It’s not that it isn’t well written, with poetry and action enough to outshine other runs on the character. And it definitely isn’t Esad Ribic’s spacious, ethereal artwork, which complements Thor gorgeously. It’s just that, well–this comic is somehow kinda boring.
When Marvel NOW! started, most of the relaunched titles provoked sheer wonder. Captain America, X-Men Legacy, and Young Avengers (to name a few) have creative dream teams that feel ecstatically-matched, flush with four-color-perfection. The writing strategy, especially for icons like Thor and Captain America, has been to place them in situations that exploit their finest traits. Cap, trapped for nearly a dozen issues in a hellish world ruled by evil scientist Arnim Zola, has become a beast of dogged resilience. Thor, facing the god-slayer Gorr (for nearly a dozen issues), hunts relentlessly alongside past and future versions of himself.
It’s really only the “nearly dozen issues” part that’s putting me to sleep. Why? Because it’s so clearly a strategy to net new readers. If you come across a Marvel NOW! title, for example, as a fan of Marvel’s films, you may find yourself in the middle of a bat-shit narrative where Wolverine is dressed as a clown, enslaved by an evil circus. That’s Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, a comic crammed with more fun, innovative ideas than ten other books.
But that story only took up a few issues. You might say, “This isn’t for me,” and move on, or, “This is cool, what’s next!” Results may vary. With Avengers icons, understandably, Marvel doesn’t want results to vary. They want to spread wide the net and leave it open as long as possible; the more new readers encountering Thor vs. Gorr, in any of the NINE issues they spend slicing into each other, the better.
Oh, well. I grumble as only a spoiled fanboy can. Thor: God of Thunder is a lovely comic, as Aaron’s own words prove: “The war faeries of Wendigorge, the nine guardians of the Hornwold. It’s said they lived in a palace with caramelized walls, in a valley where the skies rained milk and the trees oozed honey.”
His imagination–full of concepts so awesomely impractical that they approach dream logic–is irresistibly realized by artist Ribic. Cosmic tableaus and scuffling deities, emboldened with painterly color by Ive Svorcina, are mana for the eyes.
Want to know how this battle ends now? Crack open the 1999 story The Dark Gods, written by Dan Jurgens (Death of Superman) and drawn by John Romita Jr. (Daredevil: The Man Without Fear). Thor wins.