The Tale of the God Butcher (Thor : God of Thunder 1 - 11)
Those that know me will not be surprised to hear I have certain leanings towards DC, as far as traditional superhero comics go. I personally do not subscribe to the nerd war that is Marvel vs DC. I read and enjoy both, because for me the only thing that counts is how good the individual comic is. Still I wanted to make an effort to read some more Marvel for a change as Rebirth has basically overtaken my entire comic intake at the moment and I am far less familiar with Marvel as a whole.
Thor as you all probably know is basically Wonder Woman in drag. Both are long haired god like beings. Both are warriors governed by honour. Both have links to a pantheon of gods and all their associated myths. Both are naive in many ways and draw comedy from their failing to fit in with others due to their cultural and warlike backgrounds. Both have magic weapons bestowed upon them. Both are symbols of the divine.... I could go on and on.
Anyway, lets not fight about that.
The point is I am a HUGE Wonder Woman fan. Not the Wonder Woman cursing around fighting street punks, but the Wonder Woman who traverses the heaves with the Gods themselves in stories that define the entire publisher's cosmos. So I sort out Thor under the supposition that "a good Thor story" may have some of the parts that I enjoy so much in a good Wonder Woman book... .. .
The Art is of supreme quality!
... .. .and I wasn't disappointed. Thor : God of Thunder is exactly the type of comic I adore. There is a abstraction to the story telling here that you rarely see in mainstream comics, let alone a comic for such a popular character. This is a tale that takes place outside of time and involves hardly any humans or even actual places. The story takes place in the realm of the Gods and upon alternative plains of existence, where a battle can last a thousand years destroying entire galaxies and the tears of an angle can turn a barren planet into an endless blue ocean.
The writers are entrusting this story to the reader. The reader has to take responsibility for the story to work, as the abstract nature of the events require imaginative effort form the them. We need to commit to the idea of the mythic quality that Jason Aaron is trying to infuse into the comic.
Accepting say that a ship's wake can form a ripple in reality that creates time itself and as it travels the outer dimensions it forms the universe . (That is not in the comic, but it is the kind of abstracted "myth" like tale that this comic is full of)
This is ambitious stuff.
The scale of the story is immense and this first part takes up eleven issues and a full year of publication time to tell. The basic structure of the tale is the conversion of three time periods. A young brash Thor of the past, the Thor of the present, as in the Marvel Avengers Thor everyone is most familiar with and the wizened weary Thor of the future.
This splitting of the character into three seams at first to be rather clunky, and even now I think that they could have done with just Old and Young, but a connection needed to be made to the current Marvel Universe. Still, as the story unveiled and it's scope started to be revealed, I understood that the time periods are vital to give the story the framing it requires to work at all. The three time periods act like markers allowing the reading to comprehend the millennial time scale of these battles and events that these immoral god-begins are involved in.
The story sets some lofty goals for itself which it fails to really reach. Ideas concerning the validity of the Gods existence and who depends on whom, or if mortals really need them at all are actually the topics that drive home to the very heart of humanity. It is not surprising that this comic can not even begin to tackle this subject in any substantive way. So very cleverly, I might add, it doesn't really try. All it needs is to focus on the motivations of the God Butcher himself who has rejected the Gods and is determined to free mortals from what he perceives as their childish whims. The book prods the read into considering these larger issue without ever really falling into the pit of attempting to actually tackle the existential deeper implications of the story. Then the reader can take on these ideas on themselves outside of the narrative leaving the comic itself uncluttered of having to directly address these heavy concepts.
This leads though to the largest problem this book has. The motivations of the God Butcher himself are explained in far to much detail. The comic is good. Better than good, it is really great, do not get me wrong. Yet it is this greatness that makes you spend so much of the comic expecting this amazingly interesting, and fulfilling reveal for the tale about who the God Butcher is and what his past and origin was.
This part of the book is a complete failure in my eyes. Not only is the motivations so mundane and obvious that you basically thought of it yourself long ago it is one of those cases that the solidification of the story destroys the readers own imaginings in such a way that the entire tale becomes less engrossing.
The fact is that when The God Butcher was an unknown mystery, almost a force of mortal will, the God Butcher could be anything. Like so many stories by explaining to much and in to much detail the comic removes the very mysteries and imaginative inspirations for the reader that makes this story so engrossing in the first place.
The Star Wars Prequels say "Hello".
This is probably the best comic I have read in about a year or so form Marvel. It is a must read. No doubt about it. The story actually has one of those epic moments that are so great you literally chuckle and tip your imaginary hat to the awesomeness of what you are reading. This is extremely rare and trust me you will know when you see the pages I am talking about. Epic is just not a big enough word.
This story is destine to be a classic.
The only question now as I absorb more Thor stories, is... Was this an anomaly? Will it be like Wonder Woman where there is a difference between this Thor and the Thor running around with the avengers? Will the scale drop to accommodate Stark and other mortals or will this book continue on as the Thor who can take a single step to cross the cosmos and can crack entire planets with his hammer.
VERDICT - Highly Recommended