Monday, 21 April 2014

Thor God of Thunder Vol. 1: The God Butcher (Marvel NOW!) Review

Thor God of Thunder Vol. 1: The God Butcher (Marvel NOW!)
I tried coming up with a joke for this
one... but couldn't... it's an awesome,
unfunny cover.

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Esad Ribic

Collecting: Thor God of Thunder #1-5

Background Information:

A few years ago, I would actually have had to explain who Thor was, but three movies later, most people already know who he is.

But in case you’ve missed those three movies, a cartoon series and the title of the book, Thor is the Norse god of thunder. That’s really all there is to him.

Review:

When people complain about Superman being overpowered, my reaction is generally “look at Thor!” I mean, the guy’s a god. In theory, any villain he therefore takes on, excluding another god, is going to be inferior, right?

Right?

Apparently, wrong. Actually, apparently; very wrong. The God Butcher centres on Thor’s investigation into the disappearance of gods all across the universe. Some has been killing these gods left right and centre, and it’s someone who directly affects Thor’s past, present and future.

Considering The God Butcher jumps around in time a lot, it’s surprisingly easy to follow. Thor looks and acts very different in each of his incarnations and that helps readers to distinguish which version of Thor they are reading about.

But the story does more than that; and actually makes some fairly interesting statements about belief and unbelief. The book’s villain, a nude Voldermort-looking character named Gorr is jaded by gods in general- what he thought he believed about the gods turned out to be false, and that sends him on a rampage against all the gods that he failed to understand. It’s a story that equally questions both devotion to deity and militant atheism. Too often, many comics seem to swing one way or the other and it’s good to see that writer Jason Aaron knows how to walk the thin line between the two. Gorr is a disillusioned believer, and all he did was discover the truth about the gods, but his behaviour is clearly villainous.

The only real problem with The God Butcher’s story is that Thor’s character feels like it doesn’t evolve as much as it should have. It’s disturbing, since most pages are given over only to Thor and Gorr. You would think five issues that are nearly exclusively devoted to Thor would have given the God of Thunder time to change his perspective on something, or learn some lesson about what it means to be a god, but that doesn’t happen.

But that is a very small complaint, as the relationship between Thor and Gorr is really what’s on display here. In a surprisingly short time, Aaron gives us a great view of the depth and breadth of Thor and Gorr’s conflict and just how it has played out over the ages. It’s impressive to consider that a story that covers the time between 893 AD- many millennia from now can seem as fully fleshed-out as this one is. Somehow, Aaron gives us a full, in-depth view of Thor’s relationship to Gorr without doing anything that would have detracted from the story. He doesn’t skimp on the action, doesn’t revert to talking heads, and doesn’t even make vague statements. By the end of the book, you start to wonder why the Thor movies have been wasting time with Loki when this guy seems like the biggest bad in Thor lore.

Esad Ribic’s art is some of the best that I’ve seen in a long time. Ribic’s style perfectly marries fantasy and sci-fi and it suits Thor perfectly. The hazed-over paints that abound in The God Butcher adds that perfect sense of mystery. I could not ask for better art in a Thor book and I’m glad I got in this one.


The God Butcher
is a near-perfect book, and an excellent example of why Marvel NOW! works. It gets a four and a half out of five nude Voldermorts.

**** ½

+ Deep statements about belief and unbelief

+ Thor and Gorrs story feels surprisingly fleshed-out

+ Beautiful art

- Thor’s character less developed than it could have been.