Do you remember the first 8 issues of Thor before Secret Wars began? If so, then you know exactly what to expect from The Mighty Thor, for better or worse. Writer Jason Aaron, artist Russell Dauterman, and colorist Matthew Wilson may be moving the story forward almost a full year, but the manner in which they are telling it has remained consistent through the hiatus. The Mighty Thor #1 is every bit as gorgeous and dynamic as its predecessor, even if it also contains some storytelling stumbles that just won’t seem to fly away.
Dauterman and Wilson established themselves last year as one of the most visually impactful teams to touch Norse mythology in the Marvel universe since Walt Simonson himself. They understand that Thor is a big character surrounded by equally massive settings and set pieces, comrades and villains. Nothing about what they bring to life within the pages of The Mighty Thor #1 is understated. Once the action begins in a rather gruesome spread, each new beat hits hard and fast. Wilson really lights up the streets of Asgard and differentiates the wide array of garments and skin tones between the races of the nine realms. His palette illustrates the world of Thor like a technicolor Lord of the Rings, enhancing all of these fantasy elements with a sci-fi sensibility that twinkles and gleams.
The look and feel of each race and character feels truly special under Dauterman’s pencils. Trolls are brutally composed with stout statures and hard angles. Giants on the other hand are made to loom, but given much more human qualities cast in deep shadows. He understands that design is what provides a first impression and any reader jumping on board with The Mighty Thor #1 will be given a clear idea of what each character is all about. Dauterman also reveals some unexpected nuance in his work when portraying Jane Foster in the cancer ward of a hospital. The tone of the scene still contains a slight sense of embellishment, but it is utilized to enhance the sterility, quiet, and sadness of the place. There is an inherent tragedy built into the origin of Thor in this series and it is best realized here in Dauterman and Wilson’s more mundane portrayal of Midgard.
That sense of nuance is not carried over to Aaron’s script, however. This is the first issue in which the characters of Thor and Jane Foster have been shown to be one and the same, yet it does not read much differently from the previous installment of Thor. When Jane is shown as a human she is almost entirely defined by her cancer. Her internal monologue describes the process of chemo and her hopeless struggle to remain alive. Even when she is acting as a senator to the Congress of Worlds, her illness remains at the forefront of the conversation. Rather than being an aspect of her being, one that more clearly reveals who she is, breast cancer has become the core character trait of Jane Foster.
When she acts as Thor, this topic is dropped entirely and it is almost as if a different character has entered the page. There is not much in The Mighty Thor #1 that defines her heroic personality, but what is on display is inspiring. Thor is heroic almost to the point of foolhardiness, and feels truly bigger than life. While this creates a disconnect between her and her alter-ego, it lends itself well to the epic scope where Aaron truly excels. When building conspiracies and universe-threatening plots, The Mighty Thor is truly at its most worthy. Some of the details surrounding these plots, specifically what has occurred in the interceding 8 months are left purposefully obscured in an unnecessary mystery box, but it does not detract from the threats presented on the page.
The Mighty Thor #1 is no more or less mighty than Thor. It remains a beautiful superhero comic that actually manages to earn the adjective of epic. While the protagonist remains a loosely written outline, her time spent as the God of Thunder reveals promise that the series will hopefully grow into. Whether or not that occurs, The Mighty Thor will undoubtedly remain a truly fantastic presentation of nine realms.