Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Thor 7, originally released April 15th, 2015.
Taylor: Recently I visited a friend who I’ve known for a long time. As we tend to do, we watched bad action movies, with the features this time being Commando and the more recent John Wick. Both movies feature a ridiculously high body count, the cause of which is a thin plot filled in with a lot of action scenes. Generally, audiences tend to love action, but after John Wick killed what was probably his 42nd mobster, I found the action scenes growing stale. And therein lies the rub with an action sequence whether it be on film or in a comic book: too much of a good thing makes it bad. Thor 7 is an issue that is basically all action and despite the dangers of too much action, it’s a great issue. Why you may ask? The answer is the astounding art of Russell Dauterman.
Thor is facing off with the Destroyer, controlled by Cul and sent under the order of Odin. It’s a bloody fight and Thor pulls every trick out of her book to defeat the armor. Just as the tide of the fight is turning, the Odinson and Freyja appear with a host of warriors to help Thor in her quest. Elsewhere, we get tantalizing clues as to the identity of Thor. Could it be that she is really Roz Solomon?
This issue is as straightforward as they come. Thor has to defeat a powerful enemy and the only way to do that is with brute strength. That this story line makes up the majority of the issue should make this issue fairly boring. After all, who wants 20 pages of punches with little actual event? Despite this — or perhaps because of it — issue 7 is actually a wonderful read due to the wonderful work of Dauterman.
Dauterman has always been an asset to this series, and in this issue we get every reason why that is the case. Take, for example, the above mentioned battle. At one point, the Destroyer has control of Thor’s hammer, a seemingly precarious situation for our heroine. Little does the Destroyer know, however, that this is actually to its disadvantage.
Using her connection to Mjolnir, Thor flings the Destroyer from place to place while it grasps her weapon. In the second panel Dauterman shows us what this looks like using a technique we’ve seen in previous issues. For my money, I never get tired of seeing Mjolnir whipped around and ramming into enemies. There’s a certain pleasure derived from tracing its path. This path is pretty herky-jerky and the panels reflect that motion with dramatic diagonal angles. It mirrors the action and makes this scene seem all the more brutal. In addition, the background of the third panel is highlighted in yellow, showing us what must be a particularly brutal hit for the Destroyer. This flash of color mimics fight scenes from cinema and videogames by flashing a bright color to shock us into almost feeling a heavy hit.
Lest we think Dauterman is a one-trick pony, this issue also displays his ability to draw panels that are simply beautiful to look at. The secondary story line follows Dario and Malekith as they search for blood to sacrifice to the ice giant skull that precipitated this whole event. To get this blood, Dario and Malekith choose from the ten realms in the World Tree but settle on Alfheim — a land populated only by innocent fairies.
This scene is at once horrifying and hilarious. One one hand, it’s a slaughter of innocent, helpless creatures who can’t defend themselves. However, it’s also downright funny. There are a lot of details in this panel that make it darkly comic. Check out how the fairies have a wooden gun. Or how they have a unicorn to ride! Or how about the way Malekith and Dario are obviously enjoying this slaughter. The bright colors used give the scene a storybook quality but the person being gored in half displays just how violent the scene really is. Maybe a better person wouldn’t find this scene funny, but that person isn’t me. And as one last note, the map in the background is simply just a nice touch. It reminds one of The Hobbit, adding to the charm and horror of the scene.
Spencer, I really enjoyed this issue! It’s action packed, has some nice intrigue, and is even funny. All of this, and I didn’t even touch upon Roz Solomon! What thoughts do you have on her, Spencer, is she Thor?
Spencer: Oh, Thor’s almost definitely Roz Solomon (and I’m psyched about that — I fell in love with Roz the very moment I first discovered her, and was pulling for her to become Thor as soon as the new female Thor was announced) — I’m 99% sure of it. All the evidence points towards her and has for a while, and if I have any doubt at all in this conclusion, it’s only because it seems too obvious — and because writer Jason Aaron is still making such a big deal about Thor’s identity on the letters page. What’s the red herring here: Roz herself, or the hints that Thor’s not Roz?
Anyway Taylor, I agree with you 100% that I absolutely, unreservedly love this issue with all my heart, for all the reasons you mentioned and more. I loved seeing Roz again, and getting to see that even before she gained the power of Thor, she was still a hero in her own right.
Hey, look! Roz has the motives, means, and opportunity to become Thor — but I guess we already covered that, huh? Roz has this indomitable passion that’s hard not to love, and assuming she is Thor, it’s absolutely exhilarating to see that passion turned into power during Thor’s last stand against the Destroyer later in the issue. Thor has nothing else to prove — she’s earned her name and earned her powers — she’s just a righteous force standing up to evil. She’s everything Thor should be.
Thor 7 really is that simple: Thor is unabashedly good, Odin and Cul are unabashedly dicks, and Malekith and Agger are about as unabashedly, wholeheartedly evil as anyone can be. In the hands of a lesser creative team this could easily become boring, but thankfully, Aaron, Dauterman, and colorist Matthew Wilson are one top-notch team. Aaron handles the pacing perfectly, following the charming Roz/Coulson prologue with explosive action and cutting away at just the right times so as not to overwhelm the reader with fighting, but never straying from the central fight long enough to lose momentum (each cut-away is one or two pages at the most).
Really though, it’s the tour de force team-up of Dauterman and Wilson that truly elevates Thor 7 to greatness. We’ve talked plenty about how fantastic Dauterman’s action sequences are, but that’s still not enough — let’s examine another page of his:
Those first two panels are just so fantastic — the difference in power between Thor and the Destroyer is immediately discernible, and there’s also a level of comedy to be found in the smash-cut between the two panels. Still, what’s most impressive to me is the way Dauterman informs character by means of Thor’s appearance. She’s progressively more battered as the scene progresses, but also progressively more determined. Did you need more proof that Thor’s resilient, powerful, or that she never gives up? All the proof you’ll ever need is right there on the page — you don’t even need to read to see it.
Really, when it comes to acting, facial expressions, and informing character via appearances, Dauterman’s just as on point with every character throughout the entire issue. Just take a peek at how blissful Malekith looks slaughtering light elves in the image Taylor posted. That tells you everything you need to know about Malekith, right? One look at him and it’s obvious he’s unhinged. Considering how serious the cast of Thor 7 can be, though, I think my favorite expression actually comes courtesy of Roz early in the issue.
Again, Dauterman captures Roz’s playful attitude instantly, providing some fun comic relief in a more serious (if absolutely thrilling!) issue. Really, Roz’s attitude throughout this entire prologue is an effective compliment to the action, showing that Roz is a good enough agent to fight, crack jokes, and lie to Coulson all at the same time, but still giving us proof that there’s a real live human being with a personality under that cool S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent exterior.
As effective and vital as Dauterman’s work is, though, Matthew Wilson’s colors are just as essential. It can’t be understated how vital Wilson’s colors are in establishing mood, be it the contemplative blacks and blues of the moon and the Earth above it or the harsh reds and oranges that only grow more hellish as Thor and the Destroyer’s battle rages on. Then there’s the effects: from the Bifrost’s portals to Malekith’s dark trail throughout the ten realms, Wilson creates effects unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
The most important effect is, of course, Thor’s lightning, which appears to be all Wilson’s work (but please forgive/correct me if I’m wrong on that). The sheer complexity of the lightning’s path is impressive enough, but I’ve also always been fond of the way the intensity of the lightning clues us into Thor’s current power levels and emotional state.
There’s actually one page in Thor 7 that I feel embodies every single good thing about Aaron, Dauterman, and Wilson’s work:
First of all we’ve got Wilson giving us lightning unlike anything we’ve ever seen in this title before. Then we’ve got the comedy of those cows, which is a great gag, flawlessly executed and perfectly timed to transition us from the intensity of the battle to the charming reunion in the bottom row of panels. Finally we’ve got Dauterman’s interpretation of Thor — she switches from fierce and unstoppable (in panel one) to sweet and elegant (the final two panels) all on the same page without missing a beat. I’m in awe, really.
There’s nothing wrong with a simple story, and simple as it may be, Aaron’s story in this issue is strong enough that it would be more than enjoyable even with just a competent artist working on it — but with Dauterman and Wilson at the helm it’s become something truly special. I know our new Thor needs to be handled by many creators in order to become a fixture in the Marvel Universe, and I know that no creative team lasts forever, but I still dread the day Dauterman decides to leave Thor — and with a Secret Wars mandated hiatus rapidly approaching, that feels like a legitimate concern. Still, I’m trying not to worry — for the moment I’m just going to bask in the glory of this issue, because Thor 7‘s one helluva book to lose yourself in.
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