The Mighty Thor 1
Martin Skidmore — 29-Apr-11
Obviously there has been a proliferation of Thor titles lately – we’re getting a bunch of collections of recent mini-series, we’ve just had a fifth Essential volume, and so on, but Marvel must be hoping that a new Thor title out now will really hit big.
I’ve been moaning for decades that I believe Marvel’s and DC’s convoluted plotting will deter new readers, and I believe that this is part of why their sales are so low now. It’s a rare title now where you don’t have to read say half a dozen issues over six months to get a whole story; and pretty often that story will only give full value to someone who has read the right comics before it, and that list can be a long one; and that’s without considering the crossovers, which might sound exciting, but will demand an awful lot of commitment and money to follow in full. If I were in charge, I’d want the new Thor title coinciding with the movie release to be very accessible to people who haven’t read 500 previous Thor comics, people who are new to the character from the film, and certainly I wouldn’t want them to have any familiarity with anything beyond the basic Thor mythos. I am writing this paragraph before reading the comic, because I have a feeling it may be part of what I see as the problem, rather than making the most of a particularly strong opportunity to attract fresh readers.
I think my fears were right. We start here with scenes in Broxton, the Oklahoma city near which Asgard was until recently based, listening to a preacher talk about God in a world with Norse gods living next door, which strikes me as interesting background material but in no way central to launching a new comic; and with scenes of the Silver Surfer and Galactus, which I couldn’t make sense of, in that the Surfer, now Galactus’s herald again apparently, seems to be completely unfamiliar with Earth. Finally we get to Thor, eight pages in, but he’s in what looks like a spacesuit for a trip to the base of the world-tree to retrieve a seed from it, for some unclear reason something to do with Asgard’s links to other realms. He and Sif fight some big bug creatures down there, and then the new, child-age Loki shows up to help out and they come back up. We don’t get Thor in costume at all, though we do get him naked in bed with Sif, which makes me think that Marvel are explicitly not looking to hook new young readers here – the rating is apparently T+, whatever that means: older teens?
The scripting tends towards the abstract, the cosmically poetic. This is reasonably well done, and there are suggestions that the wound Thor receives from the big bugs will be significant, and I presume the seed they brought back will be important, plus it ends with the Surfer reaching Earth, so there is plenty of promise of big storylines coming, but none of them have really got going at this point at all, so as a first issue it lacks thrills.
This isn’t helped by the art, since the action is mostly depicted in cluttered, cramped compositions making it all but impossible to derive any flow of action, even on careful study. A fight with big bugs, however mystical, is hardly inspiring in the first place, but not being able to read it as a sequence of combat actions deadens it totally. He’s much better on character – I liked several of the faces, which put me in mind of some cross between Walt Simonson and Michael Golden at times. There are quite a few attractive and strong panels, but I think Coipel needs some major help in making them flow.
Ignoring my feeling of missed opportunity, this is a very decent comic, often nice to look at, scripted with some style and introducing some elements with promise, even if I don’t understand what the cover and last page suggest is the main plot, the Galactus one – and if I were Galactus, I think by now I would have learnt to steer clear of Earth. Still, this might well become a good comic, though I can’t see it hooking lots of new fans excited by the movie.