The God of Thunder's title has gone through another restart, but thankfully Jason Aaron remains as the writer to relaunch it. The adjectiveless Thor #1, painted by Mike Del Mundo, is in fact a new start for Thor, now that Odinson has reclaimed the mantle of God of Thunder. The issues that linger from the previous series, though, haven't been forgotten -- Aaron simply takes the opportunity to largely set them aside to focus on the new status quo. While the Dark Elf Malekith continues to wage war off-panel, Aaron knows there's plenty going on right here on Midgard and Old Asgard, and has a lot of fun bringing readers up to speed.
If any criticism could be levied at all against many of Aaron's past arcs, it's perhaps that they were simply too dark, and sometimes lacked that plain and simple element of fun. Aaron takes note of that with this restart, with a rather tongue-in-cheek and lengthy reintroduction of Thor against a foe who doesn't frequently face off against the Thunder God. The mood is certainly one far lighter than the threat of the God-killing Gor or Mangog, and a welcome change of pace that sets a nice tone for the issue, and possibly the series. Adding to the fun is the returning Thor still finding his legs, bereft of Mjolnir and trying to re-establish his thundersome street cred.
The mostly lighter vibe is embellished by Del Mundo, who counters past series artist Russell Dauterman's beautifully fine-tuned precision with his own equally grandiose ruggedness. His preponderant pale, sea-green backgrounds bring brighter majesty to the foreground characters, and works well in conjunction with the more physical parts of the issue – every punch packs just a little more pop. Del Mundo's lush palette of colors combined with his ethereal style brings out the awe of Aaron's script, demonstrating the same chemistry the pair did on their Weirdworld miniseries during Marvel's last Secret Wars event.
While Aaron establishes new directions for Thor and some of the supporting cast, he doesn't completely ignore his recent story developments. Characters who were longstanding and important players before continue to have a presence now, to varying degrees, maintaining a connection to this series and his previous ones. Considering the very lead of the series has changed, Aaron ensures that the switch isn't a total upheaval, and in fact reads like a logical next chapter in the life of Thor -- whoever it is calling themselves that.
That's not all Aaron delivers in this supersized issue, though. A 10-page backup, drawn by Christian Ward, features the return of another incarnation of the Thunder God who was a major part of Aaron's past arcs. The bonus story is a little more typical of the kind of story readers have grown accustomed to with Aaron on the title -- a little grim, perhaps, but beautifully told. Ward's illustrations are no less gorgeous than Del Mundo's, and lavishly capture the more cosmic nature of this story. While the feature might initially seem comfortable as a benign one-off, the end of the story promises its continuation in an upcoming issue.
Thor #1 is a welcome return of the classic God of Thunder, which should please comic traditionalists, but doesn't jettison the continuity that got the character to this point. It's delivered with enough of a different flavor to feel fresh, but also plenty familiar, while standing to soon revisit the unresolved story elements. Aaron finds that sweet spot between the old and the new, and Del Mundo and Ward convey it all beautifully.