Comic Book Review: Thor #3

The Revolution absolutely loves what JMS has done with the return of Thor. JMS has done an excellent job bringing Thor back into the 616 Universe and making this title a fantastic read. Unfortunately, Thor #3 is going to be a crap issue. Why? Because I am beginning to hate the Initiative storyline more and more with each month. And because I’m a big Iron Man fan and I know I’m going to have to watch JMS punk out Iron Man in this issue and write a Tony Stark completely inconsistent with his character over his forty plus year history. I’m just going to hold my nose and get through this issue as fast as possible. Let’s hit this review for Thor #3.

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

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Thor arriving in New Orleans on his mission to find his fellow Norse gods. Thor arrives and comes across some beleaguered locals who are still suffering in the post-Katrina chaos that surrounds New Orleans. There is one man who is particularly haunted by the events of Katrina who tells Thor to get the hell out of their town. That they don’t need more outsiders coming into their town with false promises.

The locals walk away and suddenly, Iron Man appears on the scene. (Oh boy, here we go. Nothing sucks more than JMS’ hatchet jobs on Tony Stark’s character.) Iron Man acts completely unlike his personality over his forty-plus year history by acting like a total cocky cowboy getting in Thor’s face and telling him that either Thor is with the U.S. government or against it.

Iron Man says despite the fact that Thor owns the property that Asgard is built on and despite the fact that it is no longer on U.S. soil, that Thor can either move Asgard somewhere more appropriate and work with the government or the U.S. government can take control of Asgard if they choose so and then force Thor to move it.

Thor responds that he isn’t friends with Tony anymore after he perverted Thor by creating Clor. (Ah yes, Millar’s idiotic plotline that would have been better left being edited out by a smart editor.) Thor powers up and we have a brawl. Thor proceeds to kick Iron Man’s ass and comments that Thor is no longer going to hold back his power during a fight.

JMS proceeds to punk out Iron Man. Thor totally destroys Iron Man and then JMS further embarrasses Tony by having Thor state the fact that Iron Man is a mere mortal in an little iron suit while Thor is a god. Thor says that if any mortal invades Asgard then Thor will flood Washington D.C. killing thousands of innocent lives and destroy all of our airports killing more innocent lives. (Errrr, okay.) Thor then states that with regard to the Registration Act, he is going to remain totally neutral.

Iron Man then offers up a compromise. (Which is actually what Tony should have offered in the first place if JMS was concerned with writing Tony’s character even remotely close to his history.) Iron Man says that the United States will treat Asgard as a separate entity like a diplomatic embassy and then it is not officially in United States territory especially since it is hovering eight feet above U.S. territory. That would place Asgard and any of its inhabitants outside of the jurisdiction of the Registration Act and give Thor diplomatic immunity. Thor agrees to Tony’s proposition.

But, JMS isn’t done humiliating Tony’s character just yet. Tony says that his armor is totally busted and asks how he is going to get back to base? Thor turns his back and tells Tony to walk. And just when you thought JMS was done with his character assignation on Tony, Thor reminds Tony that at some later date the two of them are going to finish “discussing” Tony violating Thor’s person, his genetic code and what was once a friendship that he valued.

We then see Thor approaching the local from earlier in the issue who told Thor to leave their town. The man’s niece tells Thor how her uncle hasn’t been the same since he saw his loved ones drown during Katrina.

Thor comments how the mortal’s grief is compounded by the grief of gods never meant for mortals to bear. Thor places his hand on the man. Thor whips up a storm with his hammer and commands Heimdall to come forth and live again. We then see Heimdall emerge from the mortal man. Thor welcomes Heimdall home.

We cut to SHIELD headquarters with Tony looking at his ruined armor. A SHIELD agent informs Tony that engineering will have the replacement armor ready within the hour. (I refuse to believe that Tony would let a government agency have the knowledge and blueprint of how to construct his armor.) Tony informs the agent that for now they leave Asgard alone.

We slide over to Asgard and see Heimdall standing guard while Thor watches. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Thor #3 was a nicely paced issue. JMS gave the reader an enjoyable balance of dialogue heavy scenes with just enough action to keep the reader from being bored. JMS is continuing to use a restrained pace on this title, which I actually enjoy so far. It works with the Thor slowly but surely repopulating Asgard. It conveys what a daunting takes Thor has in front of him and that it will take a long time before Asgard ever resembles its former glory.

I love how JMS writes Thor. Thor’s mythological nature lends itself perfectly for JMS’ trademark wordy and overly dramatic dialogue. Thor also is a perfect match for JMS’s penchant for the mystical and magical. While this type of dialogue and story is a horrid match on a title like Amazing Spider-Man, it is perfectly suited and quite enjoyable on a title like Thor.

JMS gives us a Thor that is exactly how he should be. I have always disliked it when Thor was written as just another super strong metahuman. Often, Thor would be written like Wonder Man with old English dialogue. JMS understands that Thor isn’t a super hero. Thor is a god. Period. And Thor should act like a god, ego and all. Thor has the haughty attitude fitting for a god. Thor’s inflated ego is exactly as it should be for a god of his stature.

Thor should be somewhat dismissive and detached from the mere mortals around him. Thor doesn’t have to act like an asshole, but he shouldn’t act like a mortal. Thor shouldn’t act like Superman. JMS does an excellent job making Thor act appropriately godly without coming across like a vain asshole.

JMS also does a great job displaying Thor’s awesome powers. I loved how Thor flexed his muscles and showed that his power is mightier than any metahuman’s power. I also dig that JMS had Thor mention that he isn’t more powerful now, that he just always held back his powers whenever fighting mortal super heroes in the past. Couple that statement with the manner that Thor easily dispatched Iron Man and it is easy to say that any losses that Thor may have had to Iron Man or Hulk can be chalked up to him holding back his full powers.

And I’m glad to hear that. That is how it should be. Thor should be the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe. Thor should be able to kick Iron Man’s ass. Thor should be able to kick the Hulk’s ass. I’m glad that JMS is taking the approach that on the power spectrum you have Thor at the top with everyone else below him. That is exactly how the God of Thunder should be written within the context of the Marvel Universe.

I loved the dramatic return of Heimdall. It was great to see the guardian of the Bifrost Bridge back and better than ever. It is neat seeing how these various Norse gods are trapped inside mortals. And it makes sense that the mortals that house the spirits of the gods inside of them would be absolutely overwhelmed with grief.

Heimdall’s return was handled perfectly. And what made it powerful is that JMS kept Heimdall silent. All we needed to see was the brooding face of Heimdall to understand his pain and grief. All we needed was to see Heimdall silently back at guard over the entrance to Asgard to know that he was ready to once again serve his role as the guardian of Asgard.

Copiel and Morales crank out some fantastic artwork. Copiel draws one phenomenal Thor. I’m also impressed with the amount of emotion that Copiel manages to pack into his artwork. The reader gets a wonderful sense of the various characters’ emotions and feelings. This enables JMS to shut the hell up and allow the art to convey to the readers the various emotions of the characters.

The Bad: Seriously, JMS should be banned from ever writing Iron Man’s character again. JMS has consistently and repeatedly shown that he has no regard for Tony’s history in the 616 Universe. JMS is more concerned with performing continual character assignation on Tony just to further JMS’ own agenda with regard to this Registration Act storyline.
That is pathetic, inexcusable and unprofessional.

A writer only completely disregards a character’s long history when writing that character for two reasons. One, the writer is a total hack and doesn’t know any better. Two, the writer does it on purpose in order to advance their own agenda. The first is a product of incompetence. The second is a product of unprofessional behavior.

Since JMS is certainly a very talented writer, I feel confident that his constant butchering of Tony’s character just shows a serious lack of respect for Tony’s personality and history over the past forty plus years. That is simply unprofessional and drastically reduces any respect I might have for JMS as a writer.

JMS’ pathetic version of Tony Stark is completely inconsistent with his forty plus year history. Tony has never acted in such an over the top fascist manner spouting out such black and white ultimatums and then showing a brash eagerness to brawl. It was all so unbelievable and stupid.

The compromise position that JMS had Tony offer after getting his ass beat by Thor was what actually sounded like vintage Tony. The compromise position was actually extremely consistent with Tony’s character and history. And the compromise position was absolutely what should have been Tony’s first and only approach with Thor.

But, JMS couldn’t do that. Why? Because in JMS’ little mind, Iron Man now represents the Bush/Cheney administration and JMS is going to use Iron Man as a plot device to bash on the Bush/Cheney administration. JMS is going to transfer all the brash and overreaching actions of the Bush administration directly into Tony within the context of whole Registration Act storyline.

So, JMS uses Iron Man in a fashion completely inconsistent with Tony’s character in order to push his own little agenda and to lampoon the Bush/Cheney administration. Look, I think the Bush/Cheney administration has sucked big time. And I have no problems bashing them. But, don’t completely stomp all over my boy Tony Stark in an effort to bash the Bush administration.

JMS’s continual character assignation of Tony Stark’s character is actually becoming comical because it is so blatantly contrary to Tony’s long history in the Marvel universe. It comes across as a hack job pure and simple.

Also, JMS trying to shove Thor into the Registration Act is like a child trying to jam a square peg in a round hole. It lacks any internal logic or common sense. The Registration Act applies to masked vigilantes operation in the United States. The Act forces masked vigilantes to register their secret identities with the government and then operate under SHIELD authority.

Ok, now here is the deal, Thor isn’t a masked vigilante. Thor isn’t a metahuman. Thor isn’t a super hero. Thor isn’t even an old school mystery man. Thor is a fucking god. And Thor’s secret identity? He doesn’t have one. Want to know his real name for Registration purposes? It is Thor. No middle name. No last name. Just Thor.

At no point would a god and his mythical city even remotely come under the jurisdiction of the Registration Act. This is so stupid and far reaching. It was just a transparent excuse for JMS to punk out Iron Man and make him look like Iron Dick Cheney on yet another JMS title. I guess all the preaching and whining on his soapbox over on Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man wasn’t enough for JMS. He just can’t resist pushing his little agenda even more.

Now, even though I dig the haughty attitude that JMS has given Thor, I think JMS went way too far with Thor’s promise to attack Washington, DC if the government tries to attack Asgard. Do I think for a moment that Thor would willingly flood Washington, DC and kill thousands of innocent people? Um, no. I guess JMS was in such a lather with his chance to bash on the government that he went a bit overboard with Thor’s threat.

I also have to admit that I am getting a bit concerned over the pacing of this title. I have enjoyed the restrained and subdued approach that JMS has taken with this title. It has been a pretty cool and unique way to kick off a new title. However, the pacing is going to have to pick up soon or else this title runs the risk of becoming a plodding read.

Overall: Thor #3 was potentially a great read that was made dreadfully average due to JMS’ continued bizarre obsession with butchering Iron Man’s character. I love how JMS is handling Thor’s character. I also dig Thor’s mission of recreating Asgard to its former glory. I’m just glad that we got this obligatory Initiative bullshit tie-in issue over with. Maybe we can move past the mind numbingly boring Registration Act crap and get on with some kick-ass Asgardian action.

8 Comments

  1. Re: Armour. Wasn’t the reason for the whole “Tony as Secretary of Defense” story that because Stark’s special agreements with the US concerning his armour were invalidated on a technicality, so he chose to take up a supervisory role? So they should already have that stuff.

    The writers of Nova did this same basic story much better, without making Iron Man look like a fascist moron; Nova came home, Tony offered him a place in the Initiative and a day to think it over, Nova got assaulted by the Thunderbolts (not under Tony’s control) in the meantime, Iron Man broke up the fight, and Nova decided he didn’t like what the world was like, so he left for space (which is where he belongs, anyway).

    I don’t know if Tony took JMS’s momma out on a date and never called her or something, but I really hope he’s past his tired obsession with him, especially since the rest of the company has moved on. It looks especially petty when the writer of Captain America basically just set up Tony as the guy who’s going to save the day (or, at least, Black Widow and the Falcon).

  2. I think you broke rule #4 pretty well here.

    And how many times can you say “40 year history…” Yes, JMS wrote Iron Man to be a jerk. Have you been READING the other comics lately? I know you have… so perhaps you noticed the last years worth of Tony being a total jerk? It’s hardly JMS’s fault that Iron Man is currently set up with that sort of character. He’s just being consistent.. because Iron Man doing the fascist thing. That’s been happening just about everywhere. I admit it could have been handled a bit differently, it was a bit less smooth than Tony would probably have been – but that was needed so we could get to the part where he gets beaten up.

    Personally, I felt this issue was probably the single best issue of Thor I’ve ever read – it actually made me excited about a title I always felt was rather bland. I felt they handled both Heimdall beautifully, and Thor’s relationship with his “godhood.”

    As for Tony? After reading this Civil War dreck for the last year, I was thrilled to see Thor hand it to him. Now if he’d just go off and end this Hulk business.

  3. character assassination?

  4. So, ummm… how long a history does Iron Man have again? I think I missed that important bit of info somewhere.

  5. Solid review and I agree, JMS has been utterly terrible with Iron Man. Anyone reading Iron Man, New Warriors or Captain America will see Tony in a much better light than anywhere in the Marvel Universe currently. Having him appear and act completely different in Amazing Spider-Man or Thor is completely to blame on the editors for letting JMS do whatever he wants to tell his story.

  6. I think you do have a point on how JMS has portrayed Iron Man. Thought on the other side while I am no expert on Iron Man from the way other writers have written him recently and comments I have read about Iron Man fans from other message boards Iron Man has always been a bit of a prick.

    As to the registration act. It has gone through several revisions depending on which Marvel editor and writer you ask. I think the current version requires anybody that might consitute as “superhuman” register with the government and if they want to use their abilities at all they have to be a SHIELD agent. That is why in the Initiative Cloud 9, who only wants to fly without fighting crime, has to be a member of SHIELD.

    Since it is doubtful the U. S. government recognizes Thor’s claims of godhood he would just be another superhuman to him.

    I took the threats and calling Stark merely a man in a metal suit as merely Thor trying to get across to Stark that there are powers greater than the government and Thor, who has never been hesitant to do what he thinks his right and always had a certain disdain for mortal law, would use all his powers against them and it would be a battle the government could not win.

    Overall, I like the issue.

  7. I must respectfully disagree with both you and JMS on a couple of things (actually, I don’t need to must, but I kinda want to.)

    “Thor is a god. Period. And Thor should act like a god, ego and all. Thor has the haughty attitude fitting for a god.”

    The original story behind Thor, back in the day, was that he was a super haughty god and Odin made him human to learn humility. After time he got so into being human, the even after he got his godhood back, he still identified to a degree as one of them. I even remember some stories from the 90’s where Thor goes around telling people not to worship him.

    “I also dig that JMS had Thor mention that he isn’t more powerful now, that he just always held back his powers whenever fighting mortal super heroes in the past.”

    This raises questions though. When Thor fought Galticus, was he holding back then? For that matter, while it’s nice of him to pull punches, does that mean he did it against villains who might have destroyed the planet? It’s nice to have an even playing field, but it’s kind of dumb when lives are at risk.

    “Thor responds that he isn’t friends with Tony anymore after he perverted Thor by creating Clor.”

    My issue with that whole thing was ok, I get cloning is something a third grader can do in the MU, but you’d thing clone a god would be a tad harder. How do you clone the mystical energies and what not?

    Anyway, it was an overall asinine plot, but sense it happened, I can see Thor being cheesed about it.

    “The man’s niece tells Thor how her uncle hasn’t been the same since he saw his loved ones drown during Katrina”

    OK, so if the dude is Heimdall, who is the niece? So confused.

    “Thor arrives and comes across some beleaguered locals who are still suffering in the post-Katrina chaos that surrounds New Orleans.”

    This is why I don’t like when comics deal with current events. 1) It makes the comics seem dated. In ten years, it’s just going to seem old. 2) It raises a lot of questions. Why didn’t any heroes deal with the hurricane? Why hasn’t Tony used his millions to fix the place up again? Couldn’t Storm have done something? I realize that these things happen, but sometimes, it’s best for comics to leave them alone, rather than try to work them in.

  8. Just some responses to ilan

    Gods are haughty almost by nature. It comes with the difference between being a mortal and being a god. Odin banshied Thor because Thor’s arrogance was getting so high that even in the realm of the gods it was getting annoying. He was pissing off other creatures that were powerful enough to cause reprcussions if not to Thor to other Asgardians. Thor wasn’t thinking of the consequences of his actions so Odin banshied him to see what it was like to be weak and vulnerable.

    Thor holding back-This issue has been touched upon over the years. In some cases Thor will have trouble fighting a villain, but come back a short time letter and defeat the villain with little effort. Loki has commented at times how Thor gets used to easy victories, but when faced with other immortals has trouble at first due to having to readjust. Certain Avenger villains can hold off the whole team, but when the danger reaches a high point they fight Thor indiviually and Thor takes them out. So JMS is not making this up out of thin air. Most of the time though if the danger is great enough Thor simply ends a threat, but he hold back at times out of respect for mortal life or not to embaress his teammates.

    Cloning-I could be remembering wrong, but I think Reed or Stark mentioned they were using a Shi’ar form of cloning technology which they didn’t comletly understand to clone him. They also couldn’t replicate the mystical energies which was why they made him cyberneteic.

    Heimdall-The guy wasn’t Heimdall. He was a human with whom Heimdall’s spirit merged with. Thor merely separated the two.

    Katrina-1. As Thor pointed out the heroes were preoccupied with Civil War.
    2. What billionar do you know fixes up natural disasters all the time with their money? Plus all the red tape.
    3. Heroes in the past have shown a reluctance to certain types of intervention. Thor at least is more than willing to save lives, but when it comes to interferring with natural weather patterns he is more hesitant to use his abilities. Aside from the “humans have to learn on their own” there are certain natural cycles he knows he shouldn’t interfere with.

    I think that answers just about all your questions.

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