Comic Review: Generations: The Thunder #1 (Marvel Comics)

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

While Marvel wraps up their current event, Secret Empire, they are already laying the groundwork for their next event, Marvel Legacy, that will apparently smash together classic characters and their more recent legacy counterparts into a new status quo. This starts with the Generations one-shots, where the current and classic versions of several of Marvel’s most recognisable characters team up for a short adventure. My first foray into this is The Thunder, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Mahmud Asrar, with colours by Jordie Bellaire and letters from VC’s Joe Sabino.

“The Vanishing Point – An instant apart! A moment beyond! Loosed from the shackles of past, present and future – a place where time has no meaning! But where true insight can be gained! Make your choice! Select your destination! This journey is a gift…”

The Thunder, you may be able to guess, is a Thor-centric comic starring The Mighty Thor Jane Foster, who is the current wielder of Mjolnir and Goddess of Thunder, and The Unworthy Thor, who is the Odinson without the hammer. But not the current Odinson (recently star of a comic called The Unworthy Thor), instead this is Thor before he could ever wield Mjolnir but is still called Thor. It’s confusing.

Odin chastises his son for trying to lift such a dangerous weapon again, and summons him to greet some guests in the great halls of Asgard. But Thor, answering prayers from a group of Vikings set on invading Egypt, speeds off on goat-back to aide his faithful. There he finds Apocalypse, and has quite the fight on his hands. Until a time-displaced Jane Foster arrives to help out. After a little confusion, the pair waste little time in bringing the thunder.

Jason Aaron has been writing Thor (both Odinson and Jane Foster) for a while now, and continues to surprise, especially in how much variation he brings to the various levels of youthful arrogance the Odinson has over the millennia. And the pair are both reminded of what is key to any Thor, and that is humanity. The Thunder is incredibly fun, which is what these Generations books should be aiming for. As for the mystery of why Jane Foster was thrust back in time, or those final pages with Odin? I think we will find out in Legacy, and perhaps what The Vanishing Point is at the end of Secret Empire. At least this year’s event isn’t overrunning and hanging over the ongoing state of the Marvel Universe quite so much as last year’s Civil War II.

Key to Aaron’s enormous success to date with writing Thor comics is being paired up with artists who deliver on his vision and make the gods of thunder seem real. Mahmud Asrar draws jaw-dropping action worthy of those who have come before, and the splash pages are gorgeous to behold. Jodie Bellaire as usual brings colours in that only make the art better, with the lightning almost jumping off the page.

I have no idea where Legacy or the Marvel Universe is currently headed, but if it as fun as The Thunder then I can’t wait.

Score: 9 Ugly Men out of 10

Book Review – Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

Ian likes books. Here is what he thought of one of them.

Odin, who is third, who is wanderer, who sacrificed himself to himself for knowledge and power. Loki, whose misdeeds range from mischievous to murderous. Thor, the strongest of the gods but, it’s fair to say, not the smartest. These are the central trio of Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. Surrounding them a supporting cast of gods and giants and monsters. Always present in the background is Ragnarok, the death of the gods- is it yet to come?

Norse Mythology is a collection of retold Norse myths- Gaiman has worked primarily from centuries old source material rather than rehashing popular versions of the modern era. The prose is sparse, more reminiscent of children’s books of myth and legend than the rich descriptive world-building Gaiman is known for. These are stories- what is told is only what is necessary. Every detail highlights character or propels plot. These gods are not benevolent omniscients- they are human in their wants and desires and virtues and flaws. Capricious and prideful, they barrel through a world that is painted in broad brush strokes. Minor details hint at the endless further stories beyond this collection- what we see is that polished gleam of ice that sits above the surface.

Loki’s children and Freya’s wedding are the stand out tales. Almost every story in the collection could stand alone, but together they form an arc from the beginning of time to Ragnarok, the death of the gods. The Norse universal creation myth is strikingly bizarre in its details, and it is testament to the skillful writing that some of the more absurd aspects never overshadow the underlying feeling of genesis and timeless truth. The ambiguity of description allows the reader to fill in the blanks- we know Loki is handsome, but little else. We know Valhalla and Valkyries, but we do not dwell overlong on specifics.

A gorgeous aspect of these stories is the lack of clear moral lessons. Sometimes the good are rewarded and the evil punished, but just as often the opposite is true- few are the unimpeachable in this world. So often the problems that pursue the gods are of their own devising- and who can judge the gods themselves? A highlight is the tale of Fenris-wolf, so ambiguous a character. Can you truly blame him for his actions?

Marvel have been digging into the seams of Norse Mythology for decades now, and the modern iteration of Loki is arguably one of the most popular characters in their cinematic universe. Reading these myths, it is surprising to see which aspects of character and story have been kept and which have been twisted in this transformation from fireside tale to movie- certainly differences abound (specifically Marvel’s Odin pales in comparison to the All-Father of myth), but there is a comfortable recognition. These are characters and archetypes we know well, and the familiar cadence of myth is a balm. Indeed some of the more boisterous tales are reminiscent of comics in their form- I await the inevitable graphic adaptation of these tales eagerly.

Norse Mythology– this myth, this is a book to sit faithfully on your bookshelf to be plucked at occasionally when only old tales will make sense, this is a book to read aloud by firelight to friends and family, a book to read alone as rain floods the world outside and Ragnarok comes.

I highly recommend it.

Review- Ian Green @ianthegreen

You can pick the book up below!

Comic Review – Thor #8

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he reviews of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

As Secret Wars continues to roll on, we’ve started to see the end of a few Marvel Comics series before the entire landscape of the Marvel Universe changes at the end of the event. This week Thor finished with issue #8, wrapping up the first run for the new Goddess of Thunder introduced after Odinson became unworthy to wield the hammer Mjolnir and a mystery woman picked it up instead. Thor was published by Marvel Comics, written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Russell Dauterman, with colours by Matthew Wilson and letters from VC’s Joe Sabino. Although this was the last issue in this run, Aaron will be writing the upcoming Thors tie in to Secret Wars, so it won’t be the end of the story.

At the end of the last issue, Thor was confronted by the Destroyer, controlled by Cul at the behest of his brother Odin the All-Father. Furious that someone else has taken the hammer, the Destroyer was sent to claim it back. However, a whole host of heroes turned up to aide her, including Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Freya the All-Mother, Odinson and Lady Sif along with various other Asgardians. The group work together to fight the machine, but it’s still a tough battle. Afterwards, Odinson speaks to Thor, desperate to finally find out her identity. He’s narrowed his list down to just one name, certainly made easier after a large number of the candidates fought alongside them just now, and just wants her to admit it and tell him how. He even promises to share the words that Nick Fury told him that made him unworthy… until the person he thought he was talking to turned up to shout at them both. Taking the opportunity to avoid further questions, Thor flies away to hide out in secret. But on the final page, her identity is revealed just to the readers.

This was another great issue from Jason Aaron, and I am very sad to see this book go as it was one of my most anticipated every time it was due. Every issue was really solid superhero storytelling, with a compelling mystery behind the new Thor’s identity, further machinations from both villains and supposed gods and brilliant dialogue. Throughout, the juxtaposition between the inner monologue of a woman that was clearly from Earth (or at least not from Asgardia) and the flowery Shakespearian language that was spoken aloud was a lot of fun to read. Dauterman’s art has been excellent too, to the extent that I found that I really missed it during the fill-in issue after the first arc. Here it really with the opportunity to draw so many of the Marvel heroines taking on the Destroyer, with an array of different attacks that look great, and Wilson’s colours help to make them pop out of the page.

Thor ended this short run as strongly as it started, and I’m reassured that the reason for it ending is due to Secret Wars and not due to sales, which were pretty good according to Aaron on the letters page. For anyone that dismissed this series because they ‘didn’t like Thor turning into a chick’, pull your head out of your rectum and actually give things a chance rather than having a knee jerk reaction. The Goddess of Thunder has been a great character to read, and while I’m sure Odinson will lift the hammer again (and Steve will return to being Cap, and Tony will stop being even more of a douche. Calm down nerds) I hope this new Thor remains, even if it ends up being through some form of comic book handwavery (I’m going to guess that Secret Wars ends with 2 Mjolnirs on Earth-616). Pick this up at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 9 Frost Giants 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