Today, Shelby and Ethan are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 9, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Shelby: Religion, mythology, and fantasy: all three have slightly different connotations. Religion refers to a set of beliefs about where we came from and where we’ll end up, generally involving some sort of god(s) and a moral code. My rural Wisconsin, Lutheran upbringing means I tend to default to the Christian God, Three in One, etc., etc. Mythology is more folkloric, a collection stories about heroes and gods: the stories that fuel all religions, but a term often ascribed to the religion of the other. As in, “my beliefs are religion, yours are merely myths.” Fantasy is the imagination that fuels the myths, the crazy daydream that dreamed up the stories in the first place. Personally, I believe it’s the myth, the story, that ties these three together: the imagination creates the story, and the story fosters belief. No where is the connections between religion, mythology, and fantasy more apparent than in Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder.
Finally, we get a chance to meet Mrs. Gorr. She is looking forward to the completion of Gorr’s godbomb, so finally they can be free, so Gorr can be ready to live again. Meanwhile, idiotic Thor Odinson, crotchety King Thor, and grimly determined Thor the Avenger launch an alien/Viking battle in space. Things aren’t going well for Gorr, so he decides to kill the rest of the gods, that their blood will make his weapon stronger. Not the godbomb, his own black, butchering weapon. The epic fight reaches its height when Gorr and the Thors (that will be the name of my comic-themed novelty do-wop band) plunge into the sun. Soon after, godblood rains down on Gorr’s planet, followed by three hammers, and the very gods of thunder themselves.
The thing that really caught my eye this issue was the Omniscient Narrator, a title which becomes fraught with meaning in this mythos-heavy book. This is the first time I’ve really noticed the narrator, I believe because it’s the first time the story is moved forward more by narration than by dialogue between characters.
“Or so the story goes.” This is the first time I’ve thought of this book as a story being told to me instead of merely a story unfolding in front of me. This book has gone from being a story of the gods to being one of the myths that is folded into the religion of this fictional world we are reading about. There’s a telescoping effect of a religion based on a story about a god worshiped by followers of the religion based on the story…and so on and so forth. I took a quick look back, and the Omniscient Narrator started with the Godbomb arc. In any other book, the Omniscient Narrator would strike me as excessively expository, and maybe a little lazy on the writer’s part, but here it elevates the writing to passages out of some religious tome (the Gospel of Aaron, perhaps?).
The fantasy of this book really come to play in Esad Ribic’s art. His immense star fields and badass heroes make the epic nature of this battle between gods that much more realized. The art not only elevates the story to a heavenly scale, it also serves to keep the story from getting bogged down by it’s own theology. Aaron’s banter between the Thors Three is certainly jovial enough, but it’s the sight of Thor Odinson riding a space shark that shoots lasers that really makes my day.
That is the silliest, most awesome thing I have seen in a long time. I feel the inclusion of the sort of scenes one would generally see on the side of a van acknowledge both the character’s cheesier past as well as the pulpy, over-the-top nature of the fantasy genre. Seriously, can I get that image on a t-shirt? Marvel, are you listening, I’ll give you money for it!
Every issue I am more and more convinced the Godbomb will be the death of Gorr. This month, it’s his wife’s fatalistic worry that finally seeing the end of his work will leave Gorr ready to die. He says he’ll be finally ready to live, which sounds to me like a great way to set up his imminent demise. It makes me wonder whose story is being told: Thor’s or Gorr’s? If this is in fact a excerpt from some sort of bible, is it the story of Thor’s triumph over evil, or Gorr’s sacrifice? Would it make a difference to the story? Careful Ethan, we’re in deep water, and here there be space sharks.
Ethan: If a shark shooting lasers from its nostrils DOESN’T make you squee, I don’t want to know you. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.
Laser-sharks aside, this title astounds and delights me in equal measure. Shelby, I adore your fantasy/myth/religion breakdown. This title has leveled some intense concepts at the reader: Gorr’s mother challenges the left-leaning idea that if religion doesn’t deliver, it’s automatically wrong; Gorr posits that no god is pure, thus all are evil. And Thor begins to fill the gap between the two.
You asked the question of what it would be like to find out that our Holy Trinity had been murdered – certainly fits the Watch-Maker theory quite nicely in a way I hadn’t considered before. That line of reasoning makes me wonder in a slightly different direction: what would it be like to not just be in Thor’s current universe, but to actually BE Thor?
In so many ways, Thor is an overgrown child. I appreciated the way this title showcases the Young Thor. He’s an entity with extreme survivability – the only analogue he has with that one time you tore open your knee on the concrete is like the one time he had to battle 80 Frost Giants to the death. He’s irresponsible: by the number of references he makes to Odin bonking heads and restraining himself from bonking heads, it’s clear that the only thing keeping him from trashing the cosmos was an authoritative father.
By the time he reaches All-Fatherhood, he’s matured a little; maybe something about keeping those pesky Nine Realms – and their uncountable inhabitants – intact has changed him, not to mention the unending war with Gorr’s minions and the horror of witnessing the death of every friend he ever knew. He’s developed the awesome power of the Odinforce (or Thor-force, as the case may be) and he has the might to deal some incredible blows against the enemy.
And yet it’s the middle-Thor, the Avenger Thor, who seems the be the favorite of our Omniscent Narrator. While the other two are portrayed with unshakeable will and inconceivable power, the comtemporary Thor is the one who owns the intellectual argument. Young Thor has the carefree initiative, and Old Thor has the extreme force; it’s the Middle Thor who has the strength to doubt.
In this issue, Young and Old Thor are cast as the extreme ends, while our more familiar incarnation is left with the task of trying to find the balance. He FEELS that that he’s a force of nature and he KNOWS that he’s responsible for keeping others safe. No surprise then that he’s the favorite of both Gorr and the Narrator.
And yet, after the trio push Gorr through the heart of their local sun, it’s Gorr who emerges defiant while godblood nourishes the dust of the prison-planet. For all of his single-minded hatred, Gorr emerges as the top-dog. The Emperor Palpatine of this title’s Emperor Strikes Back issue, if you will. It’s with this setup in mind that I can’t wait for our thoughtful, Middle Thor to make his Reformed Darth Vader comeback. Palpatine might have the juice and young Luke might have the passion, but I have the feeling that it’s good ol’ Anakin – midpoint of youthful will and battle-scarred experience – who will end this fight.
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?
Thor the Avenger also has the added bonus of being the character that the audience is mostly likely to glom on to. Even if you say you like King Thor or Odinson better, that’s mostly for novelty purposes. Middle-Thor is the super hero of the marvel universe – the same guy we’re reading / watching in Avengers movies and comics.
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