Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Volume 1

Thor the Norse god of thunder was largely portrayed as a great warrior, giant-killer, and carouser. He was also shown to be dim sometimes, prone to the tricks of his half-brother Loki, and as having red hair and a red beard. This blond, clean-shaven version of Thor is the creation of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, the original architects of Marvel Comics. As a back-up feature, this book contains the first two appearances of this Thor by Kirby and Lee.

There have been different versions of Thor over time, given that the character has been published since 1962, and this version does a good job combining the original feel of the comics series with a contemporary sensibility while making it a perfect introduction for new readers. This Thor is on Earth for reasons he can't remember. He is drawn to a museum display for some reason, but is throw out by the guards when he tries to break into a glass case. Later, Jane Foster, who works in the museum, happens upon him in the street as he is violently thrown out of a bar while defending a woman's honor. His attacker is shown to be a gigantic man calling himself Mr. Hyde. Jane takes Thor in, and eventually they have adventures and try to figure out why he is on Earth at all.

This charmer of a book was created by writer Roger Langridge and artist Chris Samnee, with colors by Matthew Wilson. Langridge first came to prominence for his work on his series Fred the Clown and then made an even bigger splash with The Muppet Show , which won the 2010 Harvey Award for best Original Series for Younger Readers. Samnee, who has drawn comics for all the major comics companies as well as the graphic novel Capote in Kansas, was nominated for the Eisner Award for best up-and-coming artist in 2006 and is currently one of the more sought after artists in the industry.

This book, part of Marvel's push to publicize Thor, the subject of an upcoming movie, has been largely well received. David O'Leary commented that this "gem" of a book comes about because of Langridge's and Samnee's strong story-telling skills. Comic Book Resources' Chad Nevett wrote that the series is full of "fun, great art, and dynamic character work." Scott Cederlund appreciates how this series takes an old concept and refreshes it with a shift in characterization.

Previews of a number of the chapters in this book are available starting here from Marvel Comics.

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