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Chain Reactions | Thor: God of Thunder #1

Thor: God of Thunder #1

The Marvel NOW! roll out continued this week with three titles–Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley’s Fantastic Four, All-New X-Men by Brian Bendis and Stuart Immonen, and the subject of today’s Chain Reactions, Thor: God of Thunder by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Dean White and Joe Sabino.

“It’s darker and grittier and in some ways it’s maybe the closest I’ve gotten to something like Scalped, which is the only real crime book that I’ve ever done,” Aaron told Comic Book Resources about the first issue. “Thor of course has things like gods, flying horses, and crazy new worlds in deep space. I like that we can do a crime story with those trappings. There will also be some horror and, of course, fantasy elements as well, and I think at the end of the day this is a story that stays true to what the character of Thor has always been.”

What was the reaction to their take on Thor? Here are a few reactions from around the ‘net …

Martin Gray, Too Dangerous for a Girl: “You can’t fault writer Jason Aaron for lack of ambition, when his debut on this Marvel Now! relaunch spans the ages and spaceways, and Thor himself shows several sides – warrior, big brother … even detective. There’s plenty of interest in his triptych of tales, as dark drama is leavened with humour. The changes in Thor’s narration as he moves from ebullient youth to god in his prime to elder deity are subtle, yet distinct. And the mood of foreboding is strong.”

Conor Kilpatrick, iFanboy: “Thor is tricky. I’ve always been a big fan of the character but only a sporadic fan of his books. He’s a character–quite like Wonder Woman over at DC–who I only find interesting when the proper tone is established. When the stories stray to far from the epic sword-and-sandal influenced adventures and too deeply into the often humorless machinations of the gods, I tend to lose interest. Right now, with this initial issue it seems as if Jason Aaron and company have found the right tone–a tone similar to that of the hugely successful film–one that features big action, great characterization, and twinges of humor, all set against the epic backdrop of gods and monsters.”

Joey Esposito, IGN: “In many ways, this is a strange beast. It’s a story about one character with three very different incarnations with one overarching factor: a serial killer of gods known as Gorr the God Butcher. Because of the timeline jumps, Aaron constructs a narrative that feels somewhat reserved in each of the different eras, since he’s essentially building a centuries-spanning murder mystery that, presumably, Thor has figured out for himself in throughout the years but won’t be revealed to the reader for some time yet. It creates an awkward distance from the character that conflicts with the first-person narration that serves as the backbone of this issue. It’s not that the book is bad or unenjoyable by any means, but the scope is so massive that it’s almost unwieldy on an issue-to-issue basis.”

Doug Zawisza, Comic Book Resources: “Joining Thor through all three eras is the stunning art team of Esad Ribic, Dean White and Joe Sabino. Sabino’s lettering dictates the difference between mortal and god, just in case the readers lose themselves in the drawings from Ribic with White’s coloring applied. Ribic and White a nearly indeterminable when it comes to who is responsible for how much of the image on the page. Every image, from Thor regaling the locals of Iceland to the Thunder God smiting a beast are given stunning levels of detail. When Ribic compiles a page of eight panels, it seems tight and almost overfull, but the panels themselves are lavished with detail and depth, each and every one a miniature masterpiece to be studied and enjoyed. Surely guided view for digital comic readers will enable readers to savor the panels one by one, but absorbed as pages, the imagery is magnificent to behold.”

Chris Sims, ComicAlliance: “In God of Thunder, Ribic’s switched his style up a little from the lush painting he did on Loki, which I imagine is part and parcel with doing a book every month (or however often Marvel feels like putting their books out, which I think is approaching hourly at this point). Even so, Dean White’s coloring still has the same muted palette, and it looks good. The fundamental elements of his art that I like are still there — the expression, the energy, that kinetic feel where even a shot of Thor standing in the foreground of a panel looks like he’s only a split second away from jumping into action.”

David Pepose, Newsarama: “To be honest, this book isn’t a bad one, but it is disappointing. Because this comic is so plot-centric, the hero doesn’t do much to endear himself and the villain is still off-panel and unable to really conjure up a sense of dread or tension. The time-spanning nature of Jason Aaron’s story gives us a sense of scale and grandeur, but the too-dark coloring by Dean White and off-balance art by Esad Ribic doesn’t hammer the point home. Now that the pieces are in play, let’s hope that Jason Aaron and company’s sophomore efforts are stronger, or this is Asgardian is going to be lost among the Marvel NOW! pantheon.”

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2 Comments

I really don’t agree with the comment from the Buy Pile or Newsarama that because the villain wasn’t on-panel, he wasn’t effective in generating dread and such. That’s just not true.

It’s hard to imagine more “dread-filled” fiction than Lovecraft’s work or a tenser film than Seven, yet based on those reviews, they weren’t and could only be if Lovecraft had tentacled gods floating around, chasing after the lead characters, or if Kevin Spacey had a starring role in Seven. When in fact, I’m pretty sure that all that would only make them much, much worse.

It’s amazing how much these reviews expect out of the first issue, with a writer who’s never tackled this character before. Aaron has three-versions of the same character, that are all likable. It was the characterization of Thor that really made this issue great.

Fraction completely failed at this when he was writing, and it’s a huge relief that Aaron actually understands my favorite character, so far… . I just hope he executes his high-concepts ending in epic results.

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