Following the events of “Original Sin,” the winds of change have arrived in Asgardia, heralding the return of Odin and seeing Thor through the loss of his ability to wield Mjolnir. With Thor doubtful and in mourning, a new hero must rise to fill his legendary boots — a new hero, that is, if not a new face. Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman set up the board with “Thor” #1, paving the way for a new legacy with astounding artwork and buoyant characterizations.
In short, “Thor” #1 is a transitionary piece that shifts the focus from the Odinson to the new Thor; though the new Thor certainly appears throughout the issue, she saves her heroic debut for the last few pages, with Odinson getting a good chunk of page time. Aaron and Dauterman build subtly towards this reveal, syncing up all the frustrations that lead to the final reveal in a climactic full page spread. Nevertheless, the choice comes as an awesome surprise, even if it ultimately makes sense in the grand scheme of the issue. The wait is more than worth it.
Though Odinson carries a bulk of the narrative, he really gets very few lines. As the title shifts from Odinson to new Thor, this choice comes across as sensible, if heartbreaking. Dauterman pulls a lot of the weight here, and he does so magnificently; in build, Thor looks as strong as ever, but everything else about him — his hunched posture, his heavy brow, the tears that line his eyes — exudes his helplessness and rage. Through Dauterman’s spectacular figure work, readers can easily pick up on exactly how Thor is feeling as he seeks to redefine himself as a hero. Thor’s silence may be deafening, but Dauterman’s work speaks volumes.
Where Thor becomes a man of few words, Odin and Freyja fill in for him as they bicker about the state of politics in Asgarida. Though this easily could have dragged, Aaron writes it like a clash of titans, pitting Freyja’s icy rage against Odin’s blustering hot temper. Watching the sparks fly makes for a highly entertaining read, balancing out the gravity of the situation with Freyja’s sass and Odin’s over-the-top fury.
Letterer Joe Sabino handles this huge amount of dialogue gracefully, fitting in multiple bubbles without once obscuring the main players or even the gathering crowd. Further, Sabino inserts a wonderful little sequence between Odin and his ravens, Hugin and Munin, as the two birds engage in a quick exchange marked by their own distinct font that conveys their croaky speech spectacularly.
Likewise, Dauterman’s work excels beyond his figures (although Freyja’s regality, Odin’s cantankerous moodiness, and Malekith’s whimsical depravity are wonders in and of themselves); he adds a deft nuance to the scenery as well. For instance, he puts the enormity and power of the Ice Giants in perspective by pitting them against Roxxon’s attack sharks, which look like guppies in comparison. Similarly, as Thor storms away from his bickering parents on the moon to go “home,” Dauterman frames him between Asgardia and earth. His layouts are ingenious: dynamic, cinematic, overlapping, different on every page, but easy to follow.
Colorist Matthew Wilson uses a palette that leans on dark blues for this issue as he bounces between deep sea and outer space, subtly linking the alien nature of the two environments. With this pervading darkness, Wilson’s effects for other scenes — such as orange glow of fire, the Asgardians’ bright clothing, or Roxxon’s neon green interface technology — pop against the backgrounds, adding a whole other dimension to the human (and Asgardian!) touch on these desolate places.
Aaron and Dauterman’s “Thor” #1 may be gorgeous and fun, but it is only the beginning. Though new Thor’s path to Mjolnir has been cleared, we have yet to see her in action and there are many questions still to be answered; however, the road so far is bombastic, gripping, and heartfelt. While Odinson could never truly be replaced, Thor is sure to wend her way into readers’ hearts — if she hadn’t already.