Overview

Thor: Man of War

Review

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Thor: Man of War

Credits

  • Words: Matt Fraction
  • Art: Clay Mann & Patrick Zircher
  • Inks: Victor Olazaba & Patrick Zircher
  • Colors: Paul Mounts & June Chung
  • Story Title: Man of War
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $3.99
  • Release Date: Dec 3, 2008

The origin of the Marvel Comics version of Thor and his exile to Midgard to learn humility is retold in the latest one-shot, Thor: Man of War.

Set in an undefined past, Thor: Man of War recounts the tale of a war crazy Thunder God rampaging throughout the nine worlds in hopes of inciting a confrontation with Odin the All-Father. Rather than a direct engagement, Odin sends Brunnhilda and her Valkyries to take Thor down. Odin realizes however, that if he wants a job done, he must do it himself. The ensuing confrontation between father and son falls into a familiar pattern as he attempts to teach his son the humility befitting the heir to the throne of Asgard.

Given the infrequency of the regular Thor series, I am grateful for the series of one-shots that Marvel has produced featuring its most popular mythological character. At 48 pages, they are a satisfying slice of superhero action pie, but having nothing of the bitter aftertaste of a heavy continuity laden ongoing series. Fraction effectively captures the larger than life melodrama of the Norse pantheon infused with the Marvel Comics additions. Brunnhilda, the blonde Valkyrie, and former member of the New Defenders was always a favorite of mine, despite a relative dearth of appearances. She is illustrated with mythic relish by Clay Mann, and provides a formidable adversary and ultimately a powerful ally for Thor as they battle a mountain-sized ice monster.

Matt Fraction's reputation precedes him. My only exposure to his work is these Thor one-shots, and based on them, it is a well earned reputation. His lyrical caption narration transports the reader into the esoteric world of myth. This is not the stuff of the character driven superhero, it is the stuff of legend. Where Bulfinch and Hamilton chronicled the oral and written traditions of classic Norse mythology, Fraction is expanding the canon for the Marvel Universe Norse Gods. His use of the Destroyer armor in its mythical context was a welcome touch. Without giving anything away, I was very impressed with the way this story and the ones previous portray the myths in a cyclical, many times repeated pattern of stories, rather than as linear history.

With Patrick Zircher, Clay Mann, Olivier Coipel, and Alan Davis handling the artwork on Thor comics over the last year, the thunderer and his cohorts have never looked better. Though Kirby, Simonson, Frenz and others have treated the character beautifully in the past, for the most part it was in a superhero context, with Thor entrenched in his Avengers membership and battling four color foes. This year was the coming out party for the Thor and Asgard of legend.

Though I don't follow the mainstream Marvel Universe too closely, and thus am in the dark about Thor's involvement in Secret Invasion, my appetite for Thor has been well sated by the ongoing series and the sporadic specials that pop up on my pull list.

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