8 May 2011 No Comment
Well this feature is a little different from the usual articles on The Queer Sphere, but I’m hoping it’s just as interesting. What I’m trying to do is introduce a larger number of people to comics. Now I know that most of us have been bombarded by comic book films for the past several years, but I want to try and explore the medium itself and get more people interested in reading them.
However I am going to do things a little differently by focusing on the less mainstream characters, whilst highlighting specific series, writers and artists. Basically it’s a long winded recommendations article. So without further ado I shall begin with a look at Marvel Comics God of Thunder Thor! Yes ok so this is a bit of a cash-in and a cheat, however before the film was released who actually knew Marvel had plundered Norse mythology and created a superhero around Thor?
A god and a charter member of The Avengers Thor has been part of the Marvel universe since his first appeared forty-nine years ago in the anthology series Journey Into Mystery. Out of the minds of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Larry Lieber, Thor was a play on Lee’s thoughts on how superheroes are the modern days version of mythology. Taking a few of the original mythological concepts (like his hammer Mjolnir.) and mashing it together with superhero cliché the creators made a unique character who could traverse a multitude of genres, from the all out fantasy to a space faring sci-fi. Also for an added bonus Lee and co gave Thor an ‘old world’ dialect, which throws in thy, hath and nay into most of Thor’s speech bubbles.
However when I was first introduced to the character the concept seem a little ridiculous. A Norse god, who fought along side Iron Man and Captain America, just seemed out of place in Marvels usually grounded universe. Yes a boy given powers after a spider bite isn’t what some would considered grounded, but it was the fact that most of the Marvel characters where put in a real world environment and didn’t live in Metropolis or Gotham City which helped make them more believable and the characterisation made them more relatable to me. However here we have this tall, muscle bound, blonde jock flying through the skies at Marvel, who is also perhaps the company’s most powerful member, which didn’t seem to work for me.
Now it took me sometime to truly appreciate Thor and in all honesty it was a recent development. I always saw the character as a deus ex machina for the Avengers books, as he would come in at the end and smack someone with his hammer and threat would be over. This is selling him short, but it is the same problem that I have with another ultimately powerful being over at DC Comics. If Thor is a god who could stop him? The question I always asked myself, therefore defusing all tension in any Avengers storyline. But the wealth of fun to be had with Thor isn’t in his power (even though seeing him cut loose on panel is always fun), but in all of his baggage, from his romance with Jane Foster to his daddy issues with Odin. But the crowning glory of Thor has to be his conflict with his brother Loki. Marvel has done what they do best with and created a multi-layered villain that even we could sympathise with. The rejected son standing in the lime light of the better brother, the mad trickster god willing to kill anyone so that he can make his enemies suffer or the silver tongued manipulator, weaving plans to bring chaos to Midgard. Loki is all of these things and more (and yes I have always liked him more than Thor). It is this conflict between them that I find most compelling with Thor. Not only that but as I stated before Thor can inhabit a lot of genres and due to no small feat by the writers and artists he seems to fit well.
So, the son of Odin isn’t someone to be dismissed lightly and hopefully with the recent films success (a film that has probably the most definitive version of the character in my opinion) he can sustain his time in the mainstream spotlight he rightly deserves.
With each one of these articles I will put together a list comics that best represents the strengths of the character/writer/artist.
Walt Simonson’s run
Mr Simonson’s forty odd issue run on the character, as writer and artist, is considered the greatest. It truly encapsulates all that is great about Thor, blending mythology and super heroics harmoniously. Also it introduced everyone to the crazy concept of Beta Ray Bill, an alien with a horse head who manages to wield Thor’s hammer.
J. Michael Straczynski’s run
This is the run that truly sold me on Thor so I highly recommend it. It is sort of a reboot of the character; he had been out of action since 2004’s dissemble Avengers event. Bringing the character firmly back into the 21st century Marvel Universe this book is bursting with great characterisation, action, intrigue and beautiful art by Olivier Coipel. Concerning itself with Thor’s attempt to resurrect Asgard on Earth it introduces new readers to the complexities of Thor’s world. Not only that but Loki is in full Machiavellian mode which is always a joy.
Thor: Son of Asgard
Akira Yoshida and Greg Tocchini’s series deals with a young Thor exploring his destiny. Think of it as a better version of Smallville (I suppose that is unfair but it works). A full on fantasy story, with Asgard as the backdrop to a teenage Thor’s antics.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger
Cancelled earlier this year just after eight issues, this superhero masterpiece from Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee is criminally overlooked. A critical hit this book provides a fun adventure/romance story set out of mainstream continuity and deals with Thor meeting Jane Foster. It captures a naiveté rarely found in modern comics and it is all the more refreshing for it.
The post was written by Daniel Cole – Writer, Film watcher, TV show & Comic Book lover who can be found on Twitter here.
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