Thor Corps: A Rundown of the 6 Different ‘Thor’ Comics on the Shelves
Thor has a movie coming out next year, and Marvel's begun the onslaught of Thor comics now to get ready to sell trade paperbacks down the line. It's a wise choice on their part, but a little confusing for consumers who just want a little Asgardian action on their pull list. Where do you start? What's going on in all of the series? And more importantly, are any of them any good?
You're in luck, hypothetical reader. After the jump, we run down the creative team, details, and quality of the six (six!) series Thor is currently starring in. Don't know where to start with Asgard's favorite son? We've got your back.
Matt Fraction, Pasqual Ferry, Matt Hollingsworth
Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry are heading up Marvel's flagship Thor comic, the simply named Thor, and it may be the best-looking Thor comic on the stands. In their first issue, they set up an interesting plot. Asgard has been located on Earth, or Midgard, for some time now, but Asgard isn't just a city. It's one of the nine realms of the cosmos. Since Asgard has vacated its position in the cosmos, what's going to fill that spot? How will its absence affect the rest of the cosmos?
Complicating matters is the arrival of an alien menace that is laying waste to more of the realms. These red-skinned beings talk strange (in black word balloons that contain star systems or spirals) and aren't afraid to simply murder anyone who stands in their way. They're working their way around the cosmos, and a conflict between Thor and these new beings is inevitable. This book is working with that funky mix of sci-fi and altered mythology that makes Thor such an interesting franchise, and it's going all-in on both halves.
The only problem so far is the pace. The first issue was a good start, and Ferry's art was beautiful. The second issue... was essentially a recap of the first issue, with only the last couple of pages having real forward motion. It was a disappointing follow-up to a strong start, but is something that may read better once the Fraction/Ferry run is collected.
Jonathan Hickman, Carlos Pacheco, Dexter Vines, Edgar Delgado
Hickman and Pacheco's Ultimate Thor is perhaps most notable because it is Marvel's first series to go day and date with digital comics releases. One-shots have previously appeared in print and online simultaneously, but a series is a big deal.
Content-wise, thus far, Ultimate Thor is... okay. It's flip-flopping between the modern day and World War II as the story builds. Ragnarok is lurking in the background, the Norn stones figure majorly in the story, we see Ultimate Asgard, and meet the Ultimate Warriors Three: Thor, Loki, and Balder the Brave. There are even Nazi Frost Giants, which is just one of those ideas that makes comics fun. The series has had a slow start, but Hickman's intricate plotting tends to pay off in the long run, and it seems like this is a good book for Pacheco to really cut loose on.
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, Scot Eaton, Jaime Mendoza, Veronica Gandini
DnA are the team who have shepherded Marvel's cosmic line over the past few years, and they did an admirable job doing it. Iron Man/Thor is their go at two of Marvel's heavy hitters, and it looks like they're bringing some of the magic they demonstrated in space to Earth. DnA are skilled at including obscure concepts without getting bogged down in exposition or continuity, in addition to strong characterization, a good sense of humor, and a willingness to really cut loose with the violence.
Judging by their first issue, which was ably drawn by Scot Eaton, they're bringing the whole toolbox to bear on Iron Man/Thor. There's good comedy, this time featuring Volstagg. The relationship between Iron Man and Thor, and later, Iron Man and Steve Rogers, is instantly crystal clear. People get beaten up, Moses Magnum has a cameo, and at the end of it all, you're left wanting more.
This book is good stuff, which is completely unsurprising, given its pedigree. It clearly takes place post-Siege and during the Heroic Age, but none of that really matters. You can pick it up and tell exactly what's going on, and any other knowledge you have is just icing on the cake.
4. THOR: FOR ASGARD (6 Issues)
Robert Rodi, Simone Bianchi, Simone Peruzzi
Robert Rodi wrote one of the best Thor stories in years with 2004's Loki, and Marvel brought him back specifically to bring some of that magic back to the franchise.
Judging by the first few issues of For Asgard, that was a wise choice. Rodi's script isn't exactly action-packed, instead focusing on relationships, mood, and mysteries, but it has that same cerebral feel as Loki. While Thor doesn't do a lot of smashing with Mjolnir (or any! There is a mystery afoot...), it's still a good read.
Simone Bianchi's art is fairly appropriate for the series. His take on Asgard is a sublime mix of sci-fi style and heavy metal album covers, so you get body piercings, breastplates with glowing contours, and giant battle axes pitted against space-age laser guns. There's a little bit of a disconnect between the writing and the art, but Bianchi can draw moody people like nobody's business, which fits well with Rodi's script.
5. THOR: FIRST THUNDER (5 Issues)
Bryan JL Glass, Tan Eng Huat, Jose Villarubia
Glass and Huat are telling the story of Thor's introduction to the Marvel Universe. The series has so far retold and expanded upon Thor's first appearance, Ultimate Marvel-style. We get a crash course in the relationship between Donald Blake and Thor, learn that Thor has been banished from Asgard. This will be nothing new to longtime Marvel fans, but serves as a solid primer for newbies.
This is the weakest of the current slate of Thor books. The stories aren't particularly compelling and feel more like continuity clean-up rather than something fresh and new. Huat's art is usually lively and expressive, but just feels out of place and awkward here. While it's a worthy try, it may not be your best choice for a quick hit of Thor.
6. THOR: THE MIGHTY AVENGER (Ongoing)
Roger Langridge, Chris Samnee, Matthew Wilson
Holy crap, where did this book come from?
Roger Langridge has been doing fantastic work over on Boom! Studios's The Muppet Show, but his work on this book has been revelatory. This series fills a similar function as Thor: First Thunder, but does it in a very fresh and exciting way. Langridge takes Thor's early days on Earth and readjusts them for the modern day. Jane Foster works at a museum, Thor isn't quite sure why he's on Earth, and the Marvel Universe is in its infancy. We get to see Thor interacting with some classic, and occasionally seldom seen, Marvel characters, learning his way around our world, and working out his feelings for Jane Foster.
Chris Samnee's art is similarly revelatory. He was good, but now he's great. You can take a look at the many faces of Thor above, courtesy of blogger taterpie, to see a large part of the appeal of the series. Samnee is an extraordinarily talented artist and Wilson's colors perfectly complement his work. Together, they're a powerhouse artistic team doing Olympic-class work.
For my money, this is the Thor book to get. It's light, well written, well drawn, and exciting. It's pretty much exactly what a Thor comic should be, and nonetheless manages to do it in a fresh way.