After the two-issue introduction to this version of Thor and the world he inhabits, Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee open it up with appearances by Loki, Giant-Man, and the Wasp in a wonderfully exciting and entertaining issue. This issue is packed with emotion and passion as Thor tries to come to terms with where he is, why he’s there, and what he’s lost in the process. The issue is packed with enough story to fill two or three other comics, but it doesn’t feel overly dense or sluggish. The storytelling is economical and breezy, making the most of each panel and piece of dialogue.
Chris Samnee is a master of body language and facial expressions, and of packing so much into a page. Part of what gives allows Langridge to write so much dialogue and action is that Samnee can fill a page with panels and it never looks crammed or forced. Samnee’s art has an effortless feel to it, like it was dashed off in two minutes in a fit of genius. He obviously works hard to make the pages look so effortless, but the characters look so lively and animated through so few lines that the effortless feel remains.
Samnee’s depictions of Giant-Man and the Wasp match the lighter tone of Langridge’s writing. One of the best parts of this issue is the depiction of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne as their original adventurous duo not bogged down by years of painful drama between the two. Pym is a young, energetic scientist that will change the world for the better, while Van Dyne is his bubbly assistant/girlfriend that does more than it appears on the surface. It’s like the early days of the Marvel universe all over again!
The plot is straight out of a Lee and Kirby comic with Thor having nightmares about his arrival on Earth, only to awake and find his step-brother Loki there. The banter between the two is far more playful than it has been in a long time as Thor talks to Loki as the mischievous little brother that’s always getting into trouble, but is impossible to stay mad at. Of course, Loki works a bit of his mischief and ruins Thor and Jane’s shopping trip while Pym and Van Dyne investigate the murder of Dr. Stephens, the man Hyde killed last issue. The misunderstanding has Thor and Giant-Man at odds, while Jane and the Wasp figure out what’s going on.
Between all this plot is some great character work with Jane’s job giving her headaches, while Thor marvels at the novelty of shopping for clothes. It’s just a very fun issue where the problems come across as serious but solvable, something that’s more a funny hindrance than world-shattering. Thor’s naïveté creates a good ‘fish out of water’ dynamic with the other characters as Giant-Man and the Wasp seem almost used to the idea that when heroes meet for the first time, they’ll invariably fight because of a mix-up.
I hoped going in that “Thor the Mighty Avenger” would be as good as it looked, but it’s even better. Roger Langridge writes stories and characters that are entertaining and recall the early days of the Marvel universe, while Chris Samnee delivers art that looks deceptively simple. This comic is quite possibly the best new superhero title of the year and is exactly what any lover of superheroes should be reading.