At one point, this comic would have just been a fill-in issue and no one would have noticed too much but, now, it’s still basically a fill-in issue as we wait for the next J. Michael Straczynski issue of the series to hit the stands except that it stands all alone by itself, leading to the question “Did this warrant being published as a four-dollar one shot?” The answer is: no, not really.
If this were a 22-page regular issue of “Thor,” it would probably work a lot better, but expanded to a 32-page one-shot, “The Trial of Thor” doesn’t offer enough substance or novelty. The plot is a rather tepid one with Thor apparently killing innocent people, supposedly as a result of fatigue after nine months of constant battle with Frost Giants. Odin refuses to believe that it’s possible and sends the Warriors Three to investigate — and they prove that it is, indeed, true that Thor is responsible for the deaths of innocents.
Where it gets interesting, or rather dumb, is the means in which the Warriors Three prove Thor’s guilt: magical forensics. Yes, this comic could have been called “CSI: Asgard” without being misleading at all. All that’s missing is a short teaser at the beginning that ends with Fandral removing sunglasses in a dramatic fashion. Even the ultimate solution to the mystery doesn’t ring true with odd scientific-esque reasoning.
Peter Milligan does interject some rather clever bits like the ways that Odin and the Warriors Three react to Thor’s guilt. Odin, first, does everything he can to deny it and, then, is so enraged by the proof that he threatens to tear the Warriors Three’s entrails out the next time he sees them. The trio themselves both know that Thor is guilty, but are also skeptical, reflecting their loyalty. Milligan handles these complex relationships well.
Cary Nord’s art is very hit and miss in this issue with Christina Strain coloring directly off his pencils. Nord has a blocky, cartoony style that also utilizes a lot of heavy blacks, but those two elements often work against one another in this issue. The coloring also is a bit too primary-based and bright, giving it a very animated cartoon feel that doesn’t match the harsh, brutal storytelling. This is a book of extreme violence and rage, but, visually, often looks like a “Marvel Adventures” book.
When Nord is on, he’s very good. The final page is strong, as is his depiction of Thor’s brutal killings. The body language Nord gives Thor in those scenes is both full of rage, but also an almost clumsy off-handed feel, like the actual acts of violence are meant to simply get the victims out of his way.
The ending, as well, is very rushed. While the story, as a whole, feels drawn out and too long, the ending is very abrupt, although, as I said, the final page is great. Compared to last year’s string of Thor one-shots, this just can’t compare. If Milligan ever wants to write a “CSI: Asgard” book, I would give it a look, I must admit.