Battleworld’s police procedural gets going in “Thors” #2, as the Thors hunt for the killer(s) of Beta Ray Bill and their other victims. Pencilers Chris Sprouse and Goran Sudzuka have some fun drawing all the many gods of Thunder and their detailed, delineated world, while Jason Aaron’s script keeps the investigation moving quickly. This is admittedly the filler chapter of the mystery, where traditional pacing doesn’t call for too many revelations or twists, but it’s still a technically skilled issue that lets the reader in on the world of the Thors. This series continues to offer a solid diversion.
Sprouse, Sudzuka and inkers Karl Story and Dexter Vines offer up a detailed, defined aesthetic that mirrors the Thors’ black-and-white worldview. The figures are clear, the armor and faces are detailed and the backgrounds are clearly depicted. When the Thors all attack together, it’s an impressive-looking spectacle of solid bodies and swinging hammers. Plus, there’s the added fun of seeing Thors from across the ages and universes all on one page. The firmness of the inking and clarity of the pencils help to capture some of the “Thor” myth and might while still making this look like part of the real world. There are certainly discrepancies in various panels, and some pages are stronger than others, but “Thors” has a recognizable look and feel all in all.
Colorist Marte Gracia’s approach is similarly thoughtful. It would be tempting to go full-on noir, all moody and obscured, but Gracia adds clarity to the darkness instead. The Thors walk through a world with plenty of shadow, but it’s always easy to see what’s there. Colors don’t blend or shift and, as with the linework, there’s an artistic reflection of the Thors’ rigid code there. This is a world of aesthetic grays, but not moral ones.
As far as the script, Aaron keeps the book moving, even if the mystery doesn’t progress much. Readers hoping for a murder mystery based on clues and detective work rather than police work won’t love this issue, but it’s undeniably a very “Thor” approach to problem-solving. As with the artistic team, Aaron clearly enjoys the references and Easter eggs from “Thor” continuity, from Donald Blake to Throg, and — as a result — most of the work done here reads like necessary world-building. The one exception is the fight between Ultimate Thor and Unworthy Thor. Even the characters seem to find it simply obligatory, saying, “Come. Let’s get this over with.” It feels extraneous in the moment, but it does at least feels like it will lead to something.
However, there’s a certain tone-deafness to this issue. The Thors round up the Hulks and Sinisters, literally referring to them as “the usual suspects,” and brutalize them in a rough mix of investigation and retaliation. While this is in-genre for what “Thors” is riffing on, it’s a little weird to root for police profiling and abuse of power in 2015. Now, this is only the second issue, and part of what makes it difficult to review serialized literature on an issue-by-issue basis is that I don’t know what’s up next. However, thus far, there isn’t much narrative irony or in-comic criticism for the behavior. Add in the fact that Loki, the other villain, is portrayed as homeless, and there’s some uncomfortable undertones about whom and how we should criminalize.
“Thors” continues to build on a great premise and pacing. I’m always happy to see Aaron on a “Thor” title, and I’m curious how this multiverse mystery — and Thor the Unworthy’s role in it — will play out.