Most mainstream comics suffer from inadequate pacing. Most issues do very little with large ideas, kind of rushing through the narrative in a way that can really hurt the story. That’s why I prefer to read most Marvel or DC titles in trade, because then it seems (somewhat) less haphazard. However, one of the few mainstream titles I’m reading as published, Thor, God of Thunder continues to impress. Most notably is the story itself. It’s interesting, genuinely engaging, and clever. I appreciate most that Jason Aaron knows the limitations of the medium. A single issue comic is usually 22 pages, which isn’t a lot, especially considering that most of the script is interpreted visually.
The story takes it’s time, and that’s a good thing. Issue #2 opens with Thor in his younger days, trying to lift the hammer that would later make him famous. Of course, he can’t do it just yet, spurring some Ron Burgundy style expletives. Yeah, that sounds silly, but it works. Part of writing a comic based around an immortal norse god is knowing when to employ the right mixture of unchecked masculinity and over-the-top dialogue. Aaron does a good job of presenting both in a satisfying way. When Thor exclaims “By Odin’s beard!” it’s understood that Thor actually knows Odin, and that beard is probably holy. Anyways, it’s that kind of suspended disbelief a comic reader needs.
Thor, God of Thunder #1 set up a story line known as “The God Butcher.” Basically, there’s some malevolent force that is going around killing all the gods, like a serial killer who’s obsessed with deities. As a testament to Aaron’s story pacing at an unusual (for comics) speed, The God Butcher isn’t even shown until issue #2, and so far he hasn’t even been named. Esad Ribic does a great job with art and coloring, as evident in the reveal of the butcher. A small downside is that he kind of looks like Lord Voldermort, though that may be the fault of J.K. Rolling’s slow take over of nerd culture, more so than Ribic’s character design. Even more so, the quasi-demonic look that was likely the goal of Ribic is something of a character archetype and when working with ancient mythology as fiction, I think that’s acceptable.
The majority of issue #2 focuses on the “Young Thor” timeline. There are flashes of present day and “Old Thor,” which are both very satisfying as they work in tandem with “Young Thor’s” thoughts and actions. It adds a level of depth to the story while connecting the separate timelines and previous issue with what the reader is currently experiencing. Like I said, it’s very clever.
The issue is also satisfying on a visceral level. There are several pages of action, blood, punching, screaming, horse decapitation, and thunder. In fact, the thunder is the best part, and the final blow in an impressively epic battle. My favorite scene, however, includes Thor mounting a winged horse. That’s right, Thor, God of Thunder, rides a pegasus. Does anyone want to listen to Led Zeppelin? Aaron does some impressive things with Thor, God of Thunder issue #2. The writing is good, the story and dialogue all work, but the action is also satisfying. It fulfills the super hero comic medium while maintaing an expertly crafted plot. Think of an action movie written by Shakespeare (kind of).
Of all the current Marvel Now! titles, Thor, God of Thunder continues to be my favorite. It’s a surprise hit, in my opinion, because I never cared much for Thor. However, as someone who’s always loved comics but was never interested in the character, I’m pleasantly surprised with the quality of this title. This is exactly what every Marvel Now! book should seek to do.