Hey, remember when we used to review funnybooks around here? Let’s get back to a bit of that, shall we…?
Thor: God of Thunder #1, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic
This book is pretty goddamn metal.
I mean, look at that shit! Lightning, armor, axes, hammers, a creepy dude in a hood… All that’s missing is some kind of faux-rune logo tarted up to look like it’s made of steel, and–
Oh. Right. Check and fucking check.
Aside from being totally metal-up-your-ass, the above illustration from series artist Esad Ribic also does a really nice job of illustrating the broad strokes of writer Jason Aaron’s story, which follows Thor in three distinct eras. On the right we’ve got the noble and heroic Present-Day Thor (or NOWThor, to mock the obnoxious marketing campaign behind this new #1 issue). Up top we have Future Thor, the haunted ruler of Asgard millennia from now. And on the left we have Young Thor, who hangs out with vikings, gets drunk on their mead, and has prodigious sex with their women. He’s an unreconstituted lout, and therefore the most entertaining.
As for the guy in the hood… I’m not 100% sure, but I’m assuming that he’s the villain of the piece: Gorr, the Butcher of Gods, who– Actually… Wait. Let me give that name the touch of awesome it deserves…
GORR! The Butcher of Gods!
Yes, Jason Aaron has created a divine serial killer. He’s created a divine serial killer, and given him a name so brilliantly dumb-ass that it’s worthy of Lee and Kirby at their best. We don’t even see Gorr in this first issue, but he’s already a great villain in my head because…
Well, because GORR!
But also because we see his handiwork in all three eras of the story, with god-corpses already piling up before we even get started, and a promise of a future that’s very dark indeed. It’s nice build-up that both delivers a little meat in the now and has enough spice to whet our appetites for what’s to come.
(An aside: Speaking of Gorr, and how great he probably is… I’ve been seeing and hearing about quite a few new characters popping up in the work-for-hire spandex field of late. Which makes me wonder if the creative teams have been given a sweeter deal on future use of those characters, or if we’re seeing yet another generation of writers and artists giving away marketable ideas. Considering some of the things I’ve heard about DC tightening up the contracts under Warner Brothers’ greater corporate control, I doubt it’s the former. But I guess we’ll find out when we see who’s suing for royalties ten years down the line…)
Anyway. This first issue also sees Aaron hint at what’s up his sleeve with this whole “three eras of Thor” story structure. No, it isn’t to lube up history so it can accomodate the insertion of the Gorr retcon. We’ve seen that crap a dozen times before, and this ain’t that. No, Aaron’s actually going to be charting Thor’s character growth over time. And I think he’ll be looking at it, appropriately enough, through the character’s choice of weapons. As you can see in the picture above, Young Thor is fighting with a giant axe. But NOWThor has Mjolnir, his more familiar magic hammer. And Future Thor has both Mjolnir and the Odinsword. How does that indicate growth? Well, Thor had to earn the right to use Mjolnir, after all…
…and if this page of preview art is anything to go by, that problem will be a plot point:
I assume a similar personal evolution is necessary before Thor can use the Odinsword (which has, in the past, been cast as a weapon of such awesome power that it can only be used by the All-Father Himself). But I think it might require a physical change, too. In the Future Thor sequence this issue, Mjolnir seems too small in his hand, and I was thinking at first that Ribic had just messed up the perspective. Then I realized: Odin is often drawn over-sized, as if he’s just too much for normal human-sized reality to contain. The Odinsword is of similar proportions, and Future Thor’s swinging it around one-handed. Which means that Thor gets bigger, and Mjolnir does not.
Which, now that I’ve put it that way, seems potentially brilliant in all kinds of ways. For the moment, though, that little visual cue indicates a change a scale without making a big deal about it. That’s the sort of nice, subtle touch that’ll keep me coming back to pay my four bucks every month.
And, yes, I will be back. I don’t spend four dollars on a funnybook lightly. I want something at least a little bit extraordinary for that kind of money, but I think I might just get it here. Aaron’s story is intriguing, and Ribic’s art (as you can see) is stunning. He can’t do 12 issues a year in that style, of course, and so we’ll see what the quality of the inevitable fill-in art is like. But, barring a complete art-fail… and assuming that Aaron’s left alone to tell his story without Marvel cross-over event shenanigans… I can see myself slapping down that four bucks without blinking an eye.
Oh, and also this: