I was a little reluctant to start collecting modern comic books. I have so few books from my childhood, I felt that I should focus my attention on collecting those issues that came out during my childhood and earlier. However, while I was at Collector’s Den, my LCS, the owner talked me into trying just one modern issue. He promised that I would enjoy it more than earlier issues. Reluctantly, I bought it. Then it sat there, unread, for at least 2 weeks. Finally, I decided to read it. As soon as I opened the cover and examined the artwork, I felt an old nemeses calling: his name is addiction. I was instantly hooked. From the storyline, concept, art, and dialogue, this arc is far superior to anything I have read previously.
Thor God of Thunder #1: “The God Butcher, Part 1 of 5: A World Without Gods“
Here is what is so amazing to me. In the years since I collected comics in the 80’s and early 90’s, the quality of writing has drastically improved. In this case, Jason Aaron has taken Thor’s ascension to the throne, reign of supremacy, and fall from grace and employed legitimate literary devices to create an arc that is both challenging and rewarding.
The issue opens in Iceland, 893 A.D. While he is a powerful warrior, the young god is struggling with a juvenile confidence. As he celebrates a victory, Thor’s attention is turned to a severed head, floating in the nearby water. The head, belonging to a Native American god, is an ominous sign that a power, far greater than Thor has even seen, has slain a god. Thor’s reaction is dismissive.
This scene is a flashback and is juxtaposed against present day Thor, answering the prayers of a young girl on another planet. Thor is more mature, though his arrogance is still visible. It is brought to his attention that the gods of this planet have been absent for so long that they are no longer worshipped. As he explores the hall of the palace of the gods, Thor is attacked by an ominous creature, one that Thor recognizes as Gorr, the God Butcher. This is the same creature that caused the havoc in ancient Iceland.
Jumping many millenia into the future, Thor is an aged god. Missing an eye, alone, and withering as Asgard is attacked, he issues a powerful statement that illuminates a change in Thor and hints at a guilt that has plagued the God for thousands of years. With that, he charges into battle, wielding Mjolnir and the Odinsword.
This story was incredible. It had depth; something that older books just didn’t have.
The artwork went far beyond any that I had encountered as a child. Esad Ribic has brought an element of sophistication to this comic. Elevating Thor, by adding attention to the background, Ribic has allowed for an exploration into the decay that surrounds the God of Thunder.
This issue, released in December 2012, begins an arc that leads up to the controversial change in the story of Thor: Mjolnir will be wielded by a female.