Comic Book Review: Thor #2

The Revolution really enjoyed the debut issue of Thor. It was nice to finally read an issue penned by JMS that was a good read. It seems like it has been forever since I read an issue JMS has done that I actually enjoyed. At any rate, JMS did a great job playing it low-keyed with the return of Thor in the last issue. I am confident that JMS will continue this steady pace and deliver another great read in Thor #2. Let’s do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Penciler: Olivier Copiel
Inker: Mark Morales

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Donald Blake eating at a diner in the small town in Oklahoma that he is currently staying in. The short order cook from the diner talks to Donald about what a nice small town there are. The cook asks Donald if it is true that he is a doctor. Donald says that he is. The cook then tells Donald that the meal is on the house.

Donald then leaves the diner and heads out of the small town to a deserted area of land with nothing around for miles. Donald says that this place is perfect.

We then cut back to the diner where the cook sees a massive thunder storm appear out of nowhere outside of town. We shift to a weather report talking about a strange massive storm that has been raging for a week in an open are of land in Oklahoma.

We shift to two local cops watching the storm with curiosity. We see Thor inside of the storm and witness that Thor is re-creating Asgard. Thor stands back once his job is done and stares at Asgard back and better than ever. Unfortunately, Asgard is totally empty and Thor walks around the city and imagines a scene where he promised his love, **, that he shall come for her. That he hall always find her though the world and fire and the end of all things stand between them.

Suddenly, the two cops pull up outside of Asgard and inform Thor that this land is private property and that Thor cannot build on this ground with ownership and a permit. Thor repeats the cop’s statement that Thor cannot build on this land. The cop affirms that Thor can’t. Thor retorts “Very well.” and proceeds to use his hammer to cause Asgard to break free from the earth and float about six feet from the ground. Thor responds that Asgard is no longer on the land. Thor goes back into Asgard and the two befuddled cops drive off.

We then shift to Thor sitting on a throne in the middle of the empty Asgard. Thor says that it is all nothing without his people. Thor then remembers from last issue when Donald Blake told him that if it is for the mortals to say whether the gods exist then he says that they live on in the hearts and should and minds of mortals. That they need only to be found and awakened.

We hop to the next morning with a farmer in his pickup truck arriving outside of Asgard. The farmer introduces himself to Thor and says that he is the owner of this piece of real estate and owns the air rights as well. The farmer says that if Thor wants to buy the land then they can negotiate a price.

Thor tells the farmer to come into Asgard. Thor mentions how everything about Asgard has been restored, even its treasury. Thor opens the door to a huge vault full of gold, jewels and riches. Thor tells the farmer to take what he wants and then leave and to not return. The farmer excitedly loads his pickup truck full of gold.

We cut to the townspeople sitting at the diner talking about how Thor bought up all of Ed’s land. One of the townspeople, an older lady, says that since Thor is a neighbor now that it is up to them to welcome him, make him feel a part of the community and maybe invite him to church. The old woman says that she hears that Thor is all alone up there in that big place and that must be hard to be alone like that. That that kind of alone must be the hardest in the world.

We shift to later that night with Thor staring out into the night sky. Thor thinks about Donald Blake’s words that the gods of Asgard live on in the hearts and souls and minds of mortals. That they only need to be found and awakened. Thor then calls out to his friends and tells them to hear his vow. That he shall find them even if he has to search the entire globe in his quest. That he shall find all of them. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Thor #2 was a great read. JMS surprised me by continuing his low-keyed approach to the return of the mighty Thor. JMS continues the same measured pace from the first issue. Even though the pace of the story is restrained, it still has a pleasant flow to it. I have to admit that I like this approach that JMS is taking with the plotting and pacing.

Usually, writers will start a new title with a bang and try to kick off the series with a fast paced story that attempts to hook readers by overwhelming them. Instead, JMS intrigues the reader with an unconventional steady pace with the first two issues. This style of pacing and plotting creates intrigue and tension in the reader as we are allowed to see the events of Thor’s return unfold organically. And it has certainly works with me.

JMS weaves a story that is almost lyrical and poetic in nature. The story is emotional and powerful as JMS is able to envelop the reader in this sense of loss and loneliness that surrounds Thor. The running theme of loneliness is a powerful one as JMS shows the reader that being alone is unbearable for anyone, even a god. That the need to be a part of a community and the need to belong to a group of people is a strong primal urge that resides inside of the hearts and souls of gods as well as human.

This theme plays in nicely with the location that JMS has chosen for Asgard. The small Oklahoma town represents all that is positive about simple small town life and the sense of community. The townspeople are fantastic. I love their colorful voices and their dialogue is well done. JMS is respectful in presenting small town folks by showing their simple nature without being insulting.

And it is a neat twist to see these simple normal folks having sympathy for an all powerful god. Normally, you’d think it would be the other way around. This re-enforces JMS’ theme that it is in the hearts of mortals that the gods receives their strength.

The creation of Asgard was well done. It was dramatic without being over the top. Asgard actually had a nice restrained and eerily silent entrance. I love that JMS chose to place Asgard in the middle of the heartland of America rather than in some other dimension. It makes Asgard even more unique by contrasting it with the overwhelming normalcy of small town middle America. All the scenes on Asgard were well done and were beautifully lonely and sad. The reader gets a good sense that Asgard is nothing without the people that populate it.

I really dig JMS’ take on Thor. JMS keeps in mind that Thor is a god. He is not just some super powered alien. Thor comes across as appropriately arrogant and superior as a god should be. Thor regards the small town people who visit him at Asgard as nothing more than mere nuisances.

This is emphasizes when Thor orders the farmer to take all the gold he wants in exchange for the land. Thor then instructs the farmer to leave and not return. We also see Thor’s godly attitude when he lifts Asgard off the ground and tells the police that Asgard is no longer on anyone’s land and totally dismisses the two cops.

JMS understands that Thor should view himself as something greater than a mere mortal. At no point should Thor simply act like Superman which is a trap many writers have fallen into.

JMS wisely keeps this rather somber story from being too heavy by sprinkling in some humorous scenes. The scenes involving the two cops offered up the necessary comedic relief for this issue.

JMS delivers a solid ending in this issue. JMS clearly sets out for the reader the direction for this title. That we are going to center on Thor’s quest to bring back all the Asgardian gods. This sounds interesting and should make for a fun read.

Copiel serves up some outstanding artwork. I totally dig Copiel’s Thor. He looks incredibly bad-assed and powerful. Copiel’s art really compliments the mood of JMS’ story.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue. I will admit that if you love a fast pace and tons of action, then you probably won’t enjoy what JMS is doing on Thor.

Overall: With JMS’ penchant for the mystical that we have seen over on Amazing Spider-Man, I believe that Marvel has found a title that works perfectly to JMS’ strengths. I am really enjoying Thor. It has been a long time, but it is nice to finally enjoy a comic penned by JMS. Thor is definitely a title worth checking out.

2 Comments

  1. I basically agree on the approach being taken here: treating every step of Asgard’s return as something to behold, rather than just as a perfunctory reboot before going back to normal. At the same time, we could maybe stand to pick up the pace just a bit.

    Coipel’s art is a perfect fit for the title (I noticed another unusual feature of his art: he uses movement lines to indicate things like shock or surprise, as well as comical confusion, which isn’t a technique you see much in modern comics).

  2. We’ll see how you feel when Thor finds that Loki is a Mexican.

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