Bryan Glass steps up to Asgardian storytime with a reimagining of the early days of Thor and Donald Blake. Juxtaposing Blake’s physical trials with the hardships Thor faces, Glass finds a way to blend the two together in a manner that is respectful of the Silver Age origins while ringing true for modern readers. The relationship between Thor and Blake is similar in concept to some of the early Straczynski issues of the current “Thor” series, but this issue has a whole lot more hammer-whirling action than those early JMS issues did.
Liberal adjustments to the tale enable the story to feel more organic, although there are still a great number of caption boxes, as there were in the original “Journey Into Mystery” tale. Glass gives us a Donald Blake who has issues and feelings. Blake is someone we can relate to, someone trying to overcome not only his physical non-conformities, but his mental stress as well.
Huat’s art is splendidly matched for this re-telling. There’s a hint of manga, a high level of detail, and a wide range of emotion, the combination of which, under Huat’s pencils, is quite reminiscent of Art Adams’ Asgard tales in the “New Mutants” and “Uncanny X-Men” annuals of the 1980s. It’s a style that works well for Thor, large and powerful and energetic. Huat’s rendering of Thor’s classic uniform is, well, classic. The flared boot tops, the flowing cape, and winged – with apparently real feathers! – helmet all spring to life in Huat’s drawings. The overall effect is a story that is springy and fun.
Villarrubia’s colors seemed to be smudged, or perhaps it is the composition on the copy I received, but there is a cloudy pallor shadowing the entire issue, as though one of the printing plates was not fully prepared for this story. Villarrubia does a nice job of assembling a palette to push Thor forward, but the aforementioned pallor detracts from the overall, over-the-top coloring such a bold tale truly deserves.
Marvel has really been milking the Asgardian cows quite a bit of late, with no less than four different Thor-related books hitting the shelves this month alone. It is a wonder to me that Marvel still manages to find more stories to tell. More amazing still is the fact that more of these stories are enjoyable and entertaining than those that are not. Nice job, Marvel, of throwing a reprint of part of “Journey Into Mystery” #83 in the back of this issue. Good stuff there, and a nice reflection of the source material the main story draws from.
This is a strong Thor offering and a nice primer for those hoping to get familiar with the Thunder god prior to any of the other offerings currently available or coming up. Glass has updated the tale substantially, but remained true to the heart of the legend of Thor.