Comic Shots #4 with Chris Neseman: The Godfather and ‘Thor’

August 7, 2008

Each week Chris Neseman drops by to pass along a tasty drink recipe and an even tastier comic book recommendation. The cocktail and the comic can both be enjoyed independently, but they have a common theme and when served together they can make for the perfect reading experience.


I’m writing this week’s article in the dark with a flashlight by my side. Seriously. Chicago was hit by terrible summer storms this week, and there are still over 200,000 people without power. Me being one of the 200,000. Which brings me to my much needed drink recommendation. In times like these you just need a drink made with alcohol and alcohol. You know, just to take the edge off while you sit in the dark and sweat. Did I mention it’s also really freaking hot in Chicago right now? Well anyway, I found this particular drink when I lived in Iowa back in the 90s. Iowa wasn’t the best place in the world for a just out of college twenty something, but a couple good things did happen to me while I lived there. I met some fantastic people, learned the true value of a pork belly and discovered an old school Italian after dinner drink called a Godfather. As I recall, I was putting my degree to good use as a waiter at the Okoboji Grill in Ames, the home of Iowa State. After a long day of serving deep fried food to farmers and fraternities, I was trying to drown my sorrows in some terrible 3.2 beer to no avail. As I was looking at the rows of liquor trying to find something to do the trick, one of the line cooks (still the best source for heavy hitting drinks) sat down after his shift and ordered up a Godfather. The bartender/education major had a puzzled look because it didn’t involve a twist off cap or the saying “lick it, slam it, suck it” in it’s preparation. The cook explained that it was a simple drink of Scotch and Amaretto on the rocks. My interest was peaked, and I asked the bartender/education major to make it two. After the complex mathematical equation of doubling the order was finished, I was treated to one of the tastiest ways to forget my own name that I had ever come across. 

So, if you need a small escape from reality or a new after dinner drink with some legs to it, may I suggest:

The Godfather
• 1 1/2 oz Scotch
• 1/2 oz Amaretto

Use an old fashioned glass or a rocks glass. Fill the glass with ice and pour the Scotch in first. Top the drink off with the heavier Amaretto and serve. Nothing fancy, nothing hidden, just a good Scotch drink with some nice almond flavors to sweeten things up. Sip this one slow and enjoy a break from the dark, non-airconditioned world. Kick off your shoes, turn on your flashlight and complete your escape by checking out another God…


Publisher: Marvel
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciller: Olivier Coipel
Inker: Mark Morales
Colorist: Laura Martin
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos

The flashlight became a source of inspiration for picking Thor this week. I was reading comics with my flashlight (yeah, I’m that big of a dork) and it reminded me of how I did the same thing over twenty years ago as a kid. At that time I was trying not to let my parents know I was up past bedtime reading those damn funny books, not because I was sitting in a dark house during a blackout. Whatever the reasons, there’s something fun about reading a comic that way. Back in my youth, one of my favorite comics to read by maglite was Walt Simonson‘s Thor. Walt Simonson was, is and will always be the first creator I think of when it comes to Marvel’s Norse God of Thunder. His version of Thor defined the character for a generation and made Asgard a favorite destination for my 12 year old imagination. Thor is one of the few heroes in the Marvel Universe that operates on a heavy power scale. In the pre-Sentry days of Marvel, Thor was the big hitter that could be called in to knock the beejesus out of the bad guys. Based on pure power, he was the closest thing Marvel fans had to a Superman. He was the one who made The Avengers the mightiest team on the planet, and was the one guy you wanted to see deliver the knockout punch. What made Simonson’s version of Thor so entertaining was his exploration of the Asgardian supporting cast and showcasing Thor as a God among other Gods. In addition to the stories and world building that Simonson created, his artwork is still some of the most beautiful to ever grace the pages of a comic. There was so much about the 1980s Thor that I loved that it’s hard to mention it all. I believe Thor should always have a beard, I still laugh when I think about Frog Thor, and who can forget the fantastic Ballad of Beta Ray Bill epic. That’s a flashlight classic!

As you can guess, I have very fond memories of Thor. Unfortunately, when Simonson left the title, so did I. Thor became a C-list character for me and I lost my love for Marvel’s Asgardian mythology. Fast forward to today, and J Michael Straczynski has done something with Thor that I didn’t think was possible. He made me care. There’s no question that Thor can be a difficult character to write. Untangling years of continuity and making the character approachable for new or returning readers has been no small feat. The current series is a perfect example of how burning the house down can be the best way to start rebuilding it. The relaunch has done two very important things. First of all it has wiped the slate clean and created a perfect jumping on point. Issue one of this third volume is a true #1. What continuity you need to know is quickly laid out and easy to understand. Thor is dead as are all of the Gods of Asgard. Pretty simple, and as good a place as any to start. This is a well crafted reincarnation for the Norse God, as well as the return of Donald Blake, and their quest to recreate the glory and wonder of Asgard. It’s a great way to reintroduce all of the key players, yet stay true to what has come before. The second great innovation of Straczynski’s story is how he has connected Asgard to our own world. In the past there were two basic stories for Thor. He would either be fighting threats here on Earth, or those in Asgard. It was the politics of Asgard and Thor’s place in it’s culture that made many of the stories memorable. Now we can quite literally have the best of both worlds, because In this series, a new Asgard has been established right here on Earth, and in Oklahoma of all places. Dropping a mythical city in the heart of America has created some interesting and often hilarious interactions between the residents of a small Oklahoma town and the Norse Gods. What’s not to like about seeing Volstag at a town meeting! Straczynski has used Asgard’s new setting as a way to talk about the real world and the insanity of how we deal with both natural and social disasters. The political statements are never over the top, and they serve the story as Thor travels the planet in search of his fallen brothers and sisters. In all, the relaunch has been full of adventure, humor and thought provoking statements.

Thor is also a stunning book to look at. The art team of Coipel, Morales, Martin and Eliopoulos capture the grandeur of Asgard and it’s godly inhabitants. Norse Gods need to look majestic and larger than life, and that is more than accomplished here. Thor and his brethren are fully realized as hulking Viking Gods as they explore their new earthly home. The stark contrast between the Okies and the Norsemen is striking as you see the awe created by their size and obvious  power. I know I would be a little freaked if I was standing next to a 7 ft. tall, 350 lb. man covered in animal skins wielding a battle axe. That happened to me once at a comic book convention, but I digress. The whole look and feel of Thor is big, bold and classic. Coipel’s style and Martin’s colors work great together, and I often feel like I’m watching paintings come to life. Throw in some great “Brakka-Dooooom!” sound effects and artful lettering courtesy of Chris Eliopoulos and you have a pretty stunning package to gaze at.

So there you go. I better wrap this up before my batteries run out and I’m left to stumble around in the dark. I hope you try out the Godfather and impress your friends the next time you order one after a good hearty meal. I also hope you give Thor a chance if you haven’t read it in a while. I’m thankful that Marvel has been able to breath some life into a once proud franchise and get one of their cornerstone characters back in the game. Life is better when Thor is worth reading, whether you do so with a flashlight or not is your choice. The first trade of the new series is available now, so run out and grab a copy if you think it’s something you’ll enjoy. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you back next week for another round of Comic Shots.


Chris Neseman is the host of The Around Comics Podcast and a co-host of the 11 O’Clock Comics podcast. You can contact him at and suggest a cocktail or comic of your own, because good drinks and good comics should be shared.

Please obey the law and only drink if you are of age. Drink responsibly and never drink and drive. Buy only the amount of comics that you can till your wife or significant other threatens to throw things away.



  1. Thor is one of my favorite books right now, largely due to Eliopoulos’s lettering.  Good call giving him praise.

  2. Hah!  That’s awesome!  I found myself reading a comic by flashlight again recently as well, backstage at my show between scenes I hunkered down with the latest issue of Wolverine and a mag-light.  I wanted to get it read so’s I could get in on the POW talk. Which I’m avoiding again right now having not read Final Crisis 3 yet.

  3. As someone who had never read a Thor comic before JMS’s series (and who had barely read a handful of his appearances in the Avengers books), I can verify that this series is fantastic for new readers.  I’ve never once felt lost in the continuity, and all of the supporting characters have seemed fully-realized and very interesting, even though I’ve never met them before.

    I hope you’ve gotten your power back!

  4. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this Thor book.  I may be inclined to pick it up the next time I have some loose cash.  As for this drink, it’s being made tonight.  It sounds yum in my tum.

  5. If you folks have a chance, click on the link about the storms. It was some batshit crazy weather.

    btw, does anyone actually click through any of the links in the column? Just curious.

  6. I saw some footage of the baseball game, crazy scary stuff. (and yes I do click links, but don’t go rickrolling me now).

  7. More of a Rusty Nail man my self. But I have enjoyed the mind numbing quality of a Godfather.  When ever i hear the words "rainbow bridge" I have to drink.

    I check the links.

  8. Don’t know a darn thing about this, couldn’t care less about Thor, who has always been REALLY boring to me, but after seeing that panel of Thor in front of a castle in the clouds….


    Thank you Mister Neseman.

    P.S.  Ever drink the icelandic schnapps called Brennevin?  Try it next time you read Thor. It’s awful. So bad you’ll like it. But the icelanders are the descendants of Vikings, so it is somehow appropriate. 

  9. I love these refreshing beverages!!!

    Except the ones I drink are called "Hillbilly Godfather"s. (Just substitute Jack Daniels for the Scotch.)

  10. I had a tornado go right over my neighborhood from the same storm. I had a 20 foot long branch land on my house

  11. The Hillbilly Godfather sounds awesome!

    @BatStewie, I’m really glad you’re gonna check it out. Thor is good comics right now.

    @ Everyone else, don’t be afraid to e-mail me some suggestions on stuff for me to check out and then write about. I want this to be an interactive column.



  12. This does sound interesting, but I still haven’t grabbed any Locke and Key yet.  I’m way behind on all your recommendations, maybe at the upcoming con in Toronto I can get a bunch of stuff at great discounts.

    Another excellent article, Chris.