Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Lorenzo are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 7, originally released April 10th, 2013.
Patrick: We like our superheroes powerful. Even someone like Batman, who we like to think of as human — and therefore vulnerable — but even Bruce Wayne has a secret power: he always wins. So, like, what can any writer possibly throw at these characters to actually challenge them? End of the world? Piece of cake! Thor: God of Thunder has constructed a villain whose sole purpose is to Kill All The Gods. Even that’s not enough, so the God Butcher also has the ability to travel indiscriminately throughout time, simultaneously purposing resources from the past and attacking heroes while they were vulnerable. Fortunately, the deck is also stacked in the opposite direction as Thor teams up with himself for some hilariously grandiose heroics.
Following his days-long nightmare of being tortured by the God Butcher, Thor grabs a little R&R with a hot viking babe. But it turns out that Thor’s a little too on-edge to enjoy either R or R – he’s haunted by visions of Gorr’s return. And then Gorr returns, seemingly from the future, and enslaves the Thunder God. In the far-flung future, Old Man Thor and Modern Thor ready themselves for a final battle with Gorr, which basically means raiding the Asgardian wine-cellar. With blatant disregard for drunk driving laws, the elder Thors take off aboard Skithbanthir, the “most vaunted of the longships of Asgard,” and set out after the God Butcher. But they’d better hurry – in the present day, the Librarian Gods are going over what happened in Omnipotence City a few issues back. One such Librarian God discovers that everyone might be fucked when he learns Shadrak (remember Shadrak?) helped the God Butcher develop a weapon. Y’see, Shadrak is the God of Bombs.
From my snappy summary, it might sound like this is the grimmest issue in an already ultra-grim series. The scale of the catastrophes in play here are ridiculous, and writer Jason Aaron has started to find the fun in this tragedy. The humor of this issue is typified by the worlds Old Man Thor uses to steel Modern Thor for the fight ahead: “This is no mere Ragarok come upon us. This is an ending beyond all known endings. This is apocalypse unparalleled.” Comics always have a rough time raising the stakes: after saving the world, how do you go up from there? This “apocalypse unparalleled” is the most hyperbolic disaster ever – outrageous to the point of being absurd.
My favorite example of this absurdity comes as the two Thors discuss the time-travel situation they find themselves in. First, Old Thor says, kind of incredulously “You act as though you’ve never time traveled before.” It’s like he’s chiding him for never being on a plane before or never trying sushi. Modern Thor’s obstinate “Many times” snipes back with that same kind of mundane snarkiness. “Duh, of course I’ve had sushi before.” But this is time travel we’re talking about here, and time travel makes for some sticky fucking storytelling. Unpacking the logic of a time travel story can range from “hard” to “impossible,” and Aaron gleefully ignores any questions we might have about the way this specific time travel works. He even goes so far as to have the Thors pose some questions, only to have them waved away with a simple “yeah, yeah, time travel sucks.”
In fact, the time travel is so sticky here, I’m not exactly clear on where or when the Godbomb (further absurdity: “Godbomb” is one word) threat is coming from. I think what I’m seeing is that Present-Gorr went back to collect Past-Thor, and enslaved him in the future to build a bomb designed by Present-Shadrak. But the Librarian Gods of the present seem really concerned with the Godbomb too, so who knows? But I think that’s part of the point: the scope of Gorr’s plan — and the appropriate Thor response — is the stuff of grand mythological epics, not to be understood by we mere mortals. As usual, Esad Ribic is more than up to the challenge of drawing these kind of heroics.
And as much fun as Ribic’s fully armed and armored Thors are, the real hero-worship in this issue comes from Young Thor’s sinewy body. The first couple pages — as Thor seeks comfort in the arms of two muscly women — border on beefcake, but if we’re not mean to hold Thor up to impossible physical standards, who else could we possibly? His nudity is actually a multipurpose decision – especially as he’s confessing his fears to his viking mistresses, it serves to make him vulnerable. Hell, he even needs to ask her for help; sexy help, but help nonetheless. I absolutely love when post-coital Thor has to charge out into the snowy night to fight Gorr’s shadow-dogs. It casts his violence in a more intimate light, implying that his lust for blood is as elemental as his lust for ladies*.
With that, I’ll pass it off to our guest writer for the week, Lorenzo. How did you like this re-focuses on Thor(s) after last-month’s expose on Gorr? Do you find the exaggerated dramatics of this issue as much fun as I do or is it too bitter a pill for you to swallow? And lastly, if you had to lie about what god you were, what would you say (bearing in mind that Shadrak already used “kittens and coconuts” and “pancakes and tambourines”)?
*In the interest of full disclosure, I had a much crasser end to this sentence, but my girlfriend talked me out of it.
Lorenzo: Definitely calzones and soft jazz, Patrick. There’s just something about enjoying a decadent piece of pizza pie while listening to a smooth sax album that puts me in a divine state of mind. With that being said, however, I can never get enough of a certain god of thunder, especially when he’s the alleged star in his own book.
While I appreciate and applaud Jason Aaron for giving me some much needed back story on Gorr and his god-butchery ways, I can’t help but note that Gorr is such a one-note character. It says it all in his chosen moniker, really: the God Butcher. And that is what he is, to a fault: he butchers gods and nothing else. Does he enjoy long walks on the beach? Does he like building model planets for his son to play in? Does he even like the color black? We may never know; and that’s fine for what the current story demands – it demands an outright villain – but he’s certainly not a deep enough character to focus too many stories on, especially when it’s to the exclusion of the eponymous character.
So yes, I am thrilled to have Thor back in the protagonist role – all three of him. By this point in the ongoing narrative, Thor is essentially providing himself with his own cast of stellar supporting characters. First, we have Young Buck Thor – brazen, testosterone-fueled, and possessed of a fierce lust for sex and blood that just so happened to (almost) get fulfilled one after the other in this issue. Too bad his enemies were “bloodless dogs” then, minus the satisfying viscera. Next, I find myself admiring Old Man Thor – a gruff, ornery bastard of a god who is “more exquisitely-bearded” than both of his younger time-selves put together. This Odin-Thor is a nice counterpart to the brasher Young Thor and the less experienced, modern one. He displays a gallant romanticism that is tempered by a world-weariness that exemplifies some of the best of the superheroic fantasy genre.
Finally, we have Modern Thor, who is a stirring mixture of his two temporally-disparate other selves. He has the fire and piss of his younger self, while maintaining some of the levity and insight of his senior body. He assures himself, for instance, that “one drink wouldn’t hurt” when he discovers the All-Father’s seemingly endless stock of spirits of both mortal and divine origin; and he reasons that “perhaps this is one of those alternate futures that the X-Men are always going on about” when he’s trying to reconcile the fact that he grows up to be his father in the distant future. Both are great bits of character that serve to add nuance to the robust persona that is the thunder god.
As for the hilariously epic stakes of this issue, and of the greater story surrounding it, I am in full agreement with you, Patrick. Thor: God of Thunder is an immensely fun and exciting book precisely because of it. Aaron knows that when your main protagonist(s) is a god, you have to step up your game in terms of escalation, tensions, and conflict to compensate for that reality. He does exactly this when he introduces the notion that Shadrak is a god of bombs (because of course he is) that was coerced into helping Gorr construct the ultimate doomsday weapon – the Godbomb – that would annihilate all of the gods that have ever existed in the multiverse. Now, the mere synopsis of that plot may sound a little farfetched in theory to the casual person on the street – and it may well be in the hands of less talented creators than Aaron and Esad Ribic – but what Aaron and Ribic excel in is the execution of said plotline.
Between Aaron’s fantastic ear for dialogue, skillful blend of multiple time periods, and excellent character building with his lead guy(s), the writer is able to make the implausible sound plausible and have his characters seem relatable by proxy. By the same token, Ribic’s artwork is nothing short of classical and just plain pretty. Whatever high-concept setting or world Aaron has in mind for the story, Ribic produces it with a style and flair that makes me happy that he’s working on such an outlandish tale as Thor. Just check out that last page, which contains an intimidating portrait of divine doom for the gods, that sets the stage for deicidal goodness in the issues to come.
And with that, I would like to thank you, Patrick, and the fine people at Retcon Punch, for giving me the opportunity to discuss this excellent comic. I just hope that in the weeks to come, there will still be a Thor title to enjoy, and not a comic headlined by Gorr: God of the Floppy Strands, instead.
Lorenzo is a part-time writer and a full-time couch psychiatrist. When he’s not diagnosing a loveseat with a case of mistaken identity, he is sitting down somewhere enjoying the latest issues and trades of all of his favorite comics titles, which are legion and entirely too pricey. After all, imaginary jobs can only pay for so many comics.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?