Thor: God of Thunder Volume 1 -- The Godbutcher
Written by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by Esad Ribic
3 1/2 Out of 5 Stars
This is my first comic book foray into the world of Thor, so I have no allegiances to previous incarnations or storylines. Despite my love of mythology, I have actively avoided Thor because a) he can look seriously ridiculous in that winged helmet (I'm thinking more of the 60's and 70's incarnations here) and b) I'm not a fan of Thor-on-Earth (or Midgard) stories. For these reasons, Thor: God of Thunder is a good fit for me. The artwork by Esad Ribic is beautifully detailed and realistic, avoiding a contemporary look and opting for muted colors and shadows that give it a weighty, epic feel. Jason Aaron avoids too many Thor-on-Earth storylines and, with the exception of a very brief present day encounter with Ironman, Thor's visits to Midgard consist of 800's A.D. visits to Viking villages for some Asgardian R & R: battles, booze, and babes. Despite liking the character, it's always been difficult for me to suspend disbelief long enough to accept a Norse god in present day times--apparently I have no trouble with men in high-powered iron suits, green giants who are less than jolly, a super serum making a super soldier, hell, slap a cape on anything else and I'm buying--but the gods in the present day has always been a nugget I've had trouble swallowing (this is also part of my aversion to DC's Wonder Woman). Because Thor's interactions with Earth are almost exclusively limited to the place and time period of the people who worshiped him, this never bothered me one whit. Not one whit, I say!
So, on to the story. Yes, as promised, there are three Thors: the young, arrogant Thor who has not proven worthy of Mjolnir; the present day Avenger Thor, who has begun to doubt the worth of the gods to mortals; and the future King Thor, who has succeeded Odin as the All-Father, but is a broken, crippled god waging war by himself. In all three stories, the enemy is Gorr the Godbutcher, a being who, for reasons known only to him, has made it his mission to destroy the pantheons of every culture and every religion throughout space and time. Possessing a curious weapon, Gorr butchers the gods, good and evil alike, to free mortals from their whims. As the three Thors desperately try to stop Gorr (in three different timelines), there will be aliens, time travel, gods never before seen, eternal cities, thunder and lightning, weapons with unpronounceable Norse names, and, by Odin's beard, there will be ale!
It's a fun narrative, although the one bit that doesn't quite work for me is Gorr. I like his style, sure, but he looks like Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. His motives are never quite clear and, when they are, seem pretty cliche. In addition, Gorr's weapon doesn't seem like something that would possess the power necessary to quickly dispatch hundreds of gods with some pretty awesome powers of their own. The idea of a slayer of gods is an intriguing one and I just wish there had been a more original concept behind the why and how of Gorr's death-dealing agenda.