Thor is a character whose potential is frequently under-utilized. Far too often is he reduced to merely a hammer-swinging meathead whose only purpose is to be thrown around in order to raise the stakes. Far too often it is forgotten that Thor is a magical space Viking who spends most of his leisure time cruising through the cosmos killing giant monsters and going to the ensuing parties where he impregnates all the women in the village/country/planet. Yeah, that’s awesome.
Marvel Now!’s new series dedicated solely to the Thunderer is much more on the mark, focusing on the magic and wonder of Thor’s world. We begin with foreshadowing in the form of a flashback to Thor’s younger days, in which he encountered a butchered god in the waters of Norway. The mystery of who or what exactly the “God Butcher” is gets left unanswered as we return to the present.
Here we see Thor answering the prayer of a young girl on an alien planet by ending a drought. This is a really cool scene. It’s always satisfying when writers realize that superheroes, especially a god like Thor, can accomplish a lot when they put their minds toward something instead of just waiting for the next apocalypse to show up at their door.
Moving on, Thor eventually is conveniently reminded of the flashback we just saw as he discovers the gods of this planet have been killed. Thor investigates the abandoned former home of these gods and there’s a weird scene where he goes totally Batman on us by inspecting the crime scene. Then again, I suppose Thor is sort of a hunter as well as a warrior – plus it’s nice to know there’s more to the guy than just being strong and gutsy. Thor totally goes looking for the God Butcher and finds some creepy monster thing and the issue ends with a flash-forward of Thor as an old man in a losing battle against the God Butcher and its forces, which raises the stakes for future issues pretty well.
All in all this issue plays with some interesting ideas. Its theme seems to be centred on gods and the roles they play in society, which I hope we see more of. There’s a sort of Neil Gaiman feel to it in that sense, albeit simplified. Speaking of which, there are some clumsily done parts. The theme is slightly heavy-handed as I’m pretty sure the writer uses the word “gods” so much that it had lost all meaning by the end. Similarly, the idea of the God Butcher is sort of weak. I can imagine writers thinking “What can be a believable threat to a bunch of gods?” and they came up with “How about something that kills gods?” And thus the God Butcher was born – it’s not the most inventive idea around and it feels like it’s been done a dozen times.
All in all, Thor God of Thunder has an ideal issue 1. It establishes the character and plays with some interesting ideas hinting at future story lines. Considering Thor is one of my favourite superheroes, I loved seeing him get reinstated as a classic character – This book definitely earns my recommendation.