Thor

Loki: Agent of Asgard 1 (April 2014)

295085 20140205113031 largeI guess it’s been a while since I’ve read a new Marvel comic. I didn’t realize they’ve done everything possible to make the Avengers as much like the movie Avengers… down to this young hot Loki.

Writer Al Ewing makes references back to old Marvel comics and events and so on, but he’s really going for a crossover audience. He doesn’t do a bad job with it either. Loki: Agent of Asgard is fun and fast; it’s mischievous in how its amusing. Ewing knows all the right jokes to make.

But there’s only so much one can do with the story of an Asgardian secret agent who fights with the Avengers. He can fight with the Avengers and go to Asgard. There’s some witty comments about magic in here too, but there’s not a lot. It’s a fast food comic.

Lee Garbett’s art is okay. He’s not great at superheroes.

B- 

CREDITS

Trust Me; writer, Al Ewing; artist, Lee Garbett; colorist, Nolan Woodard; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Jon Moisan, Lauren Sankovitch and Wil Moss; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor (2011, Kenneth Branagh)

Thor has two problems to overcome. Director Branagh is successful at one of them. The first problem is half the film takes place in mythological Asgard, which is an ancient place, but very modern with all the latest streamlined architecture—think if Art Deco molded with neon, some magical stuff and then inexplicable horse-based transit. For a superhero movie, it asks a lot. One has to believe it. Branagh makes it work.

The second problem is less severe and, by the time it becomes clear, it’s sort of a non-issue. The New Mexico setting for the “on Earth” sequences is boring. There’s this fantastic ten foot tall metal monster thing and it all looks great, but it’s destroying a tiny desert town. It’d be a lot more fun to watch it destroy something bigger. But, by this time, the romance between Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman is going and the movie’s coasting. Plus, the exit from New Mexico’s a nice sequence.

The script’s assured, but again, the acting helps. Tom Hiddleston walks off with the movie as Hemsworth’s brother and antagonist. Idris Elba and Jaimie Alexander are also strong. Anthony Hopkins is fine (one wonders how much they spent making him look so young at times). Hemsworth is ideal in the lead. Portman is just doing the smart girlfriend role—and she has some problems—but she’s good overall.

Great score from Patrick Doyle. Nice composition from Branagh.

Thor’s a lot of fun; it escapes its inherent goofiness.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Kenneth Branagh; screenplay by Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne, based on a story by J. Michael Straczynski and Mark Protosevich and the Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby; director of photography, Haris Zambarloukos; edited by Paul Rubell; music by Patrick Doyle; production designer, Bo Welch; produced by Kevin Feige; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Natalie Portman (Jane Foster), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Stellan Skarsgard (Dr. Erik Selvig), Kat Dennings (Darcy), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Colm Feore (King Laufey), Jaimie Alexander (Sif), Joshua Dallas (Fandral), Tadanobu Asano (Hogun), Ray Stevenson (Volstagg), Rene Russo (Frigga), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson) and Anthony Hopkins (Odin).


Thor: The Mighty Avenger 8 (February 2011)

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Cornfields. It ends in a cornfield. I’m not sure there’s anything more perfect. Well, obviously, not being canceled would be more perfect, but for what they have to do… Langridge and Samnee end it beautifully.

The issue does not play like a final issue (I’m assuming Marvel did not give them time)—the big bad is left unresolved (Bunson and Beeker make it) and, you know, Odin never makes an appearance—but Langridge finds a balance.

What becomes important is how people regard Thor (sort of) and Langridge gets it resolved. Also, the relationship with Jane needs permanence and Langridge brings that aspect too.

Samnee gets to draw “Mighty” Iron Man and it’s an interesting approach (suggesting there’s a place to take it for going).

It’s an excellent issue with a great last few pages. It’s awful to think there isn’t going to be any more of it.

Thor’s wonderful.

A 

CREDITS

The Man in the Iron Mask; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz, Sana Amanat and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 7 (February 2011)

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It’s hard not to be depressed. And not just because Langridge ends on the series’s first (and last) real cliffhanger. This issue is the second-to-last Thor: The Mighty Avenger.

Langridge opens the issue with Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beeker (I suppose Samnee does have something to do with it). Things weren’t working out in the Muppet Labs so they changed their names (slightly) and are now building robots to attack Thor.

Maybe more importantly, this issue is the one where Thor and Jane… ahem… how to make it appropriate for an all ages book… start sharing the same bed. It combined with Thor as a public figure in the small town, make for some great material.

The scene where Jane sends Thor off the work is a favorite; Langridge and Samnee sell it without cynicism or sentimentality. It just works beautifully.

Very upset there’s only one issue left.

CREDITS

Robot; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz, Sana Amanat and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 6 (January 2011)

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The issue ends with Thor and Jane’s first kiss. I wasn’t sure it was going to because Langridge was hinting at it a couple times and it didn’t happen.

The last few pages, leading up to the kiss, are some great talking heads stuff. Except Samnee doesn’t just do talking heads, he does these medium shots and it really brings a lot of charm to it. Of course, Samnee just doesn’t get to do the big kiss scene, Langridge gives him a lot of other stuff….

Thor dukes it out Heimdall, who has different shapes, giving Samnee a lot of action scenes to illustrate. What’s interesting about this episode is how it comes before the present action of this issue (and the last issue). Langridge never refers to it, but it turns out Thor’s been preoccupied this issue and last.

It’s wonderful. Samnee’s expressions alone put it over the top.

CREDITS

Thursday Night; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz, Sana Amanat and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 5 (December 2010)

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Langridge ought to write the Marvel story bible on how characters should be portrayed. His Namor is at once more regal and more human than any other portrayal I’ve read. Langridge’s Namor isn’t the mass anarchist (or a jerk) and it makes for a great guest appearance.

Interestingly, in the same issue, we’re treated to the first look at Thor’s real regal brazenness, juxtaposed against Namor’s self-awareness.

This issue Thor takes Jane on a trip around the world. They miss some stuff because of the adventure with Namor, but what they do make it to—redwood trees, the Great Barrier Reef—immediately reminded me of something else.

It reminded me of Superman (the movie) and its unashamed embracing of the wonderment value. Langridge and Samnee are applying this cinematic gleefulness to a comic book. It only took thirty years.

Thor just keeps getting better. It’s fun, thoughtful and rewarding.

CREDITS

Thursday Morning; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 4 (November 2010)

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This issue, featuring the Warriors Three—they’re checking up on Thor for his father, unaware he doesn’t remember the details of his banishment—might be the best issue of Thor yet.

It’s hard to say.

It doesn’t do much with the Thor and Jane romance, which Langridge is pacing beautifully, but it’s just such a joy… one reads it beaming.

The issue is played mostly for humorous effect—Langridge’s version of Captain Britain is a hoot—but again he’s able to touch on some rather serious points. With Thor as the stranger in the strange land, this issue gives him friends. More, it lets the reader see Thor with his fellows. It’s not technically important since, you know, it’s a Thor comic and a familiar reader should be able to guess….

But Langridge makes it important.

Samnee gets to do talking heads, battle, romance, humor; he hands them all exquisitely.

CREDITS

Boys’ Night Out; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 3 (October 2010)

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It’s a Thor comic, but it’s kind of Henry Pym’s issue. Giant-Man and the Wasp guest-star this issue and Langridge goes far in giving them their nicest portrayal in many years. Flashbacks to Pym’s past bookend the issue; Langridge uses them to give the character a resonance totally unrelated to the events Thor’s experiencing in the issue’s main body. It’s interesting to see bookends without some kind of analog in the story. It’s very nice.

Even with the big (no pun intended) guest stars—I don’t think the Wasp even shrinks down here though—Langridge spends a lot of time developing Thor and Jane’s relationship. He uses her knowledge of Thor (from Edith Hamilton, no doubt) to further the narrative, giving Jane a crib sheet for Thor. One the reader presumably already has.

It makes for some nice, delicate scenes.

With Samnee’s great art, it’s another wondrous issue.

CREDITS

Here Be Giants; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 2 (September 2010)

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As much as I love Samnee’s art—and Mighty Avenger is, to some degree, all about Samnee’s art (he manages to capture the wonderment factor of superheroes, a lost art… even though it’s set in Oklahoma)—one cannot ignore Langridge.

The issue opens with a great summary of the previous issue, then it continues a few hours later. These hours, off panel, are spent with Jane painstakingly glueing together an ancient urn. There’s a combination of humor and painful reality in that moment. Langridge makes Thor more realistic—with his characterizations being real people—than most mainstream comics.

It doesn’t hurt Langridge and Samnee take the time to pause and reflect on their fantastical story. They give the reader time to appreciate it—more, they give the characters those moments too. The issue ends with a lovely, sad, quiet scene with Thor and Jane staring at a rainbow.

It’s perfect.

A 

CREDITS

Hyde; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger 1 (September 2010)

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Langridge’s approach is to make Jane Foster the lead, something I wasn’t expecting, but it makes perfect sense. Recasting Thor as a mute homeless guy (at least in her view) for half the issue was a little more questionable. As is the scene with Thor defending a woman’s honor against a ruffian… the joke, it turns out, is the ruffian is Mr. Hyde.

I’m not sure why I didn’t just assume Langridge knew what he was doing. Maybe because I’m not a Thor reader. But he and Samnee get something fantastic going here. I would never have said Samnee’s art was particularly “kid-friendly” before, but Mighty Avenger isn’t so much a kid-friendly title as just a revamp without cynicism. There’s no grim and gritty here.

The issue ends on a soft cliffhanger. Langridge and Samnee have already made the characters compelling, so it doesn’t need anything super-flashy.

A 

CREDITS

A New Beginning for Thor, the Mighty Avenger!; writer, Roger Langridge; artist, Chris Samnee; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Michael Horwitz and Nathan Cosby; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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