It’s been a tough road for Thor since his return from Ragnarok. Not so much within his story but more the creative minds behind it. When Thor was rebooted, J. Michael “Hey let’s ruin Superman and Wonder Woman at the same time” Straczynski took over and the title started off really well. Then, over time, Straczynski began to lose his grip on the story and Kieron Gillen stepped in, rather unremarkably. Matt Fraction was next to tackle the thunder god and by the time his reign ended Thor was a mess. Loki was a little kid, Odin was a dick, and Thor had nothing to do but wander around. The entire series seemed to be headed for collapse so Marvel did what they love to do and rebooted it again.
Enter The Mighty Thor #1, which is less of a reboot and more of continuation under a new name and title. I’m not sure how to react to this first issue because it doesn’t really feel like anything new. It feels more like Marvel’s marketing team wanted to try and use the upcoming Thor movie to bring in new readers and figured that a comic in the six hundreds would scare them off, but a fresh, shiny issue #1 would make it all better. I hate to bring the party down, but any new reader will be just as lost as the rest of us as Thor continues to be a meandering mess.
Asgard, or what’s left of it, is still near the small town of Broxton, Oklahoma, allowing continuing writer Matt Fraction to open the issue with a preacher in a small church pontificating about the end of the world. Cue the Silver Surfer who, for the umpteenth time, runs down how he finds worlds for Galactus to eat. When we finally get to Asgard Thor and Sif are deep diving into a world connecting light in order to reach the base of Yggdrasil, the world tree, which was split during an earlier battle. After battling giant translucent worms, Thor is hurt and his wound doesn’t bleed as much as emits a bizarre light. Odin is around, too, and so is child Loki, who is still not to be trusted. Like I said, it’s a big mess.
The Mighty Thor #1 is hard to get excited about even though it is a decent issue. I say that because Thor seems to always begin well and then, fifteen or twenty issues in, the whole thing falls apart. Even if Fraction is able to clean Thor up and bring some cohesion to the story, nothing says The Mighty Thor won’t fall to ruin again within the next few years. In a bizarre way Thor has become Marvel’s Aquaman. A tremendous character with unlimited potential that keeps getting shortchanged by writers with some twisted need make the story overly complicated. Fraction’s idea to delve into world issues and the thoughts of man and his relationship to God fails in bringing the excitement of what Thor is to title. Why can’t anybody just allow these characters to get into adventures and thwart evil?
I also have to call into question where The Mighty Thor falls in the Fear Itself continuity. In Marvel’s latest event series Odin has ordered all the Gods back to their other world home and he’s dragged a chained and beaten Thor with him. The Mighty Thor #1 has Thor and Odin working together to solve the problem of Yggdrasil, with no mention of the Gods leaving. Is this all happening before Fear Itself? The Mighty Thor feels like it should have been released after Fear Itself ended, not before.
Oliver Coipel, the French artist who has drawn everything from X-Men to Legion Of Superheroes, does a great job with the pencils. I’ve always been a fan of Coipel’s re-imagined Thor as well as his ability to find movement and action that isn’t obvious on the page. The Mighty Thor #1 is a set up issue but Coipel’s art still pops off the page. I hope The Mighty Thor proves me wrong and that Marvel figures out how to tell stories of the Thunder God that aren’t as mired in self-aggrandizing pretensions.