Friday, April 08, 2011

Review: Thor – The Mighty Avenger vol 1

What happens when a museum curator whose professional life seems to be on the rise while her private life hits the rocks, finds the Norse God Thor is real and in need of her help?

What you get is a modern origin of Thor, told with a very old-school art sensibility. This is a very approachable series for anyone looking to get a little history on Thor before seeing the movie (or afterwards). You don’t need to be deeply steeped in Marvel lore in order to be able to read this, it’s very self-contained and the reader will learn everything they need to know about any characters introduced within.

The artwork inside matches the cover, a wonderful throw-back to an older style, while still providing the kind of impact that comics do today. There’s a nice bit of humor, as Thor reconnects with some of his Norse buddies and goes out for a night on the town – and he gets into some unnecessary brawls, but then that’s part of the fun when dealing with a character like Thor. I liked that Captain Britain puts in an appearance (I’ve always liked his character from my long love of the Excalibur comic series), but there are also a few drawbacks.

One is that this series probably should have been treated as a miniseries from the very beginning. You can tell that they were just trying to make a new ongoing series out of this, but it’s something that was never going to last long-term. This could have been a nice “Man of Steel” type reinvention of Thor’s origin – something for new readers to read and catch up on, so that they could move on to the current stories in his regular comic series. Instead, this seems to be going for a more kid-friendly, alternate take on the character – something that didn’t really pay off as the series was ultimately cancelled with issue #8 (this book collects the first four issues).

I liked the way Thor’s origin tied in with the museum’s collection of Norse antiquities, which ultimately lead him under the care of Jane the curator. She makes for a nice counter-point to Thor’s boisterous personality, though she’s perhaps a little too easily accepting of the fact that he is in fact a Norse God and not just some homeless wacko. But ultimately, this book gave me what I was looking for – a little bit of an origin story for Thor, a character whom I’ve never really followed in Marvel comics but have become interested in due to the upcoming movie. I think it could have better served that purpose had it been planned as that all along, but it still satisfied in that regard. Mostly, reading this has made me all the more ready to both see the movie now, and to read other stories featuring Thor – to see what kinds of adventures he can really get into.

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