Today, Patrick and (guest writer) The Freakin’ Animal Man are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 10, originally released July 17th, 2013.
Patrick: Oh, I got this one: there are three Thors. They represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Together, they are the christian God, separate, but still one, and they’re in danger of being wiped out by someone who hates God(s). No, wait, maybe it’s a joke: “three Thors walk into a bar. They all order mead.” No, wait – it’s a Shakespearean tragedy, and Gorr is like Othello, driven to murdering those he cares about because he’s too wrapped up in a single thought. Shit, there’s something archetypal about this narrative, but it’s hard to nail down what that is, exactly.
With the three Thors scattered and defeated, Gorr declares it Godbomb-time. His wife, elated that her husband has finally completed his life’s masterwork, praises Gorr as her god. There’s a brief “what did you call me?” before Gorr stabs his own wife, killing her instantly. Then he grabs Young Thor and drags him inside the Godbomb, intending to add the last few drops of blood to his deiticidal cocktail. The problem, for Gorr anyway, is that his son witnesses this, and decides to rescue Thor The Avenger from a volcano – which is pretty good news for Thor. But the very good news comes when Gorr’s son tells the God of Thunder that he will pray for Thor to kill his father. Prayer seems to be the trick, as all three Thors, along with hundreds of other enslaved gods, are simultaneously freed and emboldened to strike back against Gorr. So Thor the Avenger solves the Godbomb issue the only way he knows how: smacking it with two Mjolnirs at once.
But wait a minute – that makes the bomb explode? Whoops. Exactly what happens in the final moments of this issue is totally ambiguous. The issue — as the rest of the series — has been so chock full of Esad Ribic’s beautiful, expressive artwork, and that last page is sort of a curveball. In fact, it’s possible that Ribic didn’t produce anything for that last page, as all I see is Ive Svorcina’s colors and Joe Sabino’s letters.
If this is the bomb successfully detonating, then the creative team has picked the perfect way to demonstrate it: with the complete annihilation of Ribic’s divine art. It’s amazingly simple and graceful.
Actually, there’s a lot of simplicity about the final chapters of this story. Jason Aaron always affects and appropriately King Jamesian cadence when writing for Thor, which always elevates the story to a mythic level. This issue also streamlines the storytelling to be equally mythic. Instead of traversing space and time and incorporating vikings and Avengers and whatever, this battle is just Thors (and family) vs. Gorr (and family). Gorr is unable to keep his family united behind his ideological crusade, and his own son turning on him is going to be his downfall. That’s a classic concept, Shakespearean in its simplicity. It’s immediately understandable, and the stakes are crystal clear.
Speaking of crystal clear – man, how rough is it to get reconfirmation that Gorr is just a rotten creature? So much of this series has been given over to making his perspective sympathetic – a fucking Herculean task, considering he spends his whole life murdering things. His quest was ideological, and it’s hard to argue with his desire to make the gods pay for all suffering they’ve caused over the millenia. But then he kills his wife because she says that he his her god. We’ve talked a lot in these reviews about what it means to be a “god” in this world, but I’m starting to believe that all it takes to be a god is someone believing that you are. If someone starts to worship the God Butcher, then the God Butcher is also a god. This is where his ideology breaks down, and the only way to fix it is to murder his wife and immediately deny what she said. Check out the intensity and severity of his face as Ribic renders it in this moment.
It’s nice to see this story narrowing in on a single inevitable conclusion, though, honestly I don’t know where you go from GODBOMB DETONATION. Perhaps the bomb will now also destroy Gorr, erasing him — and therefore the bomb itself — from history, resurrecting all the fallen gods. Yes, yes, paradox: I know. But look at that last page again – something crazy is happening.
With that, I’m going to turn things over to our good friend, The Freakin’ Animal Man. FAM, do you wish we would have seen how King Thor made it back to the planet, or is it enough to know that the power of prayer brought him back? And what about Thor’s daughters? They talk some pretty good shit when they’re trapped – you think they’re going to be able to kick some Butcher-ass now that they’re free?
Freakin’ Animal Man: How does King Thor return to the planet? You could say the power of prayer, you could go the Huey Lewis and The News answer and say it’s the power of love…but me? I say it’s magic, and when it’s magic, you ain’t gotta explain shit… and I’ll come back to this later…
But seriously, this is a turn for Thor that was definitely called for. Thor has been given one of the best touch ups on the reboot. Before there were stories of Enchantress making a demon out of a guy’s neck and dream monsters that ate dreams and whatever. Decent at best, but all wrapped up in being over complex and convoluted. Jason Aaron took the opportunity in the reboot to start back at square one. It’s simple, it’s somewhat predictable, but goddamn is it fantastic!
I also saw several of the archetypes in this saga you mentioned. You could definitely argue it’s the Trinity of Christianity and such, but I think the most interesting part of the story is Gorr’s motivation. His desire to kill Gods and his reasoning for doing so is fascinating. While arguably justifiable, the whole endeavor gets out of hand, leading him to be the obvious villain. The whole thing reminds me a lot of Princess Mononoke.
Gorr is also a character I wish we had more time with. Something of great note about everyone’s favorite god slayer is his physical transformation. When we first met him, he was a shadowy smug asshole with some ugly shadow pets. Now in issue 10, we’ve got this bitter, older Gorr in a cloak of shadows, complete with wings and weapons, which is pretty godlike. He’s bent over, his dialogue is a lot more direct, and he’s a lot scarier for it. I think your assumption about him being godly and effected by the bomb is very likely, if nothing else, his changed appearance suggests he has indeed transformed himself to be a deity of sorts.
The art in this entire series has been staggering. Instead of the typical Photoshop feel, Thor God of Thunder has got a unique feel with Esad Ribic giving massive amounts of detail and Ive Svorcina coloring it less like an everyday cape comic, and more like illustrations of intense science fiction books. The art really is in its own league, especially in character expressions.
It’s even more impressive with these alien creatures, with black eyes and no real nose, to be able to project such emotions. I usually find it hard to feel empathy for fictional creatures as they’re less relatable or believable, but the details that go into Gorr’s family is perfect and really makes them all the more tragic.
Patrick brought up ambiguity a few times in his write-up, and I wanted to elaborate more on that. The issue is packed with ambiguous moments. Why exactly did each Thor end up where they did? How did King Thor get back so fast? How did Gorr’s magic covering the hammers all of a sudden just disappear? What happened in the GodBomb? I’ve noticed in other series there is this huge effort to leave no questions unanswered, leading to exposition and word balloons up the freakin’ wazoo. Thor’s creative team could have focused on how draining gods of their powers makes you live forever, or how one child’s lack of faith in his father could be the father’s undoing, but by not choosing a specific answer they accomplish two great things. 1. The story keeps moving, blowing past the stuff no one cares about so we can watch Thor show rather than tell. 2. It makes the story more mythical. What religious deity explained their story fully and not left any room for questions? The Bible’s been around back since forever and we have a more interpretations of it than there are Norse Gods. By leaving questions out there, it makes it very reminiscent of ancient mythological tales, and isn’t that what Thor should be about? These are signs that Thor is going in the right direction.
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