She-Thor is a thing again

Thor_Shockedfemale_thor

One of the core superheroes of the Marvel Universe, the Mighty Thor is a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy. A god who lives among humanity as its protector, Thor has fought alongside the Avengers for many years and even sided against his fellow heroes when necessary (he had a bone or two to pick with Tony Stark during the Marvel Civil War). He is a formidable adversary to evil doers and a noble hero cut from a different cloth hearkening back to Norse Mythology… interpreted as an adventure comic.

Initially bound to the human physician Donald Blake, Thor has had many guises and was once even a member of something called the Thor Corps (no kidding). In Earth-X, Thor was tricked into female form by his half-brother, Loki. In a ‘What If? ‘ take readers were given a glimpse of Jane Foster as a female Thor and there is also Thor-Girl from recent years.

But when Whoopie Goldberg breaks comic book news, people notice.

Today, the talk show The View debuted the news that the God of Thunder will be undergoing a major change. The decision has been made to make the bearer of the mystical uru hammer Mjolnir will be female. The general consensus is that the traditional Thor will take another weapon, the axe called Jarnbjorn and continue to knock skulls throughout the Marvel Universe. Meanwhile a new Thor will be unveiled.

Members of the Marvel Comics Bullpen spoke to Time.com about the decision, the history of controversy in Thor comic books as well as the dedication to making this more than a gimmick.

TIME: Why make Thor a woman instead of creating a whole new female character in the series?

Wil Moss, Marvel Comics editor of the upcoming Thor series: We can’t give away all the story details now obviously, but once the story is out there, it becomes clear why there’s a new female Thor. It’s not about filling a certain quota. It’s about providing a shot in the arm to the Thor titles definitely, but it’s something that’s a natural part of where this story and the Thor title is going.

TIME: Has there ever been a female Thor before?

Moss: There have been occasional alternate universe stories where there have been female Thors. And there have been occasional stories where a female has picked up the hammer; like there’s an X-Menstory where Storm picked up the hammer. But there’s never been a female Thor.

Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief: She wields the hammer because Thor can’t. This is different because for reasons we can’t disclose quite yet, Thor is unable to pick up the hammer. There are a number of women in Thor’s life, and we’re going to tease out for quite awhile the identity of who this woman is. But one of the women in Thor’s life picks up the hammer. She is in fact worthy. And she becomes Thor.

There’s only one Thor in the Marvel Universe. The character we know as Thor will not refer to himself as Thor anymore.

TIME: How many times has the hammer changed hands?

Moss: For the majority of the character’s history with the company, it has been this Thor. There have been periods when other people have had the hammer. Most famously Beta Ray Bill picked up the hammer and was Thor for a while. But for the majority of the character’s whole history with us, it’s been the same character.

Alonso: There’s been plenty of moments also in Marvel history where characters have attempted to pick up the hammer. The Hulk, who is arguably the strongest character in the Marvel universe, has tried on numerous occasions and not been able to lift it. So it’s not a matter of how heavy it is but whether that character is worthy.

TIME: How do you think this will impact fans who have been following the male version of Thor for such a long time?

Jason Aaron, writer of the Thor series: If you’re a long-time Thor fan you know there’s kind of a tradition from time to time of somebody else picking up that hammer. Beta Ray Bill was a horse-faced alien guy who picked up the hammer. At one point Thor was a frog. So I think if we can accept Thor as a frog and a horse-faced alien, we should be able to accept a woman being able to pick up that hammer and wield it for a while, which surprisingly we’ve never really seen before.

Alonso: There really is this one Thor for an extended period of time for which we have no real exit plan.

Moss: The male Thor—he’s still going to be around. He’s still a character.

Aaron: I’ve been writing Thor: God of Thunder for about 25 issues now. This is in some ways a continuation of everything that I’ve been doing on that. We’re not throwing out everything that’s come before.

thor woman marvel 660TIME: There are a lot of female comic fans who are excited about this because they always love to see characters and superheroes who look like them. Is Marvel conscious of trying to engage with its female readership more?

Alonso: Yes, we absolutely are. We see fans of all shapes and sizes and genders in comic stores and at conventions. And we perceived there to be a real thirst for characters that reflect what we see in the mirror. From Miles Morales, the African-American Spider-Man, to the new female Thor, our goal is to make our characters reflect the outside world.

Right now we have eight titles that are anchored by female leads where it’s that character’s name on the masthead. We’re definitely committed to growing that audience.

Thoughts?

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Marvel Now! Thor: God of Thunder #1

Thor: God of Thunder #1

By Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic and Dean White

Thor, the god of thunder, a deity in a modern world fighting foes from the future, monsters from the center of the Earth and menaces from the stars with his mighty hammer Mjölnir. In a reality where mutants, super soldiers and radioactive creations rub shoulders, what can make a guy with a hammer interesting? Thor has long been the whipping boy of Marvel Comics, slapped around by Red Hulk, Sentry and the Phoenix, it seems that he exists merely to operate as a bench mark for threats. Back in the day, Thor served as a science fantasy hero, a bizarre mixture of mythology and superheroics through that unique Lee/Kirby vision. However, in the modern world Thor’s identity has been more difficult to define.

In recent years, Thor has been reinvented by several creators. The new series has been stunning, re-establishing the power level and grandeur of the Norse deity. However, the Marvel NOW! approach has been to mix up the status quot, offering readers a new vision of these celebrated characters.

Jason Aaron has earned acclaim for his work on Wolverine and the X-Men, but his run on the Incredible Hulk was anything but impressive. As such I was not sure what to expect for his take on Thor. As it happens, this could be the most interesting version of Thor that has been seen in some time.

The first issue is split into three distinct eras, Young Thor, Modern Thor and Old Thor. Modern Thor answers the prayers of an alien world only to find that their gods have been killed. Seeking out the answer to this mystery brings back an old thread from his past when Young Thor encountered Gorr the God Butcher. Modern Thor battles a deadly guard dog monstrosity in what has become a graveyard of alien gods. In the distant future, Old Thor faces a horde of these creatures alone.

The book is gorgeous, combining the fine line work of Esad Ribic with the wondrous colors of Dean White. The new Marvel books seem farm more polished visually than ever before and with added digital content accessible via the AR app, they give readers an incredibly sophisticated interactive experience.

I have been happy to see how far Thor has been brought over the past fiver years, and this latest version looks like a welcome extension of that high level of success. This is definitely a book that you should check out.

Thor: The Dark World first look

Here’s the first glimpse of the villain Malekith and his army of dark elves from Thor: The Dark World comes via SuperHeroHype:

Tom Hiddleston is the bad boy of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He’s appeared as the antagonist Loki in two of the films in the series and is currently filming his third appearance as the character in Thor: The Dark World. Even though he appears as the mischievous Loki in the sequel he’s not the main ‘big bad’ for the sequel. Christopher Eccleston joins the film as Malekith the Accursed and you can now see the first photos of the character –

Melekith from Thor: The Dark World

Hiddleston also spoke with GQ about the upcoming film and the pressure on the sequel because of this summer’s The Avengers.

“It’s mostly self-applied pressure actually. I remember Chris [Hemsworth] and I saying over the summer when Avengers came out, where do we go now? Going into this one we were – very flatteringly – involved in big creative conversations about tone, and story. Thor and Loki are these two characters that people know and love and understand – so we have to take this in the right direction. You want to do something new – you don’t want to re-heat the same recipe in the microwave, you want to cook up something different and exciting – but you don’t want to lose the things that worked the first time. So we’re our own slave drivers, in a way. Complacency is the enemy. But that’s exciting and it’s going well. I have never seen a group of actors or a crew work harder.”

GQ then asked how much influennce The Avengers has had on the sequel, specifically will we get a reference to the Hulk smashing Loki?

“Yeah! [laughs] He’s certainly eaten humble pie. The springboard for us in the second Thor film is at the end of Avengers you see Thor and Loki beamed up back to Asgard. The first question that we all asked was ‘what happens next? What does Odin have to say about the events of Avengers?’ ‘What’s Jane Foster been up to while she wasn’t involved?’ It’s really exciting, actually. We’re literally half way through – we started at the start of August and we should be finished by Christmas. It’s going beautifully.”

In Thor: The Dark World, Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Idris Elba, Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Ray Stevenson, Zachary Levi, Tadanobu Asano and Jaimie Alexander with Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, the film is set for release on November 8, 2013.

 

An army of dark elves

Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston to star in Thor: The Dark World

This is the sound of two fan bases clapping. The first of the 21st Century Doctor Who actors, Christopher Eccleston, has joined the cast of Thor 2: The Dark World. Playing the malevolent elfen lord Malekith, Eccleston will bring an edge of darkness to the Asgardian’s world of light adventure.

The Thor sequel, Thor: The Dark World, officially has its villain with former Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston.

The Ninth Doctor – Chris Eccleston

Deadline has the news that Christopher Eccleston will be playing Malekith The Accursed.

With the announcement that Malekith The Accursed is the villain, we now have confirmation that Thor: The Dark World will feature the Dark Elves as thought.

Previously, set descriptions and information clued in on the fact that the Dark Elves would play a major role in the sequel, with one report describing a major battle between races and a comic book hero dropping in to make the save.

Christopher Eccleston played the new Doctor Who for one season when the show rebooted in 2005 and has since gone on to have roles in Heroes as well as G.I. Joe.

Thor: The Dark World hammers into theaters November 8th, 2013 directed by Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones), starring Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Idris Elba as Heimidall, Zachary Levi as Fandral and Jaimie Alexander as Sif.

Via CosmicBookNews

Captain America: Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World, Ant Man revealed at SDCC

Captain America director Joe Johnston’s Winter Soldier story continues without him, Thor enters ‘the dark world’ and the Edgar Wright Ant Man movie, rumored for almost a decade, is close to becoming a reality! All this plus a look at the line-up for the Guardians of the Galaxy film.

Late breaking news from the Marvel Entertainment panel at CCI yesterday…

Via Hollywood Reporter:

If there’s two things Marvel Studios lives by, it’s putting on a show and knowing its audience.

The company behind the biggest movie of the year and the third biggest movie of all time, started off by making a reel tying the success of its movies to Hall H, Comic-Con and fandom. “In this room” read one frame, cannily tethering the company to the crowd assembled, and “thank you” read another before finally proclaiming “Phase Two Begins…” and then simply “Now.”

Guardians of the Galaxy concept art

Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige also knows the audience is hungry not only for footage, but for actual news, so he revealed the full titles of the sequels to Thor and Captain America (Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: Winter Soldier) plus unveiled the characters who would be in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.

Captain America versus former ally Bucky, now the Winter Soldier

The Thor sequel is scheduled for release on Nov. 18, 2013 followed by the Captain America sequel on April 4, 2014.

Then Edgar Wright made a surprise appearance and showed off test footage, unfinished, of his long and still-in-development Ant-Man movie.

Hank Pym- the original Ant Man

Perhaps the topper was introducing Iron Man 3 by having Robert Downey Jr. appear unexpectedly in the back of Hall H, then to the tune of a Luther Vandross song, skip to the front of the hall and onto the stage, with occasional stops with fans along the way.

The goodwill generated was off the charts.

And it’s some goodwill that Marvel, despite Avengers’ success, actually needs to a certain extent. While Iron Man 3 will no doubt be a success, there was some bitter after-taste among the studio’s fanbase after the lackluster Iron Man 2, and the fact that after helming the first two installments, Jon Favreau wasn’t returning to direct the third. (Those duties were handed off to Shane Black, who directed Downey on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.)

The gang assembled sold the new movie as a return to the roots of the Tony Stark character. Downey painted a picture that Black had always been involved, at least tangentially, with the Iron Man series.

He said Marvel execs watching Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was his “screen test before the screen test” and that even when making the first two films, if they had some issues, a call to Black wasn’t out of order.

Favreau, meanwhile, made it clear that even though he wasn’t directing Iron Man 3, he was cool with his role as an actor and executive producer.

“Shane made me feel very, very comfortable. As did Kevin and Robert,” Favreau said. “As far as executive producing, as opposed to directing, I feel like a proud grandfather who doesn’t have to change the diaper but gets to play with the baby.”
Iron Man 3 armor from the floor of CCI and more

Black too was on point, saying “We have Favreau. He’s back as an actor. I get to talk to him all day long…This is the same Iron Man you’ve always liked.”

How much of that subtext the crowd got is hard to tell since they were having too much fun with Downey and the gang riffing.

And of course, Marvel trotted out footage from the still in-production movie, which was not surprisingly well-received by the already primed audience.

Quick reviews: Thor, Iron Man, Hulk

The Mighty Thor #9

By Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry
Thor is dead.

Despite his father Odin’s attempts to prevent it, the thunder god has met his end at the hands of the Serpent. So why does no one remember him? What’s more, who is Tanarus, the stand-in Thor whom even the Avengers seem to accept into their ranks? To Loki’s annoyance, he is the only one to not accept Tanarus as his brother, but he can’t figure out why.

In recent months Marvel Comics has taken the concept of death in comics and put a new spin on it. Previously characters were killed to the anger of fans then revived to an even greater expression of spite. With the death and revival of Johnny Storm, Bucky and Thor, however, there’s a new spin. In the case of Thor, he is not only gone, but replaced by a pretender that everyone seems to accept on the spot. It’s very clever and dodges the bullet of spending months moaning the loss of a great hero.

Of course Tanarus is actually Ulik, the enemy of Thor, who is enshrouded by a mystical spell that effects the memories and perceptions of others. Part of a plot to infiltrate and destroy the new Asgardian rule in Odin’s absence, Ulik plays the hero to the pantheon of gods and to the world below. When I first saw Tanarus in the solicitations, I was understandably confused. Now that I back-tracked and read Fear Itself 1.2: Thor, I understand.

While Ulik lives Thor’s life in Asgard, the real Thor is elsewhere, weakened and in the company of other gods waiting to be devoured by the God-Eater (see Chaos War).

Determined to figure out why he cannot accept Tanarus, Loki visits Donald Blake who is back to living the life of a general medical practitioner in NYC. In a huff, he storms out of Blake’s office, stealing the doctor’s walking stick as well. Searching for clues, he finds the Silver Surfer lying on his back in the desert, allowing himself to be devoured by vultures… some people get kicks in the weirdest of ways. The Surfer recognizes the stick for what it is and strikes it on the ground, transforming it into Mjölnir.

Thor has been a knock-out series for years now and continues to be a great read month to month. The artwork is exceptional and the bizarre mixture of drama, sci-fi, fantasy and comedy is so unique that I doubt I’ll ever get bored reading it. With all of the ‘event fatigue’ going on in the comic book world right now, this remains a solid series and I heartily recommend it.

The Invincible Iron Man #510

By Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca
Another Marvel Comics icon to go through a remarkable turn of events, transforming what was honestly a dull as dishwater character into a must-read hero is Iron Man. Warren Ellis laid the ground work, the Knauf brothers put down the structure and Matt Fraction has taken the hard work of his predecessors to make Iron Man into the heavy hitter that he was intended to be way back in the day.

Like several other Marvel Comics, Iron Man is set in the wake of Fear Itself where the combined might of all the world’s heroes battled with the mystical threat of the Serpent and the mechanized might of the Red Skull’s army. It took a massive toll on the population of the world and while the heroes ultimately succeeded, it wasn’t without leaving plenty of scars. In Tony Stark’s case he not only conceded that faith was greater than reason but also cashed in his sobriety chip and fell off the wagon.

I’m very impressed how Fraction has chosen to get Tony out of the hole that he’s fallen in. Rather than wallow in self-pity and remorse over his mistake, Stark simply declares it a new day and starts over. Falling out of sobriety may only take one drink but the road back starts with each minute, hour and day he is not drinking. It’s a testament to his strength of character and also speaks to Fraction’s understanding of Iron Man (as shown in the remarkable Point One issue that received rave reviews).

His company Stark Resilient is a shambles, but Tony refuses to go down without a fight… which is fortunate because a fight comes looking for him. The Mandarin is pulling strings in the background of a master plan to destroy his hated enemy and employs the Living Laser to make the first strike. The battle is fierce (and thanks to LaRocca’s artwork amazing) and deeply shatters Stark’s resolve in the face of the public.

Like Thor, I continue to be impressed by this series and doubt I will ever tire of reading it. Some find that not enough happens in a single issue to warrant such glowing praise but I am all for the episodic format that this comic embraces. An excellent blend of action and drama, Iron Man is worthy of being one corner of Marvel’s tent-pole of monthly mega-stars.

Hulk #46

By Jeff Parker and Patrick Zircher

With the loss of Greg Pak as writer of Incredible Hulk and the absurdly poor new ongoing replacement series, the (Red) Hulk has taken up the mantle of the proper Hulk title, even if his color is wrong.

For years, the formula for Hulk comics was rather simple. He just wants to be left alone, he’s friendless and on the run, he encounters an obstacle and carnage ensues. I’m being old-fashioned but I think that the book succeeds best when this formula is honored and I firmly state that it is the secret to Jeff Parker’s Hulk series being as great as it is.

Instead of Banner, we have General Ross as the tortured and lost soul, forever alone and on the run, but in his case Ross is so stoic and stubborn that he can’t admit any of this to himself. Too dangerous to be forgotten and too unreliable to be trusted, Ross is taken in by Steve Rogers and placed on a series of missions to disarm the devious plots of the Intelligencia.

Most recently, Ross has found himself a new enemy in General Fortean, an old army friend from back in the day. Ironically Fortean believes that the Red Hulk is responsible for the death of his dear friend General Ross and is dead set on revenge.

Life’s weird.

While living a relatively quiet life of solitude, Ross learns that another old friend from his military past has died in the middle east at the hands of Dagan Shah, a super-powered warlord who is building a new power base. Rogers attempts to stop Ross with the help of the Secret Avengers but in the end realizes that Ross will not stop no matter who is telling him to. So he sends the Red Hulk back in with Machine Man as an escort.

The conclusion of the Hulk of Arabia honestly couldn’t come soon enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent adventure with strong characters, a new villain and outstanding artwork but the pacing seemed unusually slow and awkward somehow. The story feels drawn out and could probably have been wrapped up in four rather than five parts (perhaps cutting out the unnecessary Secret Avengers fight). As a new villain, Dagan Shah is a powerful threat but rather two-dimensional in the end and difficult to get all that invested in as a reader.

The addition of Machine Man was an inspired decision, but I was confused by his behavior as he seemed unusually restrained and quiet. Where was the beer-swilling character who called humans ‘met bags’ in Fred Van Lente’s Marvel Zombies series?

The Red Hulk book is outstanding and should be forced under the nose of anyone ever dreaming of writing the Hulk.  I know that there’s a lot of resistance to the Red Hulk as he was forced on readers unnecessarily, but in my opinion those fans should just reverse the colors in their heads and see that this is the Hulk done right.

Next time, I dip back into the DC Comics pile with Animal Man, Thunder Agents and Batman. 

Thor strikes onto DVD 13th of September

The fourth official film from Marvel Entertainment, the Mighty Thor was a visually brilliant experience that is sure to impress at home. In particular, the Bifrost Bridge and the assault of Jotunheim should look especially nice ion Blu-ray.

There have been rumors of short films being tacked onto the Thor and Captain America DVD releases, but there is no mention in the press release. However, an early glimpse of the Avengers movie should sate the many Marvelites out there until the Summer of 2012.
Official press release info below (via Marvel.com):

From Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures comes a unique and compelling twist on the Super Hero genre with the out-of-this-world warrior “Thor,” debuting on high definition Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD September 13, 2011.

Called “spectacular” (USA Today), “thrilling, entertaining and cool” (Ain’t It Cool News) the phenomenal screen debut of the legendary God of Thunder took audiences by storm, earning more than $440 million at the global box office. When the arrogant god is banished to Earth from his home world, Asgard, and then pursued by the darkest forces of Asgard, he must learn what it takes to become a true hero in this exhilarating story that “delivers epic fireworks” (Rolling Stone). Featuring an all-star cast including Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, stunning visual effects and explosive action sequences, “Thor” wields outstanding entertainment that the whole family can enjoy.

“Thor” Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack box art The “Thor” three-disc set includes the film on Blu-ray in high-definition 3D and on high definition 2D, as well as on standard definition DVD with a digital copy. The two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo pack includes a high definition presentation of the film, plus a standard definition presentation with a digital copy. Both sets come fully loaded with 80 minutes of immersive bonus materials including an exclusive special feature that goes deeper into the Marvel Universe, a sneak peek into “Marvel’s The Avengers,” an unprecedented look inside the world of director Kenneth Branagh and much more.

“Thor” Blu-ray and DVD specs
The “Thor” Blu-ray Discs are presented in 1080p high definition with English 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital and English Audio Description with English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The DVD is presented in widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs with English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround and English, French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles. The digital copy is presented with an English Audio track. “Thor” will also be available as a single-disc DVD.

Marvel Studios expands its film universe with a new type of Super Hero: Thor. This epic adventure spans the Marvel Universe, from present day Earth to the realm of Asgard. At the center of the story is the Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. Thor is cast down to Earth and forced to live among humans as punishment. Once here, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero when the most dangerous villain of his world sends the darkest forces of Asgard to invade Earth. Directed by Kenneth Branagh and produced by Kevin Feige, with Alan Fine, Stan Lee, David Maisel, Patricia Whitcher and Louis D’Esposito serving as executive producers from a screenplay by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz and Don Payne and a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich, this fantasy epic stars Australian actor Chris Hemsworth as the god of thunder, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster, a young woman who befriends Thor on Earth, Tom Hiddleston as Thor’s evil brother Loki, with Rene Russo as Frigga, the wife of Odin, mother to Thor and Loki, and Anthony Hopkins as Odin, Thor’s father and king of Asgard. Expect to see agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., previously seen in the Iron Man movies, foreshadowing the coming of “Marvel’s The Avengers”! Thor was released by Paramount Pictures on May 6, 2011.

Quick review: The Mighty Thor #1 and Journey Into Mystery #622

The Mighty Thor #1


By Matt Fraction and Oliver Coipel
After the wrap up of the previous Thor series comes a new one, however it is essentially a continuation of the previous run, continuing the story lines and themes explored by Matt Fraction and Pascal Ferry. I’m certainly sad to see Ferry go as he brought a certain science fiction space opera/fantasy element to the comic, but Coipel is a welcome addition to the legacy of great Thor artists (such as Walt Simonson featured on the variant cover to this first issue).

When we last saw Thor he was battling a new enemy that threatened all of the denizens of the nine realms. The situation proved so dire that the hammer-swinging Avenger thought it wise to revive his father, bringing Odin back from Valhalla and into the world of the living. The Allfather was hardly happy with the action, yet his garrulous attitude proved necessary to not only unite the Asgardians with the refugees of the other realms but also to face the World Eaters, daring to use ancient magics not seen in generations. Even this failed to stop the World Eaters, however, and in the end Thor was forced to cut the Yggdrasil at its root, this severing the Great Ash Tree and removing the danger that the carnivorous creatures posed.

The new series picks up directly after the events of the World Eaters story as Thor and Lady Sif travel into the pool of light spilling forth from the severed roots of Yggdrasil. Dressed in space-age diving suits, the gods are met with bizarre bug-like creatures that seek to defend the seed once planted at the dawn of time. Loki descends just in time to lend a hand as the warriors are overcome by opposition. Yet when Thor reclaims the seed and returns it to Odin, he knows that all is not well. His wounds glow with an otherworldly quality that unsettles him and moreso, he feels unease by his father’s side.

While Odin gives Thor an almighty strike across the face and departs for realms unknown (in the pages of this comic in any case), the Silver Surfer awakens his master Galactus to feed on a new source of life, the open stream of energy coming from the wounded Yggdrasil.

As far as first issues go, this is a bit of a hard read. I’m interested to see where the events go from here, but the comic is so steeped in backstory and plot threads from the ‘Fear Itself’ event that it feels like the middle bit of a larger tale. As this issue was the major Thor comic on the shelves the same week that the thunder god’s feature film debut was on the screens, I thought it made for an inferior introduction to the character that would fail to retain any new readers who may have gotten caught up in the excitement over this Avenger.

The story by Matt Fraction continues to be a blend of sci-fi and fantasy and I approve of this approach as it makes the ‘Thorverse’ an interesting and unique place to visit. Not as slick and dynamic as Pascal Ferry, Coipel’s art is nonetheless distinctive and sharp, adding character and depth to his faces and figures. I especially enjoyed his depictions of Galactus and the Silver Surfer, who both looked especially cosmic on the page.

Journey Into Mystery #622


By Kieron Gillan and Doug Braithwaite
Released the same week as the new Mighty Thor series is an accompanying series, Journey Into Mystery. Taking its name from the comic that spawned the thunder god, JiM centers instead on the god of mischief Loki. Written by Kieron Gillan (who I had praised for his work on Thor that preceded the Matt Fraction run) and drawn by Doug Braithwaite (of Universe X and Brave and the Bold fame), the comic is very unusual as it focuses on a character that is basically the most evil man alive (except for maybe Doctor Doom).

Like Mighty Thor, Journey into Mystery relies heavily on back story. Unlike the Mighty Thor, JiM easily uses this reliance on past material as a strength rather than a detriment. When we had last seen in the pages of Siege, Loki stunned everyone by sacrificing himself in battle against the Sentry. As his actions had largely led to the destruction of Asgard, one would think that this was a minor feat until one considered that Loki only ever acts in his own interest. Readers of the ongoing Thor series and the Siege tie-in would have noticed that the god of mischief had laid a careful plan involving his demise, ensuring that he would not meet the end that many had expected.

When Thor found himself in the shattered remains of Asgard, he strangely longed for the company of his brother, thinking back to their childhood days when they were both innocent (or as innocent as gods can be). Resurrecting Loki into the form of a young boy, Thor accompanied his brother back to Asgard much to the disapproval of the assembled pantheon. Hardly the mischievous and deadly manipulator he was remembered for being, Loki as a youngster was almost cute and appealing. The new series sees a further development of that character into what promises to be a very important part of both Thor’s world and the Marvel Universe as a whole.

Gillan’s writing is both lofty and sentimental all at once, with a deft hand that touches upon the grandness and rich history of mythology while providing an intimate look at a very believable character in Loki. His writing reminds me of the glory days of Mike Carey when he was working on Lucifer. Braithwaite remains one of the most wonderful talents in comics. His line work is so refined and powerful that the first time you encounter his work you are left wondering why you hadn’t heard of him before (he also penciled the Thor Secret Invasion mini-series in case you are interested). The combined talents of these two men make the new ‘sister series’ for Thor a marvel to behold (if you excuse the term).

After a long and complicated journey collecting clues, young Loki comes face to face with a ghostly image of his former older self who explains why he engineered his own death. It’s chilling and brilliant at the same time and indicates an inspiration in placing Gillan in the driving seat of this new series. Journey into Mystery provides the first chapter in the new story of Loki and it looks like it will be an interesting one indeed that will no doubt be full of surprises. Regardless of your opinion of Thor or superhero comics in general, I highly recommend giving this comic a look. It’s a real winner.

Thor- The Mighty Avenger (review)


Once ethereal powerful beings walked amongst mankind and battled forces of darkness with the fate of humanity hanging in the balance. After several battles, Odin the All Father defeated Laufey and his forces into submission, earning an uneasy truce with the Frost Giants of Jotunheim that has held for generations. Thor, an overzealous young god seized by hubris and tricked by his half-brother Loki strikes out at the Frost Giants and re-ignites an ancient war, putting into motion a dangerous series of events that could shatter the delicate balance of power that holds the nine realms in check. Exiled to Earth, Thor must learn humility to be worthy of the power he so brazenly wielded in battle. But while Thor is exploring the realm of earthly realm of Midgard Loki schemes to control all.

The fourth feature film of Marvel Studios, Thor- The Mighty Avenger had the biggest challenge. Whereas both Iron Man and the Hulk were based in reality, Thor is an entirely fantastical character steeped in mythology. An ambitious film to say the least, it fell to Shakespearean director Kenneth Brannagh to shape the comic book into the blockbuster Summer film that the studio needed without losing any of the soul that was inherent in the source material and the many comics based on the Marvel hero.

This was the movie I was most worried about.

Initially, the word on the street was that the entire movie would be set in Asgard and be like a Lord of the Rings epic with superheroes, ending on Earth (presumably in the streets of New York City where all of Marvel’s superheroes dwell). I thought this was a wise maneuver and played to the strengths of the comic book as his adventures always worked best for me when Thor was fighting fantastical foes on other realms of reality.

When the decision came to ground a portion of the movie on Earth as Thor learns the lesson of humility through Jane Foster I was worried… very worried. The trailers showing the thunder god getting tazed and discovering coffee smacked of Crocodile Dundee mixed with Masters of the Universe. The absurdity of a mythological hero in the ‘pedestrian world of mankind’ is a very tired and campy concept that would only harm the integrity of the character that desperately needed to be taken seriously.

The opening sequence depicts Jane Foster chasing an anomaly in the deserts of New Mexico that she theorizes is an Eisenberg Bridge to other worlds. Along for the ride is physicist Erik Selvig and wise cracking intern Darcy. Apparently the anomaly has been recurring and Foster has built up a study that revealed a pattern. What she hopes to encounter is unclear but when a whirlwind splits the heavens apart, she drives her SUV straight into it… for some unclear reason… and strikes Thor just as he is reaching Earth.

Let me state right here that in the comic book Jane Foster was a lovelorn nurse who doted on Doctor Donald Blake, a lame physician who found a gnarled walking stick in a cave that, when struck to the ground, transformed him into the Mighty Thor. Many of the ideas behind the comic changed over time so it comes as no big surprise that Jane Foster’s character would change as well but changing her from a nurse to a physicist seems like a massive leap from the idea behind the character in the first place. It’s one of the two problems that I have with the movie… the other being Darcy played by the deadpan comic ‘actress’ Kat Dennings.

Every comic line spoken by Dennings falls like a lead weight, driving the movie to a dead halt. Her hipster speak is painfully topical as she mourns the loss of her iPod amongst items seized by SHIELD and posts pictures of Thor to her facebook account (why?? Thor is just smiling in the image). These are ideas that instantly date the movie and, mark my words, will not age well.

Thankfully, before the New Mexico portion of the story can get into full swing we are treated to the grandeur that is Asgard. During a coronation ceremony, the weapons vault of Asgard is broken into by Frost Giants who seek to seize an artifact of supreme power. Thor is anxious to meet the affront by taking an armed force to Jotunheim and striking back at Laufey. Odin understands that this is a foolhardy path that would undo the long hard work that has led to peace. In the end, Thor’s brash pride, tempered by Loki’s sweet words of influence, drive him to the Bifrost bridge.

Accompanied by the amazonian weapons master Lady Sif (acted by Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three (Hogun- played by Tadanobu Asano, Volstagg- embodied by former Rome and Punisher War Zone star Ray Stevenson and Fandral -a kind of Douglas Fairbanks-type played by Joshua Dallas), Thor and Loki traverse the mind-blowing rainbow bridge to Jotunheim and carnage ensues.

The level of cosmic violence (depicted successfully by so very artists on the page) was a key component to the success of the Thor film. Thor is immensely powerful… Superman-level powerful (if not moreso). The digital effects exist to portray this level of power, but as we have seen countless times and in recent comic book -inspired films, it can be overdone. In the case of Thor, it was done just right.

A cursory glance at the Thor comic book pages drawn by Kirby, Buscema, or Simonson (to name just a few) reveal that the action sequences demanded of the hammer god are big and epic… but in a very specific way. There is a visual language to comic book action. It is a difficult matter to translate such material to the big screen and while corners can be cut for some superheroes, the style of the visuals is a very essential component to any Marvel comic book.


As the battle heats up, it becomes clear that Thor cannot hope to destroy all of the Frost Giants (though a death in such an attempt would be a worthy end for such a lusty warrior as he). His friends slowly realize the trouble that they are in and that Thor is hardly afraid, daring oblivion with a hearty sneer. It is only the intercession of the All Father Odin that saves their lives and transports the Asgardians back home where Thor makes a magnificent mistake. Calling his father an old fool, he shows the severity of his impetuousness, causing Odin to strip him of his power and earning him a harsh exile to Midgard, the realm known as Earth.

In the comic book, Thor is predominantly a rather stoic character, given to long silences and even longer declarations of strength and valor. The film version is of course quite different. The movie Thor is an impudent child, living a life of privilege with no understanding of the consequences of his actions or the responsibility that his position holds as a son of Odin. The path that he must follow leading to wisdom is a long and arduous one fret with supporting characters, a back-story involving SHIELD, the aforementioned ‘stranger in a strange land’ comedic scenes and the inevitable love story with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster.

Somehow… it all works and it is due to a sharp script, keen direction and the inspired casting of relatively unknown Chris Hemsworth as Thor. He embodies a vast pallet of characteristics and emotions ranging from obnoxious loutishness to serene nobility. It perfectly portrays a rich character that is very new to moviegoers who are no doubt sick of the tragic hero or feckless geniuses that they have seen. This is a very different Thor than fans are used to, but he measures up to the task and conquers the audience with his charm and sheer power.

Additionally, it must be said that Shakespearean actor Tom Hiddleston is absolutely lovely as the malicious Loki. His performance captures the malevolence but also the painful emotional scars that drive him to causing mischief. I look forward to seeing more of him in the Avengers film released in the jam-packed summer of 2012. While I was dismayed to learn that Flash Gordon alum Brian Blessed was dropped from the cast as Odin and replaced by Sir Anthony Hopkins, I can now say that I understand the recasting. Hopkins possesses a bravado and gigantic presence that is matched by his tender moments of sincerity and kindness. Hopkins’ moments in the film are reserved and used wisely.

As a fan of comic book and science fiction films, I am more than familiar with big explosions, slow motion reactions and shock waves of power that rock across the screen. However, the Thor movie actually places the characters within these moments rather than making them subject to the effects. When Thor swings his hammer, drawing up a whirlwind to tackle the Destroyer, it is an epic event. Likewise when he battles Loki in mortal combat, it is balletic in form and execution. The action scenes seem new and engaging and also convey that viewers are witnessing a fantastical display of wrath unlike anything they have ever witnessed. This is also supported in the story of brother against brother and son against father, etc. All of the many pieces are arranged wonderfully to build a complete picture.

Thor battles Loki in this feature film concept image

Thor The Mighty Avenger isn’t without its flaws. As many have already pointed out, the movie is very long. Also, there’s the Kat Dennings moments that draw the viewer directly out of the fantasy that Brannagh is attempting to create and the Jane Foster storyline that never really comes together. Luckily the romance is very believable as Thor is a passionate being and becoming aware of the wondrous universe he is a part of. The scenes in which Thor explains the structure of Yggdrasil, the Ash Tree are touching as is Thor’s noble manner of kissing Jane’s hand rather than presuming to kiss her on the lips. It’s little things like this that allow Thor as a character and a film to stand out in the superhero movie genre that many have found to be predictable and tired. There’s actually a lot that is new here and it is very welcome indeed.

The script by Mark Protosevich was punched up by fan favorite author J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5 and the recent Thor comic book). Much like the early Lee/Kirby comics it portrays a magical realm of monsters and mystics, populating cities that defy the imagination. It’s an inspired script that is influenced by the comic book universe while building its own mythology at the same time.

jeremy-renner-hawkeye

Actor Jeremy Renner and Hawkeye drawn by Oliver Copiel

The slick inclusion of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye the archer was very well executed, but the post-credit appearance of Sam Jackson as Nick Fury was hardly exciting. To be honest, I’m already bored with this Shaft-take on the character. For anyone that stays for the duration and is perplexed by the post-credit sequence, rest assured that it will make sense when Captain America is released and another piece in the multi-movie puzzle is added.

A magical and epic movie that has equal elements of humanity and fantasy along with otherworldly visuals that will stand out against what has come before, Thor The Mighty Avenger is a vastly enjoyable movie that comes highly recommended.

If you enjoyed the film and are looking for some comic book suggestions, please consider the following…

Recommended reading:

The Mighty Thor, Vol. 1

Thor: Tales of Asgard

Thor: Ragnarok

Avengers Disassembled: Thor

Thor: Ages of Thunder

Thor Omnibus

Thor: Tales of Asgard

Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus

Thorsday Madness!

One of the cornerstones of the Marvel Universe, it has to be said that the mighty Thor gets very little respect. Hulk is the mightiest, Spider-Man the nimblest and Captain America the bravest but… Thor is a GOD. Devised by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby to tap into mythology as a quick way to make use of ready made (and free to the public) creations, Thor was an opportunity for Stan to stretch his creative muscles in new directions. Lofty dialog and explosive cliffhangers beset a noble yet somewhat vain hero who was ordered by his father Odi to learn humility in the realm of mortals. Kirby delivered the goods in kind with mind-blowing architecture, horrific monsters and the most bizarre way of flying ever seen in comics, throwing a hammer as hard as he could and hanging on.

Thor battles Loki in this feature film concept image

This Summer Thor will be introduced to a new audience in a big budget movie directed by Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh, starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins, the movie is the latest in a long line of expensive gambles on Marvel’s behalf to solidify themselves as the House of Ideas on the big screen. The script by J. Michael Straczynski (popular for Babylon 5 and his recent run on Thor), the story will retell the story of a brash and impatient son rebelling against his father. Exiled to Earth to learn his lesson, Asgard is besieged just when they need Thor the most.

I’m hoping that this movie is a hit if only for my boss Eric’s sake. He’s the biggest Thor fan around and there will be thunder over Jotunheim if this flick is a flop!

To ramp up the excitement there are several tie-ins for the Mighty Thor, so I thought I’d write about a few of them here.

Next month, the animated direct-to-DVD film Thor: Tales of Asgard will finally hit the shelves. Marvel Entertainment’s latest animated venture, it arrives long after Planet Hulk which won wild acclaim from fans but was released so long ago that it can easily be forgotten. Given that Warner Brothers has released several top notch animated features in the duration, expectations are rather high for Tales of Asgard. As it features a young version of our hero… many are waiting to be disappointed.

Young Thor, determined to experience adventure, drags his devious half-brother Loki on a journey along with the Warriors Three on a quest for the Lost Sword of Surtur. I agree that it all looks very child-friendly and Disney-fied (even though this has been in development long before the Disney buy-out), but I have to point out that the writer Greg Johnson who has worked on Wolverine and the X-Men and the Planet Hulk DVD film, both of which are stand out successes for Marvel. The animated movie is also loosely based on the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby back-up stories that ran in early Journey into Mystery comics back in the day. So before you discount this one on the basis of it being the ‘adventures of Thor Junior,’ you may want to give it a second look.

 

Pre-order Thor: Tales of Asgard on DVD

Thor: Tales of Asgard has a May 17, 2011 street date.

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Bonus- trailer for Thor: God of Thunder next gen videogame

Also, arriving in stores on May 3rd, 2011 is Thor: God of Thunder, the long-awaited next-gen videogame, just in time for the feature film. Like many tie-in games, God of Thunder isn’t an adaptation of the movie but more of a companion piece set in the same universe, much like the Iron Man and upcoming Captain America games. Set in Asgard, God of Thunder pits the hammer swinging hero against all the baddies from Ymir to Ulik and more. For fans of the mighty one, this will be like a dream come true.

I should admit that the animation and graphics look decidedly dated, much like the Iron Man games (also developed by Sega), but I think that the developers are going for gameplay over looks.

Experience a spectacular, epic-scale original adventure in Thor’s first standalone game as he battles through numerous worlds of Norse mythology to overcome monstrous foes lifted from the pages of the comics. Wield Mjölnir, Thor’s legendary hammer, to fight enemies on an immense scale while controlling the elemental storm powers of lightning, thunder and wind to vanquish foes. Battle against legendary enemies including Ulik, Ymir and Surtur in conflicts that span realms ranging from primal worlds of fire and ice to extraordinary planets inhabited by Frost Giants, Trolls, and other monstrous denizens.

Enchanted Uru Hammer: Feel the surging power of a Norse superhero as you devastate multiple enemies with melee combo attacks and hammer throws, utilizing Thor’s elemental storm powers of thunder, lightning, and wind.
Epic Enemies: Take on an array of titanic enemies dozens of feet tall weighing over 20 tons using multiple strategies including grappling, vaulting and elemental attacks.
Level Up: Acquire new abilities, powers, and weapon upgrades as Thor earns Valor points through his exploits.
Immortal Heritage: Step into the role of the son of Odin, Asgard’s divine ruler, wielding the mighty hammer Mjolnir that gives you control of elemental powers.
Original Storyline: Delve deeper into the heroic tales of the Thor universe with an original story created specifically for the video games.

For more info on the upcoming game, visit Sega’s official website devoted to Thor: God of Thunder.

 

Pre-order Thor: God of Thunder

Thor: God of Thunder will be released on May 3rd, 2011
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Yet more hammer slinging animation!

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers has been running for a few weeks now over at Marvel.com and is surprisingly amazing. Previous efforts such as Spider-Woman and X-Men left me feeling very unimpressed, but this one is superb. Based on the mini-series Loki by Rob Rodi and Esad Ribic, the Marvel Knights production is sharp and intriguing. If you are looking for yet more Thor material to get in the mood, you should really check these out.

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers trailer

Visit Marvel.com to watch these animated shorts.

Additional recommendations:

The Mighty Thor, Vol. 1

Thor: Tales of Asgard

Thor: Ragnarok

Avengers Disassembled: Thor

Thor: Ages of Thunder

Thor Omnibus