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Monday, November 19, 2012

Counter Monkey Steve Review: Thor: God of Thunder # 1

With the launch of its Marvel NOW! initiative, Marvel came to the decision to relaunch all of its major titles with a new # 1 to help drive home the point that along with a new creative team, each book would also be getting a new direction. Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, and even Spider-Man have ended or are ending their current series to be relaunched as new and yet organic series. THE MIGHTY THOR has found itself transformed into THOR: GOD OF THUNDER.

Stealing the thunder from THE MIGHTY THOR writer Matt Fraction, THOR: GOD OF THUNDER writer Jason Aaron, best known for his work on WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, SCALPED, and WOLVERINE, kicks the door off its hinges with his first issue. Aaron has stated in interviews that he had chosen Thor as something he wanted to tackle because it was outside of his normal comfort zone. His first issue has me questioning that statement. It manages to balance action, emotion, and drama quite well. Aaron's Thor tale transitions between Thor's past, present, and future to depict a villain that literally butchers any pantheon that happens to catch his fancy. Gorr the God Butcher does not make his face known to our hero in this opening salvo, but his presence emanates throughout each dark page. It goes without question to say that this foe will be things interesting for Thor. Upon seeing a small glimpse of the future, Thor seems to have sustained a large amount of damage, physically and psychologically, from this new villain, and Thor finds a unique way to overcome a disability inflicted upon him by his nemesis. The issue ends just as Thor, now the king and sole inhabitant of Asgard/Asgardia, prepares for what might be his final bloody battle.

Accompanying Jason Aaron on this journey is Esad Ribic, known most recently for his work on the opening story of ULTIMATE COMICS ULTIMATES. Ribic is no stranger to using his talent to depict scenes of mysticism and magic, and his beautiful work is on full display here. I think that his art alone would have sufficed in marketing this new series, but Aaron's writing only helps to enhance the story. This is truly another case of artist and writer being perfect for one another.

Unfortunately, the one area I find lacking in this book comes from the inking department. I believe that inking is a very important part of any comic, and I also believe that it can either enhance or degrade art work. Unfortunately, the inking degrades the artwork in this case. Ribic's artwork is best left to its own devices, to flow naturally along each panel and page. The inking, however, inhibits Ribic's creativity. Everything on the page seems to have an outline. It's obviously important for readers to be able to discern the difference between players on the page, but Ribic's art alone does that with aplomb. I don't think an inker was needed for this particular series. I by no means mean any offense. It's just something I noticed, having become more enamored with the art a comic displays than before. If the inking was Ribic's decision, that is one thing. If it's something editorial hoisted upon him, that's another. Either way, it doesn't work for me, I'm sorry to say.

The coloring is fantastic, as to be expected from Dean White, known for his natural and fitting tones on UNCANNY X-FORCE. If one thing does help portray the sense that the reader has been transported in Thor's world, it's White's coloring of Ribic's artwork. IT seems like there is no art that White's coloring can not make whole. It's an incredible gift, and I hope to see him linger on THOR: GOD OF THUNDER as long as Marvel will allow.

As a whole, I enjoyed the premiere issue of THOR: GOD OF THUNDER. Aaron has found himself a new comfort zone, apparently, because if he had not said mythology was not his thing, I would not have guessed it wasn't. His portrayal of Thor is spot on, and this is the kind of adventure and the kind of adversary Thor should encounter. This first issue does not suffer from first issue syndrome and feels like a complete story in and of itself that will only be enhanced by future reading. He's obviously writing to Ribic's strengths, too, because Ribic can draw one heck of an epic battle but can also display the more quiet and serene moments when necessary. This is another winner for Marvel, as long as they can fix that one teensy problem with the inking.

Writing: 5/5
Art: 4.5/5 (Sorry, Ribic, but I have to knock you down slightly for the inking.)
Inking: 3/5 (Not bad, but the outlining is unnecessary.)
Coloring: 5/5 (Dean White never fails to sell me on his work.)

I give THOR: GOD OF THUNDER # 1 4.38 claps of thunder out of 5. Until next time: only the worthy may find themselves enjoying a trip into the here and the Marvel NOW!



At 11/21/2012 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there's no inking on this,it's pencils


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