Jason Aaron knows how to start a Thor comic; he has been doing it for the better part of a decade. From Thor: God of Thunder through The Mighty Thor to Thor #1, he has taken the legend and written three introductions, each for a powerful new era. While some readers may worry about the writer repeating himself, this new debut should wipe any such concerns away. Thor #1 contains many familiar elements, both as a first issue and a Jason Aaron Thor story, but it grows from the past and presents new elements in order to quickly secure its place in a growing canon.
In spite of so many years of history, Thor #1 is the best sort of first issue. It takes the time to present key elements of background, confront new challenges, and introduce essential characters, all without ever losing its sense of excitement. Aaron plots the central storyline of this issue like the premiere of a new season of television. Everything that is needed has a moment to check in, usually with some notable element of visual funnery (e.g. Asgardian refugees moving into Brooklyn) or terse drama (e.g. Freyja coming to terms with her son Loki’s betrayal). Even if readers can see the gears spinning behind the story, the manner and method of their presentation are enough to make it all enjoyable.
The story doesn’t rest entirely upon catching new readers up and reminding others of what they need to know. These minor moments of drama are interspersed between three notable action sequences, the sort of conflicts that superhero fans have come to expect across a complete arc. In this way the issue overcomes its feeling as a new season premiere by dropping stellar set pieces throughout.
Anything less would have been a disappointment though considering the newest artist to guide the fate of Thor: Mike del Mundo. His fluid action and powerful forms are a perfect match for the sort of action this issue contains. Superpowered bodies are exaggerated just to the point of ridiculousness, filling each panel with a constant ebb and flow of tension as knuckles crack and punches are thrown. It also leans into the story’s sense of humor, embracing the scale of these fights and adventures. There is a sharper edge to his work than other recent contributions at Marvel, as the artist leans into the heavy metal sensibilities that have populated the run from its earliest days. Thor’s chin appears chiseled from granite and each new hammer thrown could be the cover for an album filled with screaming guitars. It is difficult to imagine a better fit than del Mundo.
Christian Ward is just as well suited to fill in the companion piece focused on the far future for Thor and his three granddaughters. Ward brings a similar fusion of color and linework with his pages, but there is a more ethereal element that captures the age and wistful tone of this other story. It provides similar notes of humor and action as well, but holds more sadness in its heart. The power in both the narrative and style make it far more than a backup, marking it as a true companion piece for the modern storyline.
When looking back across the entirety of Aaron’s run so far, it is possible to see the cycles of the superhero genre in comics. Changes are never permanent and stories follow a dramatic curve fluctuating without end. Yet it is difficult to resent these mechanisms when so well deployed by Aaron and his newest collaborators. They play upon the past beautifully, making the history matter to the present, and avoid any hard restarts. While this newest iteration of Thor offers a wonderful introduction, it also provides one that honors its history. It feels both a part of the whole and a great new beginning to build upon. This is how legends are made.
Published by Marvel Comics
On June 13, 2018
Written by Jason Aaron
Lettering by Joe Sabino
Cover by Mike Del Mundo