First of all, an apology. This issue of “Thor” is just a good comic. It’s not phenomenal but it’s not a train wreck. I wish I could review something else but with DC inundating us with piss-poor villain one shots, “Battle of the Atom” spreading stupidity like herpes, and “Infinity” occupying every other hero on the other side of the universe; my options were terribly limited. Now don’t be disheartened, “Thor” kicks off with a brand new story arc and in the true spirit of an epic, everything is grandiose and legendary just as any self-respecting fantasy story should be.
The issue kicks off in Hel, that crazy Norse Underworld where the lore is made up and the points don’t matter. That’s right the lore is like Joe Biden and ice cream, always there but different every time. Anyways, this time it’s an ice world but the art really conveys this feeling of desolation and loneliness. Souls are trapped in the ice together and yet it’s this huge expanse of frozen wasteland interrupted by one lone tower. This ominous tower of frigid cold, white and bare stands as a reminder of the hopeless nature of the afterlife and the inevitability. I know, super kick ass. But the whole first part of the story is about these elves and their secret mission in this dominion of Hel.
The first part of the book with this super-secret stealth team of dark elves is heavy exposition with no dialogue. Personally I always get mad about this—not that there wasn’t any dialogue, there isn’t supposed to be. What kind of stealth mission would this be if they were yapping away the whole time? But what I don’t get is that writers can’t just let there be a silence. It talks down to me, it holds my hand, I don’t like it. I can see the Dark Elf climbing the fortress, you don’t need to explain that he is on a mission. Though I am not a Dark Elf expert I feel safe assuming Dark Elves don’t get crews together and dip into Hel for fun. Although the character doing the exposition cuts out his own tongue so I guess it would be mean to take his narration away from him too. I just wish writers would trust their readers to understand these images and their artists to convey these images. Writers have their own job with writing compelling characters.
Let’s do a quick rundown of what Gods are, especially Asgardian, especially in Marvel. They are over the top in every way: when they eat, drink, celebrate, battle, perform feats, save lives. The point is when an Asgardian steps on a battlefield it’s not for a simple fist fight. When the Gods ride out for battle, they shake the mountains. Truth be told, not much of that happened in this issue—don’t get me wrong, everything was bombastic; Thor used a lightning bolt to cauterize the stump where an arm used to be. But I don’t fault this issue too much for god action. There was plenty of fighting and this means there can be an appropriate build up. Too often the hero comes out swinging all of his heft in the first issue of the arc and then where does he go to from there? This gave me hints of a battle in the future, like a teaser for the big kerfuffle. When the story does finally come to a showdown I want it to be the most massive, Earth shaking battle, one that Thor has to use every ounce of his heroic strength to conquer. Otherwise I’m just reading another story where Thor wins.
Comparing “Thor” to “Invincible” is… difficult. Yeah, I know they’re both comic books shut up. “Persepolis” is technically a comic book and there is no way I am comparing that one to “Invincible”. “Thor” is a fantasy epic; it’s supposed to have flowery language juxtaposed against the backdrop of bloody conquest. “Invincible” is a contemporary epic; it’s supposed to have current language juxtaposed against the backdrop of bloody conquest. I think the best way is to compare character development. Every issue of “Invincible” features Mark Grayson, the reader knows who he is and his personality in just a few panels and yet ten issues later it will still be Mark but not the same Mark. “Thor” doesn’t have that luxury. But what it does have is a very well established and developed core of characters that are unmistakable as Gods.