"Thor: God of Thunder" #2 by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic builds on the fantastic opening to the series released two weeks ago. With the series amongst the strongest and most distinctively transformed of all Marvel NOW! titles released so far, the question going into issue #2 is whether Aaron and Ribic can maintain the momentum. The answer is a definite yes.
After the first issue concentrated on three separate timelines, the second issue sees the action stick mainly to the "past" version of Thor. Readers get glimpses at the other timelines, but they're more like flashes: shades of things to come, rather than the multi-pronged narrative of the first issue. That said, Past Thor is no less interesting for being so, as we're guided through an untold tale of his pre-Mjolnir days. The action is widescreen, cinematic, recalling "Game of Thrones" and "Lord of the Rings" starring a brash and petulant Thor whose inexperience colors his decisions and worldview. It's gripping stuff, as explosive as the first issue was tense.
It's the art that takes centre stage in this issue, though. Ribic's action has real weight behind it. Exaggerated visuals and heightened emotions, there's flair and style enough that it looks like gods battling, but it remains realistic enough to feel grounded and coherent. Ive Svorcina's colouring is fantastic too: hazy and atmospheric, conveying a chill that threatens to freeze your fingertips even as you read.
Next to visuals this strong, it wouldn't have been a huge problem if Aaron had dispensed with dialogue for this issue entirely. Luckily, he didn't. We've seen Aaron doing light-hearted work in "Wolverine and the X-Men" as well as gruff, threatening work in his solo "Wolverine" issues, but Thor manages to hit both ends of the spectrum. Like a Viking warrior let loose, it veers between high-spirited fun and aggressive, snapped-temper hostility, but never in a way that feels jarring. Thor is a character inherently capable of handling the tonal range, and Aaron makes full use of it.
It's clear that Aaron and Ribic's run on "Thor: God of Thunder" has all the makings of something very special. Not every Marvel NOW! creator reshuffle has resulted in a perfect mix, but this one definitely has. For the first time in a long time, Thor has a comic that can match his movie incarnation for visual thrills and visceral fun. An indisputable must-buy.