Following all of the Thoriffic announcements that came out of Comic-Con International in San Diego this past weekend, this issue of "Thor, the Mighty Avenger," is sure to scratch an itch or two from casual and diehard fans alike. My colleague, Chad Nevett, said of the first issue that it "reads like the first half of a pilot episode for a pretty good Thor cartoon series." Make no mistake, this issue is very much the second half of that pilot, complete with a recap of what happened in the first half of this story. Samnee's economy of line is underscored by his command of chiaroscuro. Without over-rendering anything, the world Samnee creates has mass and substance. His characters, besides having a living texture, are expressive and vital. Thor marvels at the wonders inside Jane Foster's refrigerator and Jane's empathy towards the Thunder god is nearly palpable. Hyde is crazed and creepy, powerfully built and hulking over Jane Foster and Desmond Tucker. There is a cartoony quality to Samnee's work that enhances his drawing and makes the whole book bouncier. It's an interesting combination, to me, to see an artist whose work is so steeped in contrast deliver a story that is lively, with characters that are animated as though they leapt off of character sheets at an animation studio. Wilson's coloring helps ground this series. The colors are spot on for the characters involved, but toned down enough as not to be too loud, bold, or even garish. Furthermore, Wilson's lighting glows on the page, a nice effect for a character so closely tied to stormy weather. Langridge gives Samnee plenty to work with in this issue, pitting Thor against Hyde, and setting Thor to discover this strange new world through the friendship bestowed upon him by Jane Foster. There are some chuckle-worthy moments that Langridge fully entrusts Samnee to deliver, with great results. Langridge's story is filled with enough bits of Thor's Marvel-based mythology to make this title an instant hit for experienced Thor fans, but Langridge keeps it loose enough to make this book instantly approachable to Thor rookies. As for the all-ages thing, it's a book that can be shared across the ages, but some younger readers (my youngest is eight, and easily distracted) may not invest themselves as fully as more seasoned readers. My (soon-to-be) ten-year-old and (soon-to-be) thirteen-year-old both enjoy this book. The older of the two finds it much more compelling, however, as she recently had a Norse mythology lesson over the course of a couple months this past school year. Additionally, there is one scene wherein a character is shot, but I leave it to discerning parents to determine if that's age appropriate for your own younger reader. Older readers, like me, will find this book to be quite a treasure. I've noticed that a number of the all ages reads of late seem to be more enjoyable than their "in continuity" counterparts. This title is no exception. Marvel is cranking out Thor related titles with a vengeance lately (with many more to come in approaching months) but this series is the main Thor series I have identified to be on my pull list.
PREVIEW: Heroes in Crisis #8