Thor currently has an incredibly bizarre position in the Marvel Universe. After going through Ragnarok and disappearing altogether in 2004, he had a faked-out return during "Civil War" and eventually came back properly in 2007âs "Thor" #1, written by Straczynski. Since then, he hasnât appeared outside his own title, and I kind of felt like maybe the relaunch had sort of gone under the radar.
Not so. In February 2008, "Thor" #6 was the number four best-selling comic in the industry. Wrap your noodle around that one. Number four. Beating "Ultimates" v3 #3 and Frank Millarâs "Batman." Beating the debut of Millar and Hitch on "Fantastic Four". Beating two of three Spider-Man: Brand New Day issues released that month. All of this, with the sixth issue of his title.
As you can imagine, despite my initial skepticism, it seemed like it was worth giving "Thor" a once-over.
And I have to admit. . . Iâm impressed. Perhaps I had low expectations because most of the time, I donât like Straczynskiâs writing. Perhaps itâs just that Iâve got no specific interest in Thor. Perhaps itâs just Djurdjevicâs amazing artwork. Whatever the reason, this was easily the best issue of Thor that Iâve ever read.
The plot of Thorâs new title shows the titular Norse deity as he rebuilds Asgard following Ragnarok, recovering the fallen gods. Heâs the current Lord of Asgard and until now has claimed that he canât bring Odin back because Odin died before Ragnarok. In this issue, we learn that this is a lie - Thor just doesnât want to bring Odin back. Conversing with Thor in a sort of mystical beyond-the-grave dream-time, Odin tells Thor why that is, relating the story of how he came to succeed his own father as Lord of Asgard in much the same way. Itâs an excellent tale that actually threatens to make Odin a more interesting character than Thor.
I donât know how much of Straczynskiâs Norse lore is made up and how much is Marvelâs (or Straczynskiâs) take on the mythology, but Odinâs story is a fantastic use of the bookâs unique position. Brian Woodâs "Northlanders" might be showing street-level Norsemen brilliantly, but Marvel has the more fantastic side fully stitched up. Djurdjevicâs interiors are stark, grimy and cold - exactly like youâd expect Asgard to look. Itâs frankly criminal that heâs been churning out nothing but Daredevil covers for ages now.
There are some of JMSâ idiosyncrasies present that grate a little, but somehow I can forgive them. While Iâm still unsure how interested I am in a "Thor" ongoing, this one issue has at least convinced me that I could easily enjoy it. I may well be back next issue.