Written by Roger Langridge and drawn by Chris Samnee
Published by Marvel Comics
One of my earliest comic book memories is of Thor. It was the late 80’s and we were visiting my grandparents in Auckland, Mum must have been feeling generous because she let me buy a comic from the dairy (read: milkbar, cornerstore, newsagent or whatever your culture calls the wee shop where you buy milk, bread and on a good day comic books). The idea of a massive dude in a helmet flying around New York with a huge hammer unsurprisingly went down well with 8 year old Joe from country New Zealand. The comic I picked up was fun and left me with an enduring affection for the guy.
But for some reason he never became a favourite. A few things just seemed off, why did he need to bang his walking stick to become Thor? Why was he spending so much time fluffing around some hospital? Hell, why wasn’t he just Thor all the time?
This is the Thor book that gets everything right. It has just the right mix of fighting, carousing, impressing women and meeting other heroes like Namor, Iron Man, Giant-Man & the Wasp. The relationship between Thor and Jane Foster drives the story along and it’s genuine heart is endearing. Their two viewpoints give us a ‘fish out of water’ character on both Earth and Asgard that lets Langridge weave exposition seamlessly throughout the tale. Plus Thor is always Thor, he might not remember that for a minute but he doesn’t become a scrawny doctor. The only downside is he never reaches his true potential by becoming Bearded Thor (beards are always better and one day I will get around to writing that post featuring the best beards in comics).
It does a great job of tying things into the mythos of the recent Thor and Avengers movies, which to those unversed in the depths of Marvel Lore differs in some key points from the comics. In the films the Asgardians aren’t Gods as such, rather powerful humanoids from another world that have visited Earth in the past, leading to our legends, (Marvel are cautious about the ‘god’ label, in the recent Avengers cartoon Thor is referred to as the ‘Prince’ of Thunder).
The characterization of Thor is just so fun in this comic, it’s not the ponderous melodrama of some previous incarnations but it still has weight to it. Writer Roger Langridge is a great cartoonist in his own right, and gels beautifully well with Samnee.
The book serves as an introduction to the character without getting bogged down in years of continuity. I really enjoyed how the characters were handled and Namor in particular was excellent. Thor shows real character development and humanity while keeping the raucous side to his personality. He still likes a scrap and a night out with the Warriors Three leads into a senseless but fun bar brawl with Captain Britain.
Artist Chris Samnee won great aclaim with this book and has since gone on to greater heights in the current run on Daredevil (written by Mark Waid and to be featured this very month on JoeBlogsComics). His art is delightful, with a lighthearted feel that belies it’s complexity. It feels like he draws his characters smiling more than most artists and it permeates the work to make it feel happier.
This comic left me with a smile on my face which is a reaction that is all too rare. It’s also an all ages book but doesn’t feel like it’s written for kids (not that there is anything wrong with that but when I was eight I was quite sure I was ready for the hard stuff), its Tintin not Disney.
Should I buy it? Hell yeah, this is one to buy and buy for others. It’s rare I can recommend a book like this to just about comic reader of any age. Comics, they can still be for kids.
Next time: I’m keeping it Marvel for March and reviewing what might be the best comic being produced today, the exception to the rule that is Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon by the powerhouse team of Fraction, Aja and Pulido. Not many books make me rethink my trade only stance, this one that does. It’s purple and it’s awesome.