The covers: One for each letter in the title character’s name in this premiere issue of the “new” Thor. The Main cover is by Russell Dauterman & Frank Martin. It’s a bust shot of the new God of Thunder. She looks pretty cool: her blonde hair is swirling about her as lightning sparks, her eyes are entirely black, and her costume is, from what can be seen, heavily armored. This is the perfect introductory image to this version of Thor and the coloring bright and bold. The first Variant cover is by Fiona Staples with Thor completely seen as she smashes her hammer into a frost giant. This is a good action cover, but the coloring is just too dull. Brighter would have been much better. Skottie Young provides the next Variant. Li’l Thor has a huge smile on her face as she holds Mjolnir high above her head as she stands on a cliff. I can hear the thunder as the bolt of lighting hits the hammer. I’m not a fan of companies’ “Li’l” covers, but I like this. It’s cute and cool. The final Variant is by Andrew Robinson with a dark and moody Thor holding her hammer low as lightning hits it. Behind her is a city on earth in silhouette being hit by many lightning bolts. This is an unexpected choice for a first issue and it’s beautiful. This is the Thor that would frighten anyone. Overall grades: Main A+, Variant Staples B-, Variant Young A, and Variant Robinson A+
The story: I haven’t read a Thor comic book since the 1990s, so this was a very different experience for me. “If He Be Worthy” by Jason Aaron opens deep in the Norwegian Sea as a Roxxon submersible is looking for an anomaly that appeared on their base’s sensors. There is nothing to be found but the dark and some fish until a giant blue hand grabs them. With the submersible not responding, the base releases “attack sharks”: sharks that have been modified with cybernetics to be even more fearsome…Dr. Evil would be so proud. Suddenly all the fish, including the sharks, are swimming away from the base, which sends out a distress call believing to be under attack. Pages 4 and 5 are a double-paged spread without any text showing an army of frost giants running forward to destroy the base. After the obligatory, useless waste of a full page to give a summary (which is entirely unneeded, as the story covers all the same information) and give credits to contributors, the story moves to the Moon, where Thor is unable to lift Mjolnir. The Asgardians watch the sulking god try to lift his hammer. Odin, who has returned to rule Asgardia (there’s been a change), and Freyja, who is not happy to release rule to her husband, discuss what’s to come of their son. Actions are taken, words are spoken–some are muttered as asides, and it’s off to Midgard (Earth) to stop the frost giants. There’s a very cool villain in league with the giants, who quickly establishes himself as someone not to be trifled with. The intensity of this character is cranked up considerably from how I remember him. The dialogue from his character as he and Thor battle is fantastic. The disdain and malevolence just dripped from every sentence. Something really major happens to Thor and I am anxious to see what this means for him. And what of the “new” Thor? Don’t blink–She’s only on the last two pages, and she doesn’t speak. This was a tremendous let down. After all the media hype, I felt really played in this reveal. However, I did enjoy the story set on Midgard, and I do want to see how everything continues. You’ve hooked me, Mr. Aaron. Overall grade: A
The art: Beautiful artwork in this book comes from the incredibly talented Russell Dauterman. His visuals remind me of Charles Vess. Dauterman knows exactly how to create classic fantasy imagery, yet setting it in the modern age. The opening scenes in the Norwegian Sea smartly play up the darkness on this lone vessel. The reveal of the hand was great: reminiscent of the Enterprise being held by the hand of Apollo. Attack sharks were silly, but then there’s not much leeway the story gave him on those. Thankfully, they appear briefly and Pages 4 and 5 are a perfect jaw-dropping moment. The Asgardians on the moon look terrific. I completely believe that they are classic gods, and their dialogue only cements this assumption. Thor looks wonderfully lost as he tries to raise his hammer and each strain upon his muscles is like a tug on the reader’s heart. The bottom of Page 10 is a perfect low moment for Thor being cradled by Freyja. The close-up of Odin on the next page is gorgeous. And I should also mention how sweet the stars in the sky look during the moon scenes. They make the moment more magical. Back on Midgard, the arrival of the villain sets the story in a new direction and when Thor arrives the battle is aces. Pages 17 – 20 are fantastic. This is where fans really get their money’s worth in the details. The final two pages are okay, but just a tease. I love the artwork on this book. Overall grade: A+
The colors: Matthew Wilson also does a stellar job on this book. His coloring is really a showpiece in the opening dark water, and the arrival of the light blue hand is a great, thrilling moment. In fact, the frost giants steal every panel they’re in because of that cool, blue skin. It’s impossible not to focus on that shade. The surface of the moon is dull, as it should be, and even the Asgardians’ clothes are fairly mute, but this allows focus to be constantly thrown to Thor’s bright red cape that drapes his body. Excellent, sly way to make the lead an eye catcher. The battle scenes in the Roxxon base are beautifully colored, with magic and the water looking incredible. Wilson is bringing his A game. Overall grade: A+
The letters: Excellent scene settings, transmissions, dialogue, sound effects, Asgardian speak, crow speak, villain identification, and lots of yelling and screaming is provided by VC’s Joe Sabino. I really like the Asgardian font and the sounds on this book. Sound effects were always a highlight in my youth reading Marvel comics and I’m glad Sabino is keeping that love going. Overall grade: A
The final line: More He-Thor than She-Thor, but enjoyable enough to get me to return next month. Fun, fantasy heroics. Worth your time. Overall grade: A
Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.