Jason Aaron has been doing remarkable things with Thor: God of Thunder for just over two years. It was a great title, which did intriguing work on Thor's history, present, and future. The three were woven into one story, and it was a compelling one at that. But that chapter has closed. Following the events of Original Sin, Thor was devastated by some horrible secret… and rendered unworthy. [Spoilers below.]
To its credit, the comic does not pick up immediately on the Moon, where Thor dropped Mjolnir. That'd be too easy. No, no. Instead we open far beneath the Norwegian sea, where a Roxxon submersible (that damn company) is seemingly off the map. Their coordinates say they should be looking at a nice, flat seabed. Instead, it's the undersea equivalent of the Swiss Alps, and the thing coming off the terrain is a lot worse than Julie Andrews.
On a list of things you don't want to see at the bottom of the ocean, a GIANT HAND REACHING FOR YOU is probably near the top. (Appropriately, their jumpsuits are yellow.) Over at the Roxxon sea base, the lab coats are getting concerned, and decide to release attack sharks to investigate. (Of course all major corporations have attack sharks. Do you not?) Cue the army of FROST GIANTS, marching across the ground, ready to tear the Roxxon sea base into pieces.
This is our first really big piece of work for the issue. A two-page splash of the Underwater Frosties about to kill dozens (if not hundreds) of Roxxon employees is, well, visually spectacular. It does a grand job of setting up that new stakes are in play, and time is of the essence. Go buy this comic.
It's not enough that Jason Aaron's taking the mythos in an intriguing new direction. It's not enough that Russell Dauterman gets to go to town drawing some fantastic, impossible creatures and look good doing it. It's not enough that the vibrant colors from Matthew Wilson complement their work perfectly. No. Thor #1 surprises you. I find myself wondering what's going to happen next, and that is a rare feeling, as an avid comic reader. It is worth its weight in dwarven gold.
Meanwhile! On the Moon! Thor struggles in vain to lift Mjolnir. His fellow Asgardians watch in sympathy, faces painted with concern. It's been weeks since Thor lost his touch, and has done nothing in that time but strain trying to budge one of the mightiest weapons in the Marvel universe. Then his dad shows up.
Odin is unimpressed with yon recap of Original Sin, while the All-Mother watches on in genuine concern. Asgard's resident 'Before' model, Volstagg the Valient, shares that he and damn near every other Asgardian tried to lift Mjolnir, at Thor's insistence. Odin is in rare form, bringing plenty of braggadocio to the moon's crust. Gods. Sometimes they're jerks.
Then, the twist. Even Odin can't lift Mjolnir. What. While he loses his temper with an inanimate object, Freyja offers counsel and comfort to her son. "Worthiness should not be defined by the whims of magic weapons. Rise, my son, and let the hammer be damned. Rise and remember the hero that you are." I'm happy to see reason and compassion prevailing over brute shows of force, but I hope that the comic doesn't suggest that things like reason and compassion are exclusively feminine traits. I am ALL FOR equality of the sexes, and yeah, maybe showing our most masculine characters taking one on the chin is called for. We'll see how things progress, moving forward.
I like seeing Freyja standing up as Odin's equal, as opposed to his companion. When word reaches the Moon of the Frost Giants, Odin wants to return to Asgard. Freyja doesn't hesitate to countermand him. Hell, they speak at the same time. Her tenure as All-Mother has given her confidence, and it's glorious. Odin, clearly full of Mysogin-Os (It's the breakfast of bearded old men! Just as stale, crusty, and unhealthy as it sounds!), warns Freyja to mind her place. Ugh.
To her credit, she casts a look back at the hammer, and agrees that she should. Hrm… [HOLY CRAP separate theory idea, will have to go in another article. Sorry folks!]
Beneath the sea, as the briny carnage winds down, three remaining Roxxon-ites wonder just where the hell the giants came from. Malekith takes that as an invitation to step in. So the FG's are working with Malekith. Not terribly surprised. Malekith plays villain card #246: Be a Spectacular Butt-Hole and Ask Unfair Questions. He asks where it is, without explaining what it is, and kills 2 of the last humans before the third swears up and down that he'll find IT. That's just crappy leadership, right there. You can't give sloppy requests and expect specific results.
Malekith ponders the location of IT, when Thor arrives… on the back of a goat, brandishing Jarnbjorn. To his (and Dauterman's) credit, he makes it look badass. He arrives at the bottom of the sea and picks a fight with the angry elf.
Things do not go well for Thor. He's a match for Malekith, most days. With Mjolnir at his side. Unfortunately, he is no match for Malekith plus two Frost Giants. They grab him and hold him still while Malekith grabs Jarnbjorn, the axe that can cut godflesh, and–
Oh, damn. Damn.
In the pages of Thor: God of Thunder, the elder Thor from millennia in the future is missing his left arm. I assumed it was an injury incurred somewhere far in the future. I was wrong.
Malekith finds whatever he's looking for, which pleases the Frost Giants. Thor is dropped off the undersea cliff's edge, drifting into the black with only one arm, trailing blood behind him. Wow. WOW.
Aaaaand back on the moon, a woman whispers "There must always be a Thor," and bends to lift Mjolnir high.
There's a new Thunder God in town. Her name is Thor.
… I'm stunned. THAT is how you kick off a new chapter in a Marvel Mythos. Holy crap.
Stay tuned for theories about the new Thor, and other reviews. They'll be posted to www.caseyjonescaseyjones.com.