I’ve been a fan of the Thor comics for a while but with all these so-called “adult” responsibilities I’ve had little chance to really keep up with today’s comics. I finally managed to request the first two Thor: God of Thunder trades, The God Butcher and Godbomb, for the library and man Jason Aaron and Essad Ribic absolutely live up the litany of great writers and artists of yore.
I feel I should almost preface this bit of reviewing by saying that I love almost anything that throws together the words Marvel and Cosmic. I absolutely love the weird “out-there” material of Marvel Comics and there isn’t nearly quite enough of it on the shelves to sate my hunger for it. I desperately miss the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning take on cosmic Marvel and while today’s cosmic Marvel series, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy, are entertaining both have been far too involved with Earth-based Marvel heroes to really sate my need for the the weird stuff. With the opening arc of Thor: God of Thunder, The God Butcher, that need is met quite handily.
It’s a bold move opening a series with a character stripped of his iconic vestiges. However, that’s just how Jason Aaron kicks things off opening the story with a flashback to Thor’s impetuous youth. Young Thor is brash, arrogant, and quick to anger. He wears more traditional viking clothing and has yet to prove worthy to wield the mighty Mjolnir and instead he holds the vicious axe Jarnbjorn (seen also in Uncanny Avengers). It isn’t long before Thor, living and fighting among 11th century Viking warriors, encounters the mangled body of deceased god.
It is readily apparent that Thor: God of Thunder leans more heavily on the cosmic aspects of the Marvel Universe looking at Asgard and Thor as a part of a greater, more unified cosmic whole. Reader glimpse alien pantheons (the fate of which you can guess at given the name of the villain) and wondrous sites that are tinged with a certain darkness. Aaron has always seemed to me a writer who leaned heavily on darker, more violent themes and the combination of those elements with the wonder and weirdness of Marvel’s cosmic landscape is far more enjoyable than I would have expected.
Gorr, the titular, God Butcher is a fascinating creation. Ravaged throughout live by gods who do not seem to hear the cries of their worshipers he becomes embittered and angry. Gorr, while an alien, is not too dissimilar from humans in this regard and his anger and rage over a seemingly cruel, dispassionate god are believable even if they are taken to extremes. I will say that Gorr’s story is a bit predictable and it wasn’t too difficult to see where is suddenly cosmic power was going to lead him. Of course, journeys aren’t really about the destination, and Gorr’s tale is one that is fascinating to watch even if we can see its end coming.
The God Butcher and Godbomb unfold over multiple time periods following three different iterations of Thor. We have the more well-known present day Thor, the brash and youthful Thor, and the wizened and grizzled older Thor. Thanks to a touch of time travel Aaron brings these various versions of Thor together for results both thrilling and humorous. While both volumes touch on rather dark and heavy themes (the nature of what it means to be a god) Aaron does manage to interject some humor into the story which definitely serves to lighten the mood and giver readers a break from the dire threat the looms across the comic.
And of course there is Esad Rebic. This is a man who can draw. Rebic works in the more traditional medium of pencil (rather than digital), scanning his work into the computer only later. Additionally, Rebic forgoes an inker instead using pencil grayscaling and digital manipulation to give his work more depth and definition (information found here). Colorist Ive Svorcina uses more muted tones throughout the book that definitely help enhance Rebic style. Rebic’s style lacks the kineticism of past Thor artists but does give the title the more grandiose feel of an epic rather than a simple adventure.
I have Vol. 3, The Accursed, sitting on my desk waiting to be read; it ties more directly into Thor: The Dark World and I’m less excited about reading it than I was the first two volumes. Thor: God of Thunder is a damned fine book and if you’ve been a fan of Thor in the past I definitely recommend you give Aaron’s run a shot.