Saturday, 3 October 2015

Thor, Volume 2: Who Holds the Hammer? Review (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman)

So here it is at last: Jason Aaron is finally done teasing readers with the identity of the new Thor as she removes her helm and reveals herself to be… 

.... Deadpool! Just kidding - as if I’d spoil that here! It is a surprise though and I loved the choice of who the new God of Thunder really is. 

The story in this volume is a bit thin as Aaron basically puts everything on the big reveal at the end to keep readers going. Thor Classic (or Prince Odinson of Asgard, as he’s calling himself now) has a list of potential suspects and he’s slowly crossing them off. His conclusions prove he is no detective.

Meanwhile it’s Thor and a small army of (almost entirely) female warriors against a new Destroyer (that giant armoured blasty thing from the first Thor movie). The Dario Agger/Malekith storyline is still bubbling away in the background but doesn’t go anywhere though we do find out Agger’s origins.

If Aaron’s script is only so-so, artist Russell Dauterman brings the thunder once more, producing some utterly gorgeous pages strewn with magic and lightning. It’s very colourful, dynamic art, that’s not just pretty to look at but exciting to see too. I’ve enjoyed this series all the more for Dauterman’s outstanding efforts, along with colourist Matthew Wilson’s high quality, vivid work. 

Thor Annual #1 is also included which features three short stories. Artist Timothy Truman joins Jason Aaron as he writes about future old Thor who’s miserable on his who-knows-th birthday because all his friends are long dead, so his three granddaughters decide to cheer him up. It’s sort of interesting with Aaron once again hitting the “god” angle of Thor pretty hard. 

Lumberjanes/Nimona creator Noelle Stevenson makes her Marvel debut (good hire, Marvel!) writing about current Thor proving her worthiness to the Warriors Three in a series of challenges. It’s a cute tale and I liked Marguerite Sauvage’s wispy art style. 

And pro-wrestler CM Punk writes, with Rob Guillory drawing, of a drinking contest between young Thor and Mephisto! This was surprisingly the best story in the book for me. Punk’s silly and funny tale tonally fits Guillory’s zany art style Chew fans will be very familiar with. Good stuff - the wrestler can write and Rob Guillory is still the best! 

As it’s a relatively short book (Thor Annual #1, Thor #6-8), Marvel beefs up the page count by including What If? #10 from 1978, a story of What If… Jane Foster had found the Hammer of Thor? In terms of quality, it’s a Silver Age comic, so, you know (sorry if you’re a Silver Age comics fan but books from that era suuuuuck!). Why only collect the current issues up to #8? Unfortunately the series is now over however Aaron/Dauterman are returning with a new Thor series under the All-New, All-Different Marvel lineup, Marvel's latest relaunch - and yes, Thor is still a girl. 

This short Thor series has been about introducing the re-imagined character to the new Marvel Universe more than anything and in that regard Jason Aaron’s done a great job. I think that’s why the story surrounding her was a bit weak, because it was always second banana. But there are a number of potentially electrifying storylines now set up that can be fully explored in the forthcoming new series. 

Along with the new Thor, the other notable aspect of this run was Russell Dauterman who showed readers that he’s one of Marvel’s notable artists - I wouldn’t be surprised if he now gets scads more high level work from them, and well-deserved too! 

Thor is a series that continues to be worthy of picking up - long may she be with us!

Thor, Volume 2: Who Holds the Hammer?

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