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September 8, 2010

Thor the Romantic, and Why He’s Needed

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After witnessing multiple characters across different comics die in increasingly gruesome ways, I’ve started to become a fan of more light-hearted titles. I don’t know if it’s the lack of fear that the characters I’ve become attached to are going to bite the bullet at any given second, or the return to simpler times, where storytelling and character development have higher value than shock. Maybe I just like Thor being oblivious to a single lady’s affections like in Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Maybe that’s just the romantic in me.

I picked up this title with its first issue because, though I know the Thor mythos pretty well, I’m always up for a refresher. With the film coming out in the near future, Marvel’s choice to put out a new, somewhat casual title to introduce readers to the character is a good one. At 614 issues and counting (as of this Wednesday), Thor has a lot of history behind him.

Unlike previous film giants like Batman or Spider-Man, Thor takes a bit of explaining: he does not have an easily-explainable back story, or a film-friendly reason why he was sent to Earth. The film will (likely) feature portions devoted to his time before his trip to Earth, but sometimes it isn’t as simple as “He’s on Earth because he fought with his Dad.”

Thor’s strength as a character comes from the diversity of his cast. Loki, the Warriors Three, Baldur, Odin, Beta-Ray Bill, and others all need fleshing out to make the Thor universe have life; without them, you have a god in a human guise. Unlike Spider-Man, Donald Blake doesn’t really do much when he isn’t swinging the hammer, so his support doesn’t come from that identity; instead, the majority of Thor’s adventuring comes when he is big, strong, and wing-helmed.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger introduces us to Jane, a curator of Bergen War Memorial Museum’s Norse mythology wing (naturally!). She discovers Thor trying to break into the exhibit to get his hammer back, which is encased in an urn. Though dismissing him as a drunk initially, she comes to find he is actually the Norse god of thunder; he then saves her from a rampaging Mr. Hyde, and proceeds to shack up at her place while he tries to find his way back to Asgard.

What follows is something different from what we usually see in Thor comics. Instead of sweeping Asgardian vistas and horned helmets everywhere, we see Thor wolfing down a hoagie and being confused at telephones. When rendered by Chris Samnee’s art, these slice-of-life portions are downright precious; coupled with Jane’s (implied) attraction to Thor, I would go so far as to describe it as cute. When Hank Pym and Janet Dyne appear in the third issue, the story closes with Pym and Janet musing that they’re crazy about each other, but don’t even know it yet.

This takes place for a reason.

It’s obvious to see that Jane is an analogue to the new Thor reader. They might have an understanding of who Thor is, historically, but not the specific brand of Thor that Marvel puts out. Eventually, we (through her) learn that he isn’t just a brutish oaf that hits things. He has a caring, sensitive side, and while he might be a little stubborn sometimes, he just wants to find his way home. We learn that his brother Loki is a trickster, and are introduced to one of his other major villains, Mr. Hyde. The seeds of further team-ups are planted when Stark Industries is mentioned on the television.

Slowly but surely, we’re introduced to the flow of things; with its heartwarming characters, awesome action and amazing pin-up throwbacks, Thor: The Mighty Avenger is a winner. I’ll be picking issue four up today, and I implore you to do the same.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger is written by Roger Landgridge and drawn by Chris Samnee. It comes out monthly from Marvel comics.

Matt Demers
contact@comicattack.net

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4 Comments


  1. Kristin

    Sounds cute. Art actually makes him look like he’s young enough to be someone’s son.



  2. […] has two of my columns up so far, which are about Thor: The Mighty Avenger and Kenk: A Graphic Portait. As usual, you can find my other column on Nerd Girl Pinups here, which […]


  3. David Scholes

    As a Thor fan since the original JIM of August 1962 I am really enjoying all the Thor comics coming out in the lead up to the Thor 2011 movie.

    However this Langridge/Samnee version is just a bit too young for my tastes. Though, as always, I like Samnee’s art work.

    As an Aussie science fiction writer I’ve been a Marvel Thor fan since the original Journey into Mystery of August 1962.

    If you get a chance check out some of my Marvel (mainly Thor) fan fiction. Just scroll down below my author profile and you will see over 40 fan fiction stories here:

    http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1276881/David_Scholes

    Maybe also check out my new sci-fi novella. Recently released as an e-book on Xlibris and also now available in Kindle edition on Amazon:

    http://www.xlibris.com/SoldieroftheBrell.html

    Cheers


  4. Billy

    Great stuff Matt. I’m a huge Thor fan and will definitely pick this up.



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