THIS REVIEW OF ‘THOR’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.
By Molly Jane Kremer. It feels like every Marvel comic is relaunching this month, doesn’t it? Or at least all the big guns with multi-film franchises tied to their lead characters. And though Marvel’s publishing schedule and practices can leave much to be desired in this reader/retailer’s heart — like releasing proverbial gluts of expensive new #1’s within a six-week span? — the actual content of said comics is still, well, real good. (Let’s be honest, their overall quality mostly outstrips that of the Distinguished Competition. ((Shots fired. — Ed.))) The newest Thor #1 is no exception — whether you’re sick of these relaunches or not, this is some got-dang great comics here, and yet another Aaron-penned example of how to perfectly structure a first issue.
This is the sixth time Mr. Aaron has written a Thor debut, though miscellaneous adjectives, pluralities, and subtitles have varied. And despite this being in the midst of a six-years-and-counting run on the character(s), Thor #1 remains incredibly new reader-friendly while somehow avoiding retreads for those of us already caught up.
Life has not been going well for Thor Odinson of late, or for his people. The Mangog has destroyed Asgard — many of their deadliest weapons strewn across the world in the process — and the creature’s defeat was only possible by throwing him, along with Mjolnir, into the sun. The War of Realms still rages. Odinson resumes the mantle of Thor once more, and the dwarves of Nidavellir have been trying in vain to fill the hammer-shaped hole in his mighty heart. Thor attempts to recover all of Asgard’s lost weapons and artifacts, until he is waylaid by that treacherous little brother of his, with different ideas on how Thor should be spending his time.
Aaron’s Thor series’ have been telling one continuous story, and this issue touches on characters from throughout his six-year run. Members of the League of Realms (introduced years ago at this point) continue to play integral parts, and there’s even a short story at the end featuring King Thor of the far-flung future and his delightful granddaughters (more on that later). The changes many series regulars have gone through are tangible in their actions here, with character development both subtle and straightforward. Instead of the shitty, bloviating mess Odin was during Jane Foster’s tenure with Mjolnir, the events of “The Death of the Mighty Thor” have humbled the All-Father, leaving him regretful and contemplative.
Everyone has been affected by the destruction of Asgard. Thor himself has become more self-reflective, and as a result his internal narration drives the story. It’s a less confident Odinson certainly (especially as we watch him react to hammer after hammer shattering in his hands) but a determined one; he’s still a god, he’s just gotta work a helluva lot harder at it. And, stubborn deity that he is, he does just that. It’s a situation that worked well for his cinematic twin in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, and it works well here.
Artist Mike Del Mundo has worked with Jason Aaron previously on the criminally underrated Secret Wars: Weirdworld miniseries, and most recently finished an Avengers run with Mark Waid. He has art duties for the first thirty pages are a drastic change from the work of Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson. While I do miss the sharp and pristine cinematics from that glorious duo, Del Mundo is a worthy successor; his bold-yet-hazy chaos in the opening action sequence helps give this book the distance from The Mighty Thor it needs to truly stand alone.
During that intro Del Mundo’s art becomes busy and frenetic very quickly, with shocking neon and lime greens suffusing the battle (color assists were by Marco D’Alfonso). Odinson’s lightning is now a white-greeny-gold, an interesting counter to Jane’s previous bolts of blue-white. The action is thrilling and energetic — it’s visual bedlam as Thor fights cannibal Cyttorak monks and the Juggernaut. The lettering by VC’s Joe Sabino stands out, with sfx integrated excellently into the page layout and color palette (some of which looks to have been drawn in by Del Mundo as well). Blood spattered stars flutter around KO-ed characters with a Mahfood-like irreverence, but when the story calls for it, Del Mundo later calms the seas with more traditional layouts and softer palettes.
The last ten pages are, as mentioned previously, a story about King Thor and his granddaughters, with art by the phenomenal Christian Ward, fresh off a stellar run on Black Bolt with Saladin Ahmed. Ward’s prismatic hues and psychedelic sensibilities are the perfect vessel for a cosmic Thor story set “untold eons from now”. Somehow Ward gets better and better with each new series he works on: He deftly illustrates space shark combat amidst stars and nebulae and an old woman’s emotional candlelit heart-to-heart with equal aplomb. The last couple pages show off his spectacularly kaleidoscopic color signature, though the contents of the final splash page are a bit more perplexing than shocking.
Though this is, as mentioned, the sixth Thor #1 Aaron has penned, he recently stated on twitter that it’s “also likely the last, as we begin the third and final act of my run.” Though that statement breaks my heart, I know that if these last spectacular six years of thunder gods and goddesses have merely been the first two acts of this stirring, enlightening, titanic saga, we’re in for an uru-shattering conclusion, with nothing less than a raucous, refreshing first issue to kick it off.
Written by Jason Aaron.
Art by Mike Del Mundo and Christian Ward.
Color assists by Marco D’Alfonso.
Letters and production by VC’s Joe Sabino.
8.5 out of 10