“Thor” is, right now, a deeply frustrating book. There’s a lot here to love, but this is the first time I’ve read a book written by Matt Fraction that feels like it isn’t trying to work as a serialized comic.
Two issues into “Thor,” there’s been a great idea posited, that if Asgard (one of the Nine Worlds) has been moved to Midgard/Earth (another of the Nine Worlds), something else would eventually appear to replace the emptiness that marks Asgard’s position in the Nine Worlds cosmology. (Bizarrely, it’s an idea also that appears to be running in Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis’s “Avengers Prime” mini-series.)
The problem is that in our second month of “Thor” with Fraction and Pasqual Ferry on board, it’s hard to shake the feeling that nothing is happening. The first issue has a scientist explaining this idea to Volstagg. The second issue has the scientist… trying to explain this again, only to Thor. And at the end of the issue, we’re no further along than we were before. The first issue had the new bad guys destroying things and preparing to head towards Earth. And in the second issue we have the new guys… and preparing to head towards Earth. Even Heimdall manages to get a repeat this issue, once again seeing bad things as the climax of the book.
It’s a little frustrating, because while I have no doubt that this story will work together well in a collected format, having the second issue of Fraction and Ferry’s first story bearing an uncanny resemblance to the first is a bit off-putting. It doesn’t feel like there’s any forward momentum whatsoever.
The one big saving grace is Ferry’s art, which (along with Matt Hollingsworth’s colors) is drop-dead gorgeous. I love that Ferry is able to bring a softness to characters like Kelda, but at the same time a rough and powerful look to the Thor, or Thoth’s race. It’s an expansive, larger-than-life style, and it lends itself well to the double-page spread layouts that still allow for a lot of panels but also for particularly wide and long images. Even something as simple as a ruined tower of Asgard looks majestic here, and that’s long before we get spaceships, the World Tree, or Oklahoma landscape. Ferry’s art is, in a word, breathtaking.
“Thor” still holds a lot of promise, but for now it’s in need of a slightly faster pace. Watching Thor mope for two issues isn’t the most exciting of stories, and with nothing else moving quickly either it makes me wonder if the real replacement for Asgard in the Nine Worlds was a dimension full of molasses. Here’s to a slightly quicker pace next month.