Tuesday, August 3, 2010
I have just read the first 12 issues of Thor and the finale, as well as Thor 600 & 601 (going along with Marvel's return to original numbering, the flipside to the constant new issue #1s). This run by J. Michael Straczynski, drawn by Olivier Coipel & Marko Djurdjevic, chronicles the return of Thor and all of Asgard from the post-Ragnarok void that the God's rested in when I guess Marvel didn't know what to do with the character (along with the Avengers) and killed them all off.
JMS does an amazing job resetting continuity while moving the series forward story-wise. Thor is called forth to protect Midgard (Earth) and is once again bonded to Dr. Donald Blake (who are two seperate conscious beings). He's got the gnarled walking staff which he uses to transform into the God of Thunder. And he's brought back into Man's world to re-create Asgard on Earth to reconnect with humanity.
Heimdall, Balder, Loki, the Warriors Three, they're all back (although Loki in female form which works to unsettle and regain trust with the Asgardians just enough to manipulate them all, and later is revealed as a plot to keep Lady Sif from Thor). Everyone is back except Odin.
Though it appears Thor is purposefully not bringing back his father, he tells himself it is so the kingdom may not repeat the cycle of Ragnarok once more. It will be a fresh start for the Asgardians. But perhaps it is because Thor truly wishes to lead, to come into his own, to surpass his father.
To that end Thor journeys via Odinsleep, into the realm that now houses Odin and Surtur, who are locked in eternally repetitious cycles of violence against each other. Here we are told a tale of Bor, Odin's father, and how in defiance of him Odin created man, who his father plagued with monsters and beasts to punish his son and his creation. Odin understands the need for the cycle to begin anew with new leadership.
This tale of Bor also sets up an interesting twist on the origin of Loki and how he came to be adopted son of Odin, the guilty poison let into the kingdom. I won't spoil it past that as it is truly one of the most clever bits in this run. It also sets up the return of Bor who is brought to NYC dis at the hands of Loki, and then beset by Thor, who ends up killing his own grandfather.
A move that allows Loki to place Balder as King (after slyly revealing the truth that Balder is half-brother to Thor), and to have Thor exiled. This brings the Asgardians into Latveria, and Doom experiments on them, and there's a big fight with Doom's own version of the Destroyer suit. It's pure comic book here.
But it also has nice moments of the Gods interacting with humans, and even sets up a heroic death for Bill Jr. (aka William the Third) who fell in love with a female winter goddess. It's pretty well done and you really do root for the character and his death is handled exceptionally well if not blunt. But these are gods here. Depowered a bit on Earth, but gods among mortals.
There's even a bit at the end which makes it so Dr. Donald Blake once again is wounded and left with a limp so he needs the cane. It's all very neatly tied up with a bow, leaving us with a well developed story, an entertaining and engaging return of the great characters from this part of Marvel, and prepares us for Siege.
A small plot hole I found was, what was Loki's plan for Sif, it almost seemed as if he were just using her to distract Thor, or perhaps just using her mortal form to regain trust? I'm not sure, but it wasn't to remove her from him forever. Ahh wait, maybe it was in hope that Thor would use all of Odin's power to drain him somehow? For on his way to save her, Mjolnir damaged from the fight with Bor, he must go to Dr. Strange to repair the hammer by removing the Odinpower from himself and imbue it into his hammer, thereby linking him to his hammer as never before. Hmmm.
Either way, it's great to have Thor back, and the scene where Thor gives Iron Man what's coming to him for the Civil War/Thor clone debacle, and the Captain America memorial, well this really helps build up the need for a return of the Avengers.