It is a new beginning for the Thor franchise. Jason Aaron had an excellent run as the head of the Thor franchise that concluded with the exciting War of Realms big event. But, all things must come to an end and Aaron is now off of Thor and Donny Cates has been given the keys to the Thor franchise. I am interested to see if Cates continues to build off of what Aaron built during his time helming Thor or if Cates junks Aaron’s run and goes in an entirely different direction. Let’s go ahead and hit this full-spoiler review for Thor #1!
Writer: Donny Cates
Art: Nic Klein
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Thor throwing his hammer across all of the 10 realms of Asgard. Mjolnir brings a message to Asgard’s foes to not cross the new King of Asgard. That war is over. The message to Asgard’s allies is that peace shall spread across all of the realms. Mjolnir then enters Earth and smashes a giant creature that was battling the Avengers. Mjolnir lands on the ground and Tony Stark then asks if anyone has a sharpie.
Back in Asgard, we see Thor with Sif. Sif is now the guardian of the rainbow bridge and the Bifrost. Thor asks if Sif saw his awesome throw. Thor holds out his hand and Mjolnir returns to him. We see written on the side, “Nice shot! Enjoy your retirement.”
We cut to Thor on his new throne at the base of the Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Thor’s palace is not gold and shimmering like Odin’s palace. It is rustic full of wood and stone. Loki appears. Thor reaches to pick up Mjolnir and grunts when he does so. Loki asks if the hammer is getting heavier to lift. Thor throws Mjolnir at Loki and stops it in mid-air right in front of Loki’s face. Loki asks how Thor can now do this. Thor says that he is now the All-Father and has even more power than ever. (Thor is leveling up!)
We cut to Thor about to address the people of Asgard. Suddenly, Galactus’ beaten and broken body plummets onto the scene and crashes into the ground. Thor immediately leaps to attack Galactus. Galactus then says that he is here for help. That only Thor can stop the Star Plague. That the Great Black Winter is coming.
We cut to several weeks later. It has rained every day since Galactus arrived. We then see Volstaff at Yddrasil. Volstagg notices that The World Tree is beginning to die. We shift to Thor meeting with Galactus’ Heralds, Cosmic Ghost Rider, Nova, Praetor, Stardust, and Alpha Ray. Thor thanks the Heralds for answering his call. Thor says that he needs to know what the Black Winter is.
Suddenly, Silver Surfer walks into the room. Surfer says that Black Winter is the one true end. That the Black Winter killed the universe before theirs. That Galactus is the only one who has ever survived the Black Winter. Twice. The first, was when Galactus was still a man. The second time right before he crashed into Asgard. Silver Surfer reveals five special planets whose rare and unique energies would give Galactus power beyond imagination. Surfer says that he has hidden this information from Galactus. Until now. Surfer says that Galactus is their only hope. Surfer says that he will be Galactus’ herald for this mission. Thor says that he will accompany Surfer and Galactus.
We cut to Thor and the Heralds arriving at the location where Galactus is located. Galactus reads Surfer’s mind and knows of the plan. Galactus says that when you tase into the Black Winter you see the form of your own true death. Galactus says that he has gazed into it twice. The first when he was still the mortal Galan. He watched his universe die before his eyes. Then Galactus saw it again just recently. Galactus says that Thor was the embodiment of Galactus’ one true death.
Galactus blasts Thor with a massive energy blast. Galactus says that if Thor is to be his end then they will kill the Black Winter together. And when they are done Galactus wants Thor close so he may have words with him. However, until then, Galactus tells Thor to rise. Galactus calls Thor his Herald of Thunder. We see Thor rising out of the smoke and is transformed into a new bitching form of Thor with both his eye and left arm back and better than ever. End of issue.
The Good: Thor #1 was an awesome debut issue! Donny Cates constructs an issue that carries out all of the necessary tasks that are incumbent upon a debut issue of a new title. Cates wastes zero time assembling all of the characters for this title. Cates then quickly installs the primary immediate conflict in the form of the Black Winter. Cates then also installs a long-term conflict in the form of the eventual showdown between Galactus and Thor. Cate clearly sets forth the mission statement for this title. The reader understands that Thor is going to be delivering a grand cosmic journey that will focus on action and adventure. The reader knows exactly what they can expect to get in the pages of Thor going forward. Thor #1 is truly a complete debut issue.
Cates certainly brings his own unique perspective to the Thor franchise. I appreciate that Cates is not simply ignoring Aaron’s run on Thor. Instead, Cates takes Aaron’s Thor and continues to build upon it while still bringing his own ideas and concepts to the Thor franchise. Rather than completely dismantling everything or simply ignoring Aaron’s run, Cates manages to make his first issue of Thor feel like an organic transition from Aaron’s run. This is not easy to do and I appreciate that Cates made a serious effort to kick off this new Thor title in as seamless and logical a fashion as possible.
Cates treats the reader to a refreshed version of Asgard that reflects the more primal and Heavy Metal vibe of Aaron’s Thor. Thor’s Asgard is more rooted in classic historical Norse fashion with a mix of Boris Valejo Heavy Metal. The stone and wood to Asgard versus the gleaming Kirby approach is more fitting with our present Thor’s blunt and ornery personality. This also helps to give Cates’ Thor an artistic difference from what has come before. Cates does a fine job putting a bow on War of Realms as he unveils the newly reconstituted Asgard. The reader gets a clear understanding of the differences to Asgard since the conclusion of War of Realms and how Asgard may operate differently going forward.
The aspect of Cates’ story on Thor #1 that I loved the most was Thor himself. Cates absolutely nails it with Thor’s character. Now, I enjoyed Thor: Ragnorok as much as anyone. However, I was less than enthused as Aaron made Thor more and more like the MCU Thor from Thor: Rangorok over in the pages of the Avengers. Unfortunately, Aaron reduced Thor to nothing more than a walking punchline. Thor became a bit of an empty vessel who offered little value other than being the source of constant jokes.
That is definitely not the case with Cates’ Thor. Cates has returned a strong sense of gravitas back to Thor’s character. Thor comes across as a complete badass with a real edge to his personality. Thor is now King of Asgard and now projects the aura of a King with a commanding presence and a no-nonsense personality. I love this direction that Cates is taking with Thor. I am excited to see how Cates continues to handle Thor’s character going forward. I think we are in store for a fantastic version of Thor’s character.
Cates also delivers quality character work in the scene with Thor and Loki. Cates effectively conveys the new dynamic between these two brothers in a concise manner. Cates gets over with the reader Thor’s new powers as the All-Father. The reader also gets a sense of Thor’s new personality that has come with his crown as he commands Loki to kneel before him. All of this helps to firmly establish Thor’s new powers and his new attitude. This scene also shows how the dynamic between Thor and Loki has evolved into something different.
Now, just because Cates presents the reader with a more serious Thor does not mean that Thor #1 is bereft of any humor. Cates still delivers some well-timed humor that lands perfectly. One example of this is when Iron Man writes a message to Thor on the side of Mjolnir. That was fantastic. I appreciate that Cates is still going to deliver some humor even though he is looking to give the title a serious tone overall.
Cates does a fine job with the dialogue and character work throughout the issue. Thor gets the lion’s share of the character work. But, all of the other supporting characters are well handled. All of the dialogue had a pleasant flow. Personally, I prefer Heimdall as the guardian of the rainbow bridge and the Bifrost. Having Sif in this role seems weird and unnecessary. However, that is not a hill that is worth dying on so I’ll live with it. I love seeing Volstagg in Thor’s palace and getting plenty of panel time. The Warriors Three should always be around their boy Thor. It just feels right.
The plotting and pacing on Thor #1 are excellent. Cates moves the story forward with a clear purpose in mind. The story never meanders or slows down. The scenes transition naturally into the next one. The entire flow of Thor #1 is well constructed. The story gradually builds in intensity as we head toward the climactic final page. The sudden appearance of Galactic was an unexpected plot surprise.
The reveal of the Black Winter was a cool moment that introduces a neat cosmic concept worthy of a grand quest for our hero. And a quest type story is a perfect one for a mythological character like Thor. Cates presents the reader with a mythical and mysterious threat in the Black Winter and then gives out heroes their MacGuffin’s in the form of the five special planets to give them several goals to attain along their quest. All of the smaller quests for the five planets will culminate in a larger battle with the Black Winter. This is simply some quality fantasy genre storytelling. Cates succeeds in getting me interested in going on this quest with our heroes.
Cates ends Thor #1 with a fantastic hook ending with Thor transforming into Galactus’ Herald of Thunder. This was such a cool plot twist and a seriously awesome power up for Thor. Cates had already shown the reader that Thor had received increased powers by becoming the All-Father. Now, Thor has become even more powerful by receiving additional powers from Galactus. I am excited to see where Cates goes from here. This is an excellent fresh start for Thor and I like the new powers and new look that help give a new identity to Thor.
Nic Klein delivers plenty of nice artwork. I love Klein’s new design for Thor at the end of this issue. This is such a bitchin’ look. I am glad to see that Thor has gotten his eye and arm back. I dig the glowing effect to Mjolnir. The costume is excellent. Klein manages to retain some of the classic Thor design cues in this new costume design. I like the new design element like Norse rune with three circles set upon a star-filled night sky. The rune on the chest of the costume is the same rune that Thor has above his throne. The three circles harken back to the classic silver circles that have adorned Thor’s costumes in the past. The starry night sky emphasizes the new cosmic role that Thor has as the Herald of Thunder and his relationship with Galactus. All in all, Kelin deserves high marks for Thor’s new costume.
The Bad: I have no criticisms of this issue.
Overall: Thor #1 is a fantastic start to a new era for Thor. Donny Cates demonstrated that he is more than capable of following Jason Aaron on Thor. In fact, Cates made me believe that he is capable of delivering a Thor that is just as good if not better than Aaron’s run. I would definitely recommend Thor #1. Any reader who likes cosmic tales, epic quests, and superhero action will certainly enjoy Cates’ Thor. Things are looking very bright for the future of the Thor franchise.
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