Thursday, 26 February 2015

Thor, Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder Review (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman)

"Whosoever holds the hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of... Thor" – inscription on the side of Mjolnir. 

In the Marvel event comic Original Sin, a secret was whispered to Thor in the midst of a battle – a secret that made him unworthy of his enchanted hammer, Mjolnir! The hammer now rests on the surface of the moon, unmoved by Thor and even its creator, Odin. 

Freyja, the All Mother, has been running Asgard while Odin has been watching over his imprisoned brother – but now he’s returned and wants his throne back. With Asgard’s rule disrupted and Thor’s power severely weakened, the dark elf sorcerer Malekith aligns himself with the Frost Giants to launch an attack on Midgard, freezing Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and leaving the planet vulnerable – who will step up to save the world?

“There must always be a Thor…”

A mysterious woman appears on the moon – and lifts Mjolnir! Who is she? She’s Thor! 

Jason Aaron’s written maybe my favourite Thor book ever with Goddess of Thunder. I love it when Marvel does something risky with the status quo - remember Superior Spider-Man: what if Doc Ock was Spidey? It sounded completely nuts but it turned out to be the best Spider-Man storyline in years! Same with Thor – what if he was a she? Brilliant results! 

It’s great that Aaron dreamt up that change and kept the name Thor – not something embarrassing like Thorina or Thorette: Thor! She’s also as tough as the dude and brings the thunder just as hard so the comic is as action-packed as any other Thor story, it’s simply that the new Thor is female. She even wears the same outfit, though she keeps the helm on at all times which obscures the top half of her face and therefore her identity, like an old school superhero mask (unfortunately we don’t discover who she is in this first volume). 

I like how Aaron addresses the critics of the female Thor in the comic, manifesting their complaints (“feminists are ruining everything!”) in supervillain Crusher Creel and having Thor punch him – “that’s for saying ‘feminist’ like it’s a four-letter word! … and for the robbery…!” Even Titania, Creel’s supervillain wife, thinks her hubby’s a dumbass for complaining the new Thor’s a woman!

Male Thor (Thor classic?) has some fine moments too. Even without Mjolnir he goes to face Malekith and the Frost Giants head on because that’s what heroes do whether they’ll lose or not – the mark of a true warrior! Also, if you’ve been following Aaron’s other Thor series, particularly the issues featuring old Thor from the future, we see part of how present Thor becomes that old man in this book. Even tropes that get overused in superhero comics where superheroes fight superheroes feel fresh here as we see Thor vs Thor, a unique conflict. 

What I enjoyed seeing best was that in this Thor book, Thor classic isn’t the guy charging about smashing stuff with his hammer – new Thor is. Instead Jason Aaron’s made him the world’s clumsiest sleuth as he begins to ham-fistedly investigate the secret identity of new Thor. The scene where he interviews his ex, the Lady Sif, was funny and I’m looking forward to seeing Thor work his way down his list! 

The only critiques I’d make for this one are that the Frost Giant plot wasn’t as strong mostly because the draw here is female Thor, so it got overshadowed, and that Russell Dauterman doesn’t draw all of the issues (Jorge Molina fills in on the final issue). 

Dauterman draws some sweeping epic battle scenes between new Thor and the Frost Giants, displaying the full range of her new powers as the Goddess of Thunder (powers that, admittedly, she comes to master very quickly – I guess Mjolnir’s guiding her or something?). Matthew Wilson’s wonderfully bright colouring gives the book a glowing appearance as if to mark the rise of a new hero; terrific work from the art team. 

New Thor is a great character and this first book is an awesome introduction to her. It makes me want to see her taking over the Thor movies after Chris Hemsworth’s third (legions of Hemsworth fans drown out the suggestion “Boo! We need more Hemsworth – and more Tom Hiddleston too! And make Hemsworth shirtless on screen the whole time!”). 

Jason Aaron’s thing seems to be creating one new Thor after another. He started his run with young Thor, present Thor and future, old Thor. To the ranks is added female Thor, and still it doesn’t feel like too many Thors – I don’t know how he’s doing it but it’s a helluva juggling act! 

The Goddess of Thunder is here - and she is very worthy!

Thor, Volume 1: Goddess of Thunder

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