Thor: The Goddess of Thunder

thor 04I have never had much interested in reading a Thor comic before, but when I heard about a change in direction that was leading to a woman wielding Mjolnir, I couldn’t pre-order the graphic novel fast enough, and once that was read I downloaded the remaining issues from the Marvel app.  Representation matters, and while I’m not exactly sure if I’m in favour of the idea of changing a characters skin colour or gender, I am fine with creating a new character who can take on the role previously held by a white, heterosexual male.  When Thor (who I’ll refer to as Odinson to avoid confusion) is no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir, a mysterious woman appears, hammer in hand and a mask over her face.  Who the woman is is the mystery Odinson is trying to uncover over the course of the story.  Only in issue #8 does the narrative move towards Thors point of view as her identity is revealed to the reader.  This does mean that we spend eight issues following a character without knowing who she is.  Certainly, the reader can take educated guesses.  One of the hints given to us is the different styles of language in Thor’s thoughts – more human – and vocals – more Asgardian.

thor 02This then led me on to thinking about Mjolnir in a way I hadn’t previously.  I assumed there was some kind of magical element to it due to the wielder having to be worthy, but it never occurred to me that there could be something more to it than that.  She questions the hammer several times as to whether it is alive and, of course, she doesn’t get an answer, but the implication here is that Thor is not simply the person who wields the hammer, but also the hammer itself.  This does go a long way to explaining Odinson’s depression and anger in the early issues – he’s not just lost his hammer, he’s lost a part of himself.

This suggestion of Mjolnir being more than just a chunk of metal and the idea that this new Thor may be a human is done subtly and is something I like about Jason Aaron’s writing.  These things are put out there for the reader to pick up on and muse on as oppose to being rammed down the their throats.

Less subtle is the portrayal of Dario Agger, the thorn in the side of our heroes.  While it would be wrong to say he isn’t an entertaining character to read, his behaviour – described by the comic as psychopathy – can at times be cartoonish.  One example of this would be his order to napalm his employees as a way of firing him.  Sure the dialogue sounds good, but it is so over the top that the threats of Mr Burns – a cartoon villain – to release the hounds don’t seem so silly any more.

In the final issue of this eight part series, a group of female super-heroes, along with Odinson, comes to the aid of Thor.  While it is wonderful to watch page after page of women kicking arse, the dialogue between them is often awkward and forced.  The writer tries to convey the idea that these women are all friends and close, to the point of friendly insults, but it just doesn’t work for me at all.

thor 05

Yeah, brilliant, Carol.  Ask someone for their opinion then call them an idiot for having said opinion.  While I’m not overly familiar with most of the women featured in this final issue, the few that I am seem out of character.  Aaron seems to be a bit uncomfortable writing these women.  With Thor he can spend time with the character and create someone who piques the readers interest.  But he struggles with the banter of secondary characters.  The women featured here come across as catty, bitchy and immature.

The art looks absolutely fantastic, for the most part.  Russell Dauterman’s strengths in this series lies with characters and set pieces.  The imagery of Thor flying through space or just striking a heroic pose are wonderful to look at and the settings, from Asgard to the bizarre Roxxon Island are so interesting I wanted to step into the pages and have a look around.  His weakness is action and once there was all-out fighting I found it very difficult to follow events from panel to panel, or to even understand what was happening.

But some nitpicking aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the first eight issues and very much look forward to reading more –

thor 07I really don’t know what the point is in reading Marvel and DC comics any more.  It really would be asking to much to have them just create a title and stick to it.  Why does everything have to be the prologue to some big summer event that no one gives two craps about?  Big crossover events are nothing more than stunts to sell comics.  I can understand a business needing to make money, but I’m getting bored of this constant strategy.  Why is ‘making money’ so rarely done by creating a well written and drawn title and building up the fan base?  Why is there a constant starting and stopping again approach to new titles?

What Marvel actually mean by ‘big new event series’ is a crossover with a shed-load of other characters, and if you want to enjoy this one comic with this one character in it, you’re going to have to read fifty other comics you don’t care about in order to understand what the hell is going on in it.

thor 08

Yeah, I think I’ll pass on that, Marvel.  I’ll go catch up with the Walking Dead and come back when your latest crossover event publicity stunt is over with.

Negativity aside, Thor: The Goddess of Thunder was a great comic to read.  It’s always enjoyable to read a female super hero who doesn’t need to define herself by the men in her life, and even when she does need help in a fight, that help comes in the form of a small army of women.  Jason Aaron presents us with a character who piques the curiosity of the reader and Russell Dautermans art is lovely to look at.  If this Thor gets another standalone comic again in the future I’ll wont be wasting any time in reading it.

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