Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Lost Cat, Owly Vol 1, Thor Vol 1: The God Butcher reviews

One of my all-time favourite comics writers/artists, Jason, returns with his latest masterpiece, Lost Cat. Read the full review here: http://whatculture.com/comics/lost-cat-review-jason.php


I don't usually read all-ages comics but I picked up Andy Runton's Owly on the strength of Grant Morrison recommending it - if Morrison thinks it's good, I'm giving it a shot!

Owly is a silent comic (wordless) featuring a lonely Owl who can't seem to make friends among other birds but becomes friends with a worm. He helps the displaced worm find his family again before sadly departing back to his solitary life. But Wormy sticks with him so he won't be alone and a great friendship begins!

The second story has Owly and Wormy make friends with a pair of hummingbirds for the summer before they sadly migrate South for the winter only to return again in the spring.

The stories are very sweet and teach kids about the value and importance of friendship. Runton makes the storytelling seem effortless through facial expressions and body language, pacing the panels just right so you completely understand what's happening in the story, showing an artist who truly understands the comics medium. The characters are all very likeable, especially Owly who has an innocence about him that's refreshing and completely appropriate for a kids' book.

Morrison said about this book that it's very pure and I totally understand what he means - Owly is a delightful read but young readers will get the most out of it.

Owly Volume 1: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer


Jason Aaron + Thor = Sure Thing, right? Well... no. Jason Aaron is definitely one of my favourite comics writers due to penning the superb Scalped and the ongoing Marvel series Wolverine and the X-Men, but his more recent stuff like Thanos Rising and this Thor series have felt really lacking in the quality he usually brings to his projects. Maybe he's stretched, or just uninspired, but I didn't enjoy this very poor effort.

Aaron shows Thor at three different points in his long life - as a young man, living amongst Vikings in the 9th century; as he is in our time, an Avenger; and in the future, where he resembles his dad with one eye, has one arm, and looks old and worn out. Gorr the God Butcher has been, well, butchering gods for millennia but kept Thor alive until the last as he is the only one who stood up to him. Why is he slaughtering gods? He doesn't quite like them. Doesn't like their attitudes or the way they comport themselves, so they've gotta die. That's basically it for character motivation.

So this entire book is Thor, at various points in his life, seeing the effects of Gorr's work, looking at the slaughtered gods and swearing to hunt him down. Gorr meanwhile continues killing gods. Gorr and Thor sometimes cross paths and fight - no one dies or seems to be majorly hurt, despite limbs being hacked off. More gods die. There's a giant lake of god blood. The story is to be continued. The end. Very unsatisfying!

The story is very weak and repetitive and the characters barely interesting. Thor is an ok character but I feel he's still a bit one-dimensional - despite the various stages in his life, he remains brash and overconfident only with varying levels of both. Gorr on the other hand remains boringly powerful. There isn't an obstacle in his path that causes him a hindrance - he can overcome them all without any sign of effort. He can create armies of powerful beings out of nothing, he can morph his body into powerful weapons (his arm turns into an unbreakable black sword), he can regrow limbs, he can travel through time, he can do whatever, whenever, however. Is there anything more pointless than an invincible bad guy? What's more annoying is that he's bound to fall in the second book in some contrived way ("No, not my Achilles heel which you just discovered in Volume 2!"). His character design and invincibility reminded me a lot of Super Buu from Dragon Ball who's another alien god-like creature who can't be beaten - so even though he's not much of a character, it looks like Aaron's lifted him from an older Japanese comic rather than bothering to create someone original.

I've always known Thor is a god but it wasn't until I read this book and the god characters show up in their scores that I really questioned gods in Marvel. Though I'm non-religious, a god to me should be more abstract and intangible than simply a human or alien with superpowers, and even then only some of them seem to have them! In this book, gods are basically replicas of humans or aliens and live on orbiting moons - it just seems too literal an interpretation. It also makes them seem less than gods and more like the rest of us whom we've wrongly assigned the label gods - in which case, they really aren't gods at all. Which is fine, maybe that was Aaron's intention - I get the impression he's non-religious too - but it makes the story that much less impressive. The God Butcher is really just an unkillable, angry alien who hates beings whom less powerful beings call gods - a Butcher instead. The story becomes far less dramatic and much more mundane.

I'm also not a fan of Esad Ribic's art. It's not terrible but somehow the subject matter of Thor and epic-ish battles combined with his style make so many panels in this book look like cover art for 80s heavy metal albums.

It's surprising to see Jason Aaron produce such an uninspired comic but that's what this is. The God Butcher is a barely involving storyline that jumps around in time to make you think things are happening when they're not. The story barely has a pulse, the characters are dull, and this book is utterly tedious to read. Thank god(s) for Wolverine and the X-Men!

Thor: God of Thunder Volume 1: The God Butcher

1 comment:

  1. Wow...this is perhaps one of the best stories in Thor since the Walt Simonson days. Brilliantly plotted, beautiful art, and a truly terrifying bad guy. Gorr seems to be very complex despite simple motivations. Not one issue has been 'fluff'. Never boring. Highly recommend.