Pick of the Week
What did the
Art by Esad Ribic
Colors by Dean White
Cover by Esad Ribic, Skottie Young, Daniel Acuna, & Joe Quesada
Size: 32 pages
“My god, what a beautiful book.”
That sentiment pretty much sums up how I feel about Thor: God of Thunder #1 by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic. I really don’t know if I’m going to be able to write more than that for this Pick of the Week review. I mean, don’t worry, I’m going to try. But for those of you who want to cut to the chase, it’s pretty much going to be various and different ways of repeating that sentiment because really people, this is a beautiful book. And when I say it’s a beautiful book, I mean it in every sense of the word and every possible meaning–from the words to the art. It’s all so beautiful.
When picking up Thor: God of Thunder #1, the most glaring and obvious point of beauty lies within the physical manifestation of the book itself. This may be the combined work of artist Esad Ribic and colorist Dean White’s finest hour. Over the past couple of years as we’ve been exposed to more and more of Ribic’s work, I’ve come to respect the subtle ability of his art. First on Uncanny X-Force and then followed by his work on Ultimate Comics: The Ultimates, Ribic has shown to have the makings of a modern master. Elegant storytelling combined with unique characters, a Ribic comic was one that you had to take the time to absorb as you flipped through the pages. But now with Thor: God of Thunder #1, it’s almost as if Ribic has heeded the call of the gods and delivered work that can only be described as breathtaking.
I’ve literally spent the majority of my day staring at the pages, just getting lost in them and I’m reminded of what it was like when I was in middle school and first exposed to the fantasy artwork of Frank Frazetta and other Frazetta wanna-bes via the various Dungeons & Dragons books and posters. Now, I’ve never been much of a fantasy fan, but there was something about these pieces of art that allowed you to get completely immersed and lost in them. I’m reminded of that feeling as I flip through the pages of Thor: God of Thunder #1. While I wouldn’t categorize Ribic as a Frazetta clone by any stretch of the imagination, I get that same feeling of wonder I get as I read this issue. Ribic’s art, along with the fabulous color work of Dean White, brings a feeling of weight to each moment. You get the sense of the heft of the weapons, like an axe or hammer, just by seeing the flex of a muscle of its holder. Even for the various scenes of Thor in space, weightless, you’re almost there as Thor’s cape gathers behind him. With each setting and each scene, there is a mood that carries throughout this book that gives you a feeling of real presence as you read it. It’s hard to put exactly into words but there’s a majesty and elegance to every moment of this book that almost defies description. Factor in the level of detail around facial expressions and body language of the characters and you start to see the picture of Thor come into focus and it just stops you in your tracks.
If you were to play BINGO with my reviews over the years, one of the categories with which you could win would be when in a review I justify picking something despite my previous negative opinions of the character. This is absolutely one of those cases. I’ve never been anything more than a casual Thor fan. Barely a casual fan, if that. So going into reading this issue, I figured I’d give it a shot and if anything I could marvel at the fine work of Ribic and White. But then it happened again. Jason Aaron comes in and shows why he is one of the top writers in the business. Throughout the Mighty Marvel PR rollout we heard much about this series. We even spoke to Jason Aaron at the New York Comic Con where he told us of the three ages of Thor that would be shown in this book. Young Thor, Thor of the present day, and old Thor. I wondered how they would be able to balance three distinct storylines and ultimately, how that all would work. Well, I haven’t gotten my answer yet on that as this is just the first issue, but the structure sure got my attention.
This introductory issue got two very specific things right in my mind. First, Aaron perfectly balances the introduction of the three distinct timelines of Thor. Initially, we’re introduced to a young Thor, pre-Mjolnir. In just 5 pages we get a sense of who this young Thor is and the world he’s in, as well as getting just the right amount of a glimpse of the villainous threat. Next, the meatier portion of the book, focuses on present day Thor, the one we’re most familiar with and the one easy to relate to. Through this we get even more advancement of the plot of the villainous threat. And then finally we get just a glimpse of old Thor, which left me wondering how his story got to that point. By the end of this book, I was immediately drawn to want to know what happens on every timeline. The second thing it got right was that it’s completely disconnected from Thor the “superhero” and the Marvel Universe and all the previous stories and lingering characters that came before it. Not that there is anything wrong with the past work of Thor in recent publishing history, but a clean start is exactly what’s needed for someone like me. And combine that with a more fantasy laden/gods focused story? All the better. It’s just Thor and this mysterious threat of a God killer and I can’t wait for more.
While I’ve never been a Thor fan in the comics, I really enjoyed the Thor movie and while this is a completely different vibe than the movie, I find that it’s the similar aspects of Thor and his world that are being tapped into that lead me to quite like this and turn me into a Thor reader for the first time ever. Filled with swords and axes and hammers and folks drinking ale and mead, Thor: God of Thunder #1 is a fantasy filled delight that is easily one of the most beautiful books on the racks.
“Bring me my arm!”