The third and final part of the round up that I am doing consists of spin-off comics where Thor shares the spotlight with others or is just a peripheral figure to the story.
Thor and the Warriors Four (cover date: June 2010)
This is a four issue mini-series written by Alex Zalben with art by Gurihiru. We all know, I assume, Thor’s friends and comrades the Warriors Three (more of whom later) but this story concerns the Warriors Four who turn out to be Power Pack. The story has the Power family worried for their grandmother who is lying at death’s door in hospital. Being heroes they do not want to accept their grandmother’s fate but try to do something about it. Reading a book on Norse myths, Julie Power has the idea of contacting Thor to try and obtain the legendary golden apples that keep the Norse gods young and healthy. In trying to do this they run into the pet Avengers (?) and frog Thor opens a portal for them to travel to Asgard on wargs. This is a fun, cutesy story aimed at younger readers, I would guess. The art is nice and clean with an Americanised manga look to it. Not one for me to buy for myself but might be a nice introduction to Marvel for a younger relative.
Chaos War: Thor (cover date: January 2011)
This is a two issue mini-series that is part of a bigger multi-title crossover from Marvel called Chaos War. The typically restrained Marvel blurb for Chaos War #1 says:
|Bigger than THE INFINITY GAUNTLET! More cosmic than ANNIHILATION! Since the end of SECRET INVASION, the CHAOS KING has amassed his army of alien slave gods — and the time to strike Earth is NOW! Only the greatest Marvel heroes can oppose him — all led by the newly-returned god of heroes … HERCULES! But are even his incredible new powers enough to stand against the greatest threat the Marvel Universe has ever seen – a mad god who seeks to destroy Reality itself?
The comic is written by J.M. DeMatteis who I know best from books published in the late eighties and early nineties such as Moonshadow, Blood: A Tale and an excellent run on Doctor Fate where he reinvented the character. The art is handled by more unknowns to me – Brian Ching and Rick Ketcham. The story starts on a cosmic scale with Thor battling a powerful god called Glory but then both combatants neutralise each other and fall to Earth. Thor reverts to human form and is found by a troubled woman living alone searching for answers to the death of her family. When Thor comes to he has lost his memory and spends some time with the woman before being found by the reawakened Glory. I’m not really a fan of big event storylines that crossover into books that I would never normally read – especially when books I do read get caught up in them. The question is really can this book be written so that it satisfies as a standalone story without getting tied in knots with the continuity in the wider story? Well probably not is the answer. DeMatteis does a good job of turning a large scale cosmic event into an insular search for awareness and spiritual enlightenment – themes he explored in the books I read in the eighties – but in the end it would have been better if he could have written his own standalone story and not have the Chaos War backdrop. So an oddity within the continuity of the Chaos War but it did leave wanting more of those stories I remember from 20 years ago.
Iron Man/Thor: God Complex (cover date: January 2011)
This is a four part series written by long time collaborators Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning – stalwarts of various Marvel UK titles and 2000AD – with art by Scot Eaton and Jaime Mendoza. This is a strange book to me because it involves a number of characters that I am not familiar with not being a huge reader of Marvel comics – such as Baron Mordo, Crimson Dynamo, Ulik and the High Evolutionary. However having spent most of the first issue cutting from scene to scene to finally set up the premise to looks as though it might well be very entertaining. I think I would need to read issue 2 to get a better feel if I really want to pursue it to the end. But I can’t help being cynical in thinking that Marvel have brought these characters together now (outside of their being team mates in the Avengers) to associate the successful movie franchise, Iron Man, with the forthcoming Thor movie.
Warriors Three (cover date: January 2011)
I had high hopes going into this one as it is written by Bill Willingham, whose Fables series for Vertigo is fantastic, and I thought the pairing of Willingham with the characters of the Warriors Three would be perfect. Unfortunately it hasn’t worked out like that straight from the off. The story starts with a killing spree by Fenris Wolf in which a small town is slaughtered. Then we are introduced to each of the warriors in turn – first the philanderer Fandral who is pushed out of a window before the return of a husband; next Volstagg who has cleaned out a diner an all you can eat for $14.99 lunch as a challenge; and finally Hogun who has laid out most men in a bar for laughing at his hat. The Asgardians are summoned back to Asgard to learn the news of Fenris Wolf’s escape and to be sent off to hunt him down and place him back into captivity. Thor tells the three that he would understand if they stayed behind to safeguard Asgard rather than join the hunt but they reject this and go to the place where he was held prisoner to find clues only to be overrun by trolls. The story was good enough but it didn’t have the same spark as his own series does – maybe he doesn’t have enough freedom to play with the characters or maybe the story is just slow getting started. It is a four issue mini-series so I would be interested in reading it all when it is complete but it will be somewhere in the middle of my list of things to buy.
Loki (cover date: December 2010)
This is another four issue mini-series featuring Thor’s jealous half-brother Loki. The story starts with Loki in hiding from Asgard but he is found and Thor comes to speak with him. Thor wants to discover why Loki has done his latest misdeed but instead Loki talks of past injustices and resentments that have helped shaped his character. Again the story and art are fine enough without being exceptional. Loki is portrayed at his lowest ebb and so is not as fiendish and tricky, or so it seems, as he is in other stories where he has the upper hand. I usually like Loki as a villain but he needs to have more energy about him than he has in this story. Another one to keep an eye on and see how it develops before buying, I think.