It has always been hard to imagine that a God can walk amongst men, or even superheroes, but that is what Thor does. The concept naturally resolves to a point where Thor is seen no different to a superhero but this is where the beauty of his character foils. Thor is the Odinson with a regal lineage and a culture befitting of a Viking in middle England, trying to fit in a modern America. This has always been the challenge in making Thor accessible and interesting but rarely is it accomplished. Jason Aaron takes on the gauntlet to turn this eloquently dull Avenger into the august sovereign he was born to be. Jason has had decent runs on Incredible Hulk and Wolverine and the X-Men, but he is well known for his creator owned work on Scalped and The Other Side. His concepts are often well developed and executed but Thor may prove the worthy opponent. Esad Ribic is a Croatian artist whose previous work revolves around small subsidiary X-Men books and comic covers. As a relative unknown he brings a fantasy quality to the book and he seems to be settling into the book exceptionally well.
This current arc is flying in a Viking ship towards its finale. This issue brings together three separate sub-plots that have been cultivated since the first issue. It is tough enough that they involve three different eras but they all involve a Thor of differing ages: the youthful and reckless boy, the bold and well tempered Thor of present day and the boisterous and drunken old man of the future. Aaron and Ribic are building their story with not one but three Gods and a brand new heel: Gorr the God butcher.
Aaron has managed to keep Thor fresh by contrasting differing aspects of his personality that develop with age and experience. It’s a unique concept to take three personas of a single character and bring them together. Given how estranged and timid Thor can be on Earth, this is an exceptionally difficult challenge. This is where Esad Ribic comes in, as he places the noble warrior in a beautiful ethereal realm to which he is native. In this fantasy there are no recognisable places and no support cast outside of our protagonist. Esad distances this world from the Marvel universe and gives an enigmatic serenity to it. There are elegant Viking ships, ancient chainmail armours, and palatial locations for royalty. The pencilling is light and the tones are warm at dusk and cool at night. Svorcina colouring is wonderfully graded, but at times of emotion and action the inking is thicker and heavier. Gor has a dark grey appearance and his minions are black shadows compared to the lighter colours of the Odinson. Esad draws a truly regal Thor with a bolt upright posture poised for battle, whilst his physique could have been carved by Michelangelo. It is not defined by heavy outlines but with lighter detailing and subtle colouring to embody true magnificence. Most impressively Ribic is able to draw three unique protagonists with identifiable features, whilst maintaining an air of arrogance in all of them.
Gorr is a creature that has been disappointed by the deities of his time. He has spent too long on his knees in prayer and looked to far into the sky with hope. He steals and evolves a superpower in order to wreak vengeance; to butcher the Gods he once had faith in. Aaron takes the well-known themes of corruption and selfishness amongst superheroes and applies them to the deities. The classic loss of faith tenet, together with atheism and nihilism appear to obviously apply here. However Aaron chooses to steer clear from the messiness those ideas may bring. In a world where God walk amongst the people of Earth, it is a difficult analogy to interpret. Whilst ignoring the traditional idea of religion and worship, Aaron takes an antagonist to new heights of insanity and hatred. Gorr develops the Godbomb, a weapon the size of a planet ready to destroy the Gods. The exposition of the book is so impressive, that it feels completely natural to have three Thors coming together to prevent the destruction of their kind. The art is so incredible, the mood so perfect and the plot devices so well executed that this book has no business on a shelf of a comic shop. What it may lack in philosophical and theistic rhetoric it makes up for in superb mysticism and majestic artwork.
“Yes, lucky me, another one”