Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by: Carlos Pacheco
Let me start by saying I really hate this new naming convention that Marvel is using for the Ultimate line of comics. This new naming is essentially in place because there are different Ultimate lines featuring the same characters so the hope is that this convention will help readers connect to the right versions of the characters they love in the Ultimate universe. Really what Marvel should do is just limit the number of versions of the same super team, Avengers for example, within the Ultimate U. Of they could go back to the old way of titling comics that worked well. Good examples are Web of Spider-Man, Peter Parker Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-man. These all feature the same character but they’re telling different stories in slightly different universes. At any rate, that’s a tangent that was probably better for another article but its typed now so there’s no going back. On to Ultimate Comics Thor….
Thor is a character that has always seemed best suited for team books. In my youth his solo books came and went often because they were unable to maintain the readership needed to keep them in print. A few years back the great J. Michael Straczynski proved that the proper approach to the God of Thunder could make for a compelling solo book. The toughest thing about Thor is that he’s not a grounded character, he’s a God, and so he can be a little tough to relate to unlike most other Marvel heroes. He’s also the most elitist hero in the Marvel universe so he’s often not likable. A writer needs to be able to instill those Norse God qualities into Thor and still make him a layered character that readers can get behind. If a writer can hit those marks he has control of the most badass boomstick in the Marvel universe.
This new series is somewhat of a reboot, or retelling of Thor’s origin but it doesn’t tell the story in such a way that longtime comic book fans will roll their eyes and complain about having to hear a back-story that they’ve heard over and over again for years. This issue introduces the tropes of the God in new and surprisingly fascinating ways including the rainbow bridge, the Hammer, and of course Asgard. The human element is present as well and the use of Donald Blake and Thor himself is familiar but slightly tweaked in really interesting ways. It’s tough to get into specifics without just spoiling the entire book but suffice it to say that all of the expected elements of the Thor experience are here but they’ve all been tweaked and modernized to present a really entertaining issue and intriguing new story arc.
Thor begins this story not even wielding the Hammer and Asgard is in near ruins. That splash page doesn’t get completely answered by the end of the book because of course we get a doozey of a cliffhanger. Odin realizes that his home is under constant attack and the only way he can win the war that is brewing is through the creation of the “ultimate” weapon. At the same time the brothers three, which includes Thor and Loki are out and about defending the walls that surround their home. On earth, some of the most evil humans ever to have existed are at the heart of what appears will be the eventual downfall of Asgard.
This issue is focused on setting the stage for this new Thor and new story arc and it works on virtually every level. There’s some action but more importantly the new versions of familiar characters feel fresh and a bit mysterious. Jonathan Hickman revived the Fantastic Four and he seems primed to do the same for Thor.
The art in this book is typical of the more cinematic style of the ultimate books including a very familiar color pallet. On the good side nothing ever gets too dark which happens often in the Ultimate line but on the bad side some of the smaller details didn’t get as much attention as the larger set pieces. To be fair I read this book on my iPad as this issue was released day and date digitally and in print so I was able to look closer at each panel than those reading the book in print. Artists working on comics really need to start taking the digital format into consideration as they create their books though. Overall the art is pretty solid featuring good character design, Loki and Thor in particular, and consistent environmental depth.
Ultimate Comics Thor #1 creates an intriguing and entertaining new path for the God of Thunder that requires more attention. This is a must for Thor fans and worth a look for those that at one time only liked the character in team books.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Story 8.5/10
The Art 8/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10