on 17 September 2009
The artwork is spectacular ... Balder - a pure and noble knight - is cast in the visual mould of Richard the Lionheart. Odin is one-eyed, ram-helmeted, bear-skin clad and shamanic. The storm giants are blue-skinned and garlanded with fangs with tusks through their noses and horns dangling from their ear-lobes. Loki is an alluring, but intensly sinister, transexual and - the ultimate femme fatal - Hela - Goddess of death, is antler-headed and veiled in shadows...
The apocalyptic fall of the gods - 'Ragnarok' - has come and gone. A resurrected Asgard hovers above the Nevada desert. King Odin - trapped in the spirit world and watched over by the twin ravens of thought and memory - is locked in perpetual combat with Surtur, the fire demon. Thor, as Odin's successor, enters the spiritworld of the Odinsleep and therein learns of Odin's guilty secret - of how the throne was ursurped - and of King Bor's tragic curse. Meanwhile, Loki reveals a life-changing secret to Balder - a secret with far-reaching consequences for the throne of Asgard. The story then loops full-circle as Loki sets into sequence the whole cycle of destruction, ultimately toppling Thor from the throne.
A minor, but amusing subplot involves a developing 'courtship' between a modern mortal - the baseball-capped 'Bill' - and the olde world White Goddess Kelda. The story is also deftly interwoven into the mainframe Marvel universe - set during the first anniversary of Captain America's death, against the 'Dark Reign' backdrop.(Thor uses divine-power to communicate with Steve Roger's beyond the grave, whilst later on Osborn's 'Dark Avengers' make a very brief cameo appearance.)
(One minor nitpick is the portrayal of Jane Foster as a typically modern woman - ie hardened and career-driven, utterly devoid of any softness. There is a particularly superfluous, cliched scene in which she slaps Donald Blake across the face - as cliched as the obligitory nerd who turns out to be the real hero, or the bully/jock who turns out to be 'gay' etc - so twistedly 'political-correct' and contrived.) However, apart from this very minor nit-pick, this really is a work of exceptionally high calibre.
A true masterpiece. Can't wait for vol 3.
on 6 December 2010
These stories are equal or close to the greatest graphic novels ever produced. Sub-plots abound and just when you think you have some sort of handle on what's going on, Straczynski pulls the rug from under your feet once again.I've been reading THOR since his debut in Journey into Mystery #83 and never really tired of him, Asgard and supporting characters. Of course, you do wonder why Loki is allowed to continue his evil ways, but that's part of the cycle of destiny the norse gods have to put up with. Artwork is fantastic, and you won't beat this for value for money anywhere. You should, of course, get the companion volumes ( 1 and 3) along with this volume 2