Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pull List Review: Thor: God of Thunder #1

First of all, this is a beautiful book. Esad Ribic does an impressive job of displaying the grandiosity of the story in relatively small spaces. There are a few full-page splashes, it's true, but when Thor makes his way through the emptied city of the lost gods of Indigog, for example, Ribic makes the vast size and scale of the place obvious without needing to zoom out too far. He also makes the title character quite an impressive and powerful figure, in all three eras we see. Young Thor's exaggerated cockiness, modern Thor's skilled might, and old man Thor's enormous power are all clear and consistent, and they come together to paint a picture of a character who, no matter his age or experience, has always had incredible strength of one kind or another. They're distinct men, these three Thors, but what connects them is an obvious confidence in their own abilities that Ribic boldly underlines.
     I am not always a fan of Ribic's facial expressions, but here his somewhat oversized eyes and gaping mouths actually worked for me, particularly when it came to the slain gods. Seeing the tremendous pain and horror in the faces of the dead immortals was important, especially since that's really all we know about the apparent villain of this story---he can fuck up gods but good. Dean White's soft, rich colors do more to add to the art than detract, even though there were moments, particularly in the final scene, where I thought something a bit harsher or brighter might have been more fitting. But overall I like the Ribic-White combination, for a Thor title most of all, because the art feels epic in the same way as the story. The settings are so alive and detailed and the colors are so deep that there's a certain sense of reality brought to this book about a god. The murders are given more heft because of it, and the entire story is given more life.
     Unfortunately, as much as the art helped out, Jason Aaron's story wasn't all that gripping. It's not a bad idea, it's just not one which felt very interesting. Basically, so far, it's just like any number of other serial killer mysteries where the cop has a long history with the murderer, except that in this case the killer targets gods. If the revelation of the existence of these gods were part of the story, we might have something, but this is the Marvel U, where more and more gods pop up all the time. Aaron seems to be saving the actual reveal of this butcher of gods for a later issue, which is fine, but it's hard to get excited about a villain you haven't met, no matter how immensely powerful you understand him to be.
     I do like the Thor through time aspect of the book, if only because each of the three Thors won me over individually. It's a good script, actually, even if the narrative doesn't wow me. The dialogue was solid, giving each Thor a unique voice without any of them sounding forced or off. As was the pacing, with a brief young Thor in the beginning, an even briefer old Thor at the end, and the long stretch of current Thor in the middle. Current Thor is, after all, the one we're bound to be most interested in (even though, personally, I think young Thor seems way more fun) and is presumably the character around whom the main thrust of the story will be built. So while Aaron gives us a decent chunk of time with each, it is this primary Thor we see the most, and who has the most to say and do. Good choices all around, and they, like the art, gave the story some life it would otherwise have lacked.
     I'm not deeply hooked yet, but I have no massive complaints. Thor: God of Thunder is off to a solid enough start, and with as strong a creative team as it has, my hopes are high that by the time this narrative wraps up, we'll have a much more dynamic and fascinating ending.

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