Writer: Warren Ellis
Penciller: Mike Deodato
Trade Paperback Collection
Published 1996, Marvel Comics
by Alasdair Watson.
book is one of Ellis' weaker comics, written in the mid ninties,
shortly after his time on Hellstorm and Druid. Whether he was chosen
for the job because of his success (critical, rather than commercial,
although Druid shifted numbers that would be considered entirely
respectable in today 's market) in revamping another tired Avenger,
or his acclaimed Excalibur run that was underway at the time, the
fact remains that Ellis was, as he says himself in his "Intermission"
(this being Marvel, they lack the good sense to place in introduction
at the start of the trade, chosing instead to place it between parts
two and three) a strange choice to re-vamp Thor. And given that
Thor (inevitably, perhaps) reverted to his previous status quo pretty
quickly, one is forced to wonder what the point was.
to be fair, he does his best to push the character forward, and
force him to grow, although in a slightly heavy handed manner, as
the climax sees Thor saying exactly that, "I must grow!". Sadly,
Ellis is hampered here by the ludicrous nature of Marvel's Norse
pantheon, and the need to recap the history of Thor in order to
push him beyond it. You see, Marvel haven't got the balls to have
an actual pantheon of gods that aren't Judeo-Christian (for fear
of teaching the kiddies satanic things at a guess). No, their Norse
pantheon are immortal extra-terrestrials who's technology is so
far advanced that it is indistinguishable from magic, even to them.
Add to that the slightly convoluted premise that the essence of
the thunder god has (over the course of the title's history) been
split between Thor himself, an alien who rejoices in the ludicrous
name of Beta Ray Bill, and two normal humans, and you start to understand
that this watered down version of Norse myth is a pretty lame duck
to begin with.
we have here is two separate stories: one about Thor in peril, being
rejected by Asgard, and saved by long-time foe, The Enchantress,
the other about a British detective on secondment in New York trying
to make sense of the events of Thor's story, and indeed, make sense
of the Thundergod himself. Where this falls down is that in the
second story is little more than an expository device, contributing
nothing to the overall story, and never even making contact with
Thor in the slightest. It serves a slight purpose in the brief interaction
with the Enchatress, simply to remind us that while she may have
put aside her differences with Thor, she still hasn' t reformed,
but one is still left with the feeling that there must have been
a more elegant option available for a recap of the title's history.
Thor strand on the other hand, works quite well, even if it is a
little heavy handed in places, as it genuine does move the character
beyond his previous self, into something newer and slightly more
interesting, developing in unexpected ways. (If nothing else, the
temporary removable of the awful thee's and thou's from Thor speech
is grounds for cheering.) It makes reasonable use of a blend of
Norse myth and mad science, speaking to the roots of the character
without overtly reminding us of the ludicrous nature of his orgin,
(shuffling that off into the strange side piece).
lets this slightly shaky attempt at a revamp down further, however,
is Mike Deodato's art. Confusing page layouts, inculding strange
two page splashes that require the readers to flip the book sideways,
and still leave you uncertain as to the reading order, ludicrous
proportions, and a variety of other sins make this book an annoyingly
difficult read. Marie Javins' colours raise the quality slightly,
but one is still left with the impression that she was left with
the unenviable task of polishing a turd.
things considered, this isn't worth bother. The quality of the story
doesn't repay either the price tag or the effort of reading it.
Alasdair Watson is one of the founders of PopImage.
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