I liked the idea of the “Astonishing” brand at Marvel getting expanded to other characters and teams, letting people tell stories detached from everything else with the sole goal being a strong comic. But two issues into “Astonishing Thor,” right now all I can think is that a couple more “Astonishing” projects like this and Marvel’s going to kill the brand fairly effectively.
This is a book that moves at a glacial pace, inch by inch. After last month’s cliffhanger of Thor getting knocked across outer space, the follow-up involves two pages of Thor waking up, then four more of him flying through space. Riveting stuff, here, and just over a quarter of the comic to boot. From there we at least get Thor talking to the Collector, who’s arrived on the scene, but until the new cliffhanger kicks in it’s a lot more boredom in store.
I don’t mind a slow-moving comic if there’s a purpose to that pace; say, to set a particularly strong mood, or to introduce us to a fantastical new setting. Neither of those are evident here, though, and it’s hard to keep from feeling that the first two issues could have been merged into one without losing much of anything. I’ve liked a lot of Rodi’s other comics, but this lackadaisical pace isn’t working for me at all. Even when conflicts arise (like the brief scuffles with the Collector), it’s almost like the air is having some sort of sedative pumped into it, as there’s a momentary flash of emotion followed by shifting back to a dull, muted tone.
Mike Choi’s art is all right, but it’s not his strongest work that I’ve seen. Colored directly off of his pencils, it feels a little more stiff and posed than I’m used to seeing from him. Frank D’Armata’s day-glo colors add to the overall strange look of this comic; everything is so saturated and thick that it feels unreal. I know that a comic with Thor flying through space ahead of a living planet with a big face on one side isn’t necessarily the most “real” comic to begin with, but Choi’s art seems to have slipped into the uncanny valley where in an attempt to make everyone look lifelike, we’ve ended up with night of the living creepy mannequins. (Also, someone on the creative team has no idea what a dodecahedron is, considering how many of the shapes in the Gallery of Dodecahedra have distinctly more or less than twelve sides.)
“Astonishing Thor” is, at its core, not astonishing. In a market glutted with Thor comics left and right in preparation for the upcoming movie, this feels like another pitch that got greenlit for no other reason than to have another collection on bookshelves later this year. This is disappointing at best.