsurprising as these are characters he has been in charge of for years now, but the new status quo of Thor and his supporting cast is still fitting in to the ongoing narrative of the plot he has been driving for a while now.

Mike del Mundo’s art is otherworldly, and yet feels very at place here. I feel that he is even better placed on Thor than his recent run on Avengers. There are some stellar action scenes in ‘God of Thunder Reborn’, but the quiet moments in the Brooklyn resettlement of Asgardian refugees works very well too, bolstered by the warm colours that often accompany del Mundo’s pages. For ‘The Grace of Thor’, Christian Ward’s skills are perfectly suited to the grand space sequences on display, from fighting a space shark to speeding to the universe’s end, and these pages are awash with cleaner colours than the first part that suits the story just as well. Rather than feeling jarring having two stories in one issue, the two artists sync right up with their respective tales, enabling them to complement each other.

To say Thor #1 is a great start would be disingenuous and a disservice to all that came before it from Aaron and the other great artists who have shaped his run on Thor. More this is a great continuation that may serve as a jumping on point for anyone who has slept on the series up until now (but if you have you should absolutely go back and read it all in trades). I’ll miss the Goddess of Thunder, but I suspect that we haven’t seen the last of her. Regardless, get this at your local comic book shop or online!

Score: 9 Asgardian Artefacts out of 10

Comic Review – Thor #1

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.

New Thor

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.

Buy this.

 

Score: 9 Ravens out of 10