This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on September 29, 2014.
I feel sorry for those who have denounced Thor and writer Jason Aaron due to the changes coming after the conclusion of Thor: God of Thunder. That series set a high bar for stories involving the Mighty Avenger; big action, nefarious villains, gorgeous art, and a surprisingly refined thematic sensibility could be found in every issue. The debut of the new series has received a lot of attention for the major changes it brings to the character and world of Asgardia, but I’m here to tell you that Thor #1 is every bit as good as what came before.
The biggest change between the two series is the shift in art. Russell Dauterman has taken the reins from Esad Ribic. It marks a drastic change in style, but Dauterman is absolutely up to the task of telling this epic tale. Fans of Cyclops will already be familiar with Dauterman’s style, others may find it to be a refreshing surprise. Whereas Ribic brought a European Heavy Metal quality to his work, Dauterman paints the vision of a gorgeous, modern day fairy tale. His forms are more animated in nature and eschew Ebic’s highly muscled, realist tendencies for a more magical take on the property.
There is a moment early in this issue where Dauterman hooked me on his visual aesthetic. A sequence of panels on page three puts the reader inside of a Roxxon facility, the final of which places them in the shoes of a Roxxon employee looking outward. The following two-page spread of what he sees is terrifying in its magnificence. Dauterman portrays ferocious figures from Norse mythology – massive and powerful – and you can feel the fear of the Roxxon peon looking up at them. For anyone skeptical about Thor #1, these will be the pages that sell you.
The change in pencilers also marks a change in colorists. Dean White suited Ribic’s style well with lush gradients and sharp, bright lines that made every page appear to be painted. Matthew Wilson supports Dauterman’s style just as well. He opts for a flatter coloring scheme that is dominated by bright colors. Even from a distance characters are easily recognizable by the shades that dominate their dress.
The constant in this transition is Jason Aaron. His scripting is as compelling as ever. The first issue of Thor: God of Thunder ended with a very big moment and here he concludes the second issue with two, both of which should leave fans’ jaws hanging. There is a hefty amount of exposition to be covered in the beginning of the issue, carrying over from bothOriginal Sin and Thor: God of Thunder. Aaron summarizes the big points with as much grace as possible and focuses on the story at hand.
Thor #1 continues Aaron’s central themes from the previous series, primarily focusing on the concept of worthiness. It is in the title of the issue itself: “If He Be Worthy”. Throughout the early exposition, various figures ponder the fate of Mjolnir and question why no one is able to lift the hammer. These questions form the central conflict of the story. The monstrous antagonists of the first few pages are not nearly as great of a challenge to Thor as his inability to list Mjolnir is. Where Aaron and his collaborators go from here will prove interesting. They have crafted a conflict that has the potential to reflect upon gender politics, redemption, and self-worth. Thor has a long way to go in providing answers and a thesis for these ideas.
Together, Dauterman, Wilson, and Aaron have crafted a first issue that ought to compel fans of Thor: God of Thunder to stick around and encourage others to try the new series. Thor #1is a beautiful debut that contains all of the thunder and power of Marvel’s mightiest hero.