Comic Book Review: Thor #10

For the most part, The Revolution has enjoyed JMS’ Thor. And I have even given JMS deference with his decision to employ a slow and measured pace while reintroducing Thor and Asgard itself back into the 616 Universe. I believe that this was a huge act and one that should not have been rushed.

Having said that, we are now on our tenth issue and it is time for JMS to ratchet up the pacing and intensity on this title. We also need to see that JMS has some sort of clear point and purpose with this title other than idle pontification. Hopefully, JMS will crank this story up with Thor #10. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Oliver Copiel
Inks: Mark Morales, Allen Martinez & Victor Olazaba

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with a bunch of locals and tourists camped outside of Asgard and using high powered binoculars and camera lenses to sneak a peak at some of the Asgardians. We cut to inside of Asgard with Balder still amazed at Loki’s statement that Balder is Thor’s half-brother. Loki states that Thor has always known this fact and has chosen to never tell Balder.

Loki then tells the tale of how Odin was celebrating some great victory. Evidently, the Norse gods would party for weeks on end with tons of meats and sweets, wine and ale and lots of women. (Nice. I should have been born a Viking.) One night during all this partying, Odin had sex with Frigga. Of course it was only for one night because Odin is a playa’ and as the Lord of everyone, Odin could not be confined to just one woman.

As a result of that one night stand, Frigga got pregnant with Balder. (Really? Lord of everyone and everything and Odin cannot manage to make sure he doesn’t get Frigga pregnant? I guess even gods need to wrap it before they hit it.)

Odin then had a vision of the future where he saw Balder as a grown warrior dying and taking the fate of all of Asgard with him. Therefore, Odin went out to search the dark places between the living and the dead for answers about this vision. On his thirteen day journey Odin kicks ass on all sorts of evil creatures that crossed his path.

Odin then arrived at a death chamber in a circle of stones where the body and spirit of a prophetess, one of the ancients, was laid to rest. The prophetess spoke from under the ground and asked Odin to give her something to drink so that she might rouse herself from the cold stones.

Odin had nothing to drink with him so he slit his hand and poured some of his blood onto the ground. Suddenly, a ghoulish woman sprang from the ground. She thanked Odin for freeing her. She then told Odin that Balder’s death at the beginning of Ragnarok would herald the death of all the gods.

Then Balder and him alone would be reborn afterward and create a new race of gods. The legacy of Odin would continue. But if Balder died before Ragnarok began then Balder would not return at its end and Odin’s lineage would be broken for all time.

Odin realizes that if anyone ever discovered this information then Balder would become a target. Therefore, for Balder’s safety, Odin kept Balder’s true heritage a secret. Loki adds why Thor has continued to deny Balder this truth is a mystery.

Loki says that he knows he has not been worthy of Balder’s trust in the past. But, since Loki’s return he has dedicated himself to the belief that there is no greater nobility than revealed truth. Since their return Loki has not lied to anyone and is not lying now. Loki tells Balder to test him and go ask Thor if it is true.

We cut to Balder throwing open the doors to Thor’s throne room.

We shift to the local diner where Bill is working cooking food and looking like his mind is a million miles away. Bill thinks about when he went to Asgard to meet Kelda. Kelda asked Bill if he found her beautiful. Bill said he did. Kelda then asks “Then why do you not touch me.” (Nice. Bill is a pretty lucky guy.)

One of the customers asks Bill how Asgard was. Bill says it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The customer then says that he went to Vegas once and thought it was the most beautiful place ever. Especially the women. However, it did not take him long to learn that the entire place was a hustle. And if you are not real careful a place like that can kill you.

Bill says Asgard is not Vegas. The customer says that Bill is right. Because in Vegas even guys like them can win once in a while. The customer then leaves.

An older local man tells Bill to ignore the other guy. The old man says that the biggest mistake a man could make is not listening to his own heart. That mistakes you make can always be worked out. The mistakes you don’t make because you do nothing because you don’t try and don’t risk are the ones that haunt you when you get old. Regret is the real killer. The old man tells Bill to go where his heart leads him and life will take care of the rest. The old man leaves and Bill thinks about Asgard.

We slide back to Thor and Balder sitting together. Thor confirms Loki’s entire story as the truth. Thor says that he never said anything out of safety for Balder.

Loki then arrives on the scene. Balder asks Thor why he didn’t tell him about it after Ragnarok ended. Thor answered that on any day he decided to tell Balder that the question would arise why Thor did not tell Balder the day before. Thor said he was seeking an answer to that question and in not finding one in his shame he kept putting off the difficult task.

Loki tells Balder that she welcomes him to their family and their brotherhood. Balder thanks Loki. Loki then asks Thor when will they tell the other Asgardians and celebrate Balder’s heritage and herald the crowing of a new prince of Asgard. Thor agrees and orders the celebrations to begin.

We slide to two of the local old ladies. Suddenly a massive horn makes then fall to the ground. The old ladies get up and wonder what kind of horn could make such a sound.

We hop back to Asgard where Volstagg is blowing a massive horn and kicking off the celebration. We see Balder watching the celebration from a private balcony. Loki tells Balder that everyone is waiting to see him. Balder replies that he wanted to see Loki first. Balder says that in the past he has always condemned Loki as a liar and a thief. But, Balder is now willing to give Loki the benefit of the doubt. Balder tells Loki to not abuse it.

Loki readily thanks Balder for his kind offer. Loki says that he will offer his counsel freely to advice Balder and guide him from now on. (Yeah, right. We can see where this is headed.)

We cut to Balder saluting the crowd with Thor standing behind him. We see Loki watching the scene. Loki is standing next to a window and suddenly looks outside the window. A little boy staring through one of the telescopes set up for the locals and tourists screams that Loki just looked at him like she knew he was there. The little boy tells his father that he wants to go right now. Loki gives the telescope an evil smile. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Thor #10 was a slightly better than average read. JMS does deliver some well done dialogue for most of this issue. I like how JMS handles the voices for the “common folk” of this small mid-west town. JMS also does an excellent job writing the various Norse gods. The grandiose Asgardians are a perfect match for JMS’ naturally overly dramatic style of dialogue. Each god has a fitting external voice as the reader is always aware that these are truly gods and not just super humans.

I enjoyed the interesting plot wrinkle with the revelation that Baldar is Thor’s half-brother and consequently also a Prince of Asgard. Being a son of Odin elevates Baldar and should immediately provide some necessary tension between him and Thor.

There is little doubt that Loki will work hard to gain Balder’s trust. And once gaining that precious trust I would imagine that Loki will then position himself to deftly and slyly cause Balder to clash swords with Thor in an attempt to overthrow Thor as the King of Asgard.

I completely enjoyed the scene with Bill at the diner. Sure this plotline does not seem like it has much of a purpose at all. But, it was a sweet and well written scene. I completely agree with the old man’s philosophy on life and how regret is truly the only thing that a man has to worry about.

Oliver Copiel provides plenty of solid artwork. The best part of Copiel’s art is how he packs so much emotion into the facial expressions of each character. Still, this was not the best effort that Copiel has given on this title up to this point. Of course, it is possible that the inks by committee made Copiel’s artwork less than spectacular in this issue.

The Bad: Thor #10 is slow. No seriously, this issue is S-L-O-W. As a matter of fact, JMS’ Thor might possibly be one of the slowest stories over the course of the first ten issues of any title that I have ever read.

Again, I appreciated the fact that JMS took his time with the first couple of issues in order to properly restore Asgard into the 616 universe. And I agree that the measured pace was the only way to truly do Thor’s return to the 616 Universe any justice. However, we are now on issue #10 and it seems like we have accomplished pretty much nothing over the past several issues.

Thor #10 was a poorly plotted issue. Thor is quickly beginning to lack direction. We get the explanation about Balder being Thor’s brother that was dropped on us in the last issue. But, we really do not have any long term plotlines at all on this title. Yeah, we have the general plotline of Loki being Loki. And we have the plotline involving Bill’s desires for Kelda. And that is pretty much about it. The reader truly gets the sense that nothing and I mean nothing is really going on in this title.

At this point I am unsure if JMS even knows what the hell he wants to accomplish with this title. I certainly have no idea. It has become apparent that Thor is grossly lacking a mission statement. That this title is lacking a clear direction. It appears that JMS has absolutely no long-term vision for this title. Thor #10 reads like JMS is simply meandering about and is just winging it with each issue. I just do not feel that JMS has a blueprint containing his long-term plans for this title.

Thor #10 had zero action. Oh, I am sorry; we did get one panel of Odin cutting off a wolf’s head. That is it. Now, I dig an issue that is character and plot driven as much as the next reader, if not more so. And I do not need non-stop action in every issue in order for the writer to retain my interest.

However, JMS has not given us much action on this title in general. And Thor #10 is continuing that trend. JMS has not treated the reader to enough action that is required from a title that features large Vikings with swords and hammers.

I liked the ending with Loki watching Balder’s celebration from afar. And if JMS had ended the issue like that then I would have given this ending a higher grade. However, JMS had to fall victim to his penchant for the overly dramatic and give us a final page of Loki being overly evil. I expected Loki to utter a “Mwuh-ha-ha-ha” and twirl his handlebar moustache.

I prefer the more subtle approach of simply having Loki skulking in the shadows and watching the celebration from afar. That was enough for me. Look, everyone in the world knows that Loki is evil and is clearly up to no good. JMS did not need to unnecessarily pound the point into the reader’s head.

Overall: Thor #10 was a slightly above average read and I have to admit to being a bit disappointed with the direction of this title over the past couple of issues. JMS has moved at a mind-numbingly slow pace. Thor #10 is a bit of a boring read that needs an injection of excitement and adventure to breathe some life into this dry and talky read. I do not recommend Thor #10 unless you are a huge fan of either JMS or Thor.

6 Comments

  1. On a grammer note, you refer to Loki with male-specific terms in a couple of places; I confess, despite the sex-change, it’s hard to think of Loki as a woman.

    Also, according to this issue, Odin created vampires by accident; thanks a lot.

    I agree with the thrust of your review: scene to scene the story works fine, but it’s going way, way too slow (a lot like what I thought of JSA through most of the “Thy Kingdom Come” arc). I appreciate that JMS wants to emphasize the mythic nature of Thor’s return, and it worked really well in the first issue, and sporadically since then, but the overall effect of these ten issues has been to kind of deflate the idea that Thor’s return is a big deal; he showed up, hit Iron Man with his hammer a couple of times, and since then he’s just sat around talking portentously about Asgard’s future and interacting with the local yokels.

    Also, Loki continues to be spectacularly unsubtle. Every scene he’s in we get everybody else prefacing and epiloguing their dialogue with words to the effect of “we’re watching you, Loki”, but then they just fall for his/her schemes anyway. Given that everyone else is basically acting as they did pre-Ragnarok, there’s no reason to think he’s changed, to reason to just let him hang around, certainly no reason for anyone to trust him or, for God’s sake, confide in him. And he might as well walk around wearing a big neon “I am evil; ask me about my evil plan” sign.

  2. I picked up that issue and I liked it well enough. I agree that it was slow, and this is not the first time I’ve heard that about JMS Thor.

    If the series as a whole is as slow as this issue, I won’t be adding it to my pull list.

  3. “As a matter of fact, JMS’ Thor might possibly be one of the slowest stories over the course of the first ten issues of any title that I have ever read.”

    You can replace the words “Thor” with any title JMS has written, and have it be a true statement.

    JMS is all set-ups (most of which I find to just be obvious spins on what someone else has done before) and no long-range plans or payoffs.

  4. In Norse Mythology, Balder IS the son of both Odin and Frigga and that his death does tie into the beginning of Ragnarok in which Balder is supposed to be reborn and be the father of a new race of gods. So, at the very least, JMS is doing his homework.

    –Mike McNulty

  5. Is this going to be ASM all over again? The latest incarnation of that title pre Brand New Day was penned by JMS and it seemed every week your reviews of the title griped about it being stuck in neutral and re-telling the same story over and over again. Is the same starting to happen with Thor do you think??

  6. As a result of that one night stand, Frigga got pregnant with Balder. (Really? Lord of everyone and everything and Odin cannot manage to make sure he doesn’t get Frigga pregnant? I guess even gods need to wrap it before they hit it.)

    Thats why Vikeings always were helmets. thats why he should keep his Mjolnir in his belt. Thats why you have to be careful how you enter the fjords. Ummmm, ok, think thats all I have.

    Also, while the artwork is nice, Thor keeps being drawn a little chubby. His face constantly looks like he’s ready for pie. If I wanted to see fat dudes in long hair speak fake enlish, I’d call my high school firends.

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