Spencer: To tell a good story, characters need to face consequences for their actions. Just look at Heroes, where characters could quit jobs, disappear for months at a time, or even switch between “good” and “evil” at the drop of a dime without ever facing any consequences, thus giving us little reason to care about what the characters did, since none of it mattered anyway. Contrast that with, say, Breaking Bad, where every decision the characters make, no matter how small, has the chance to ruin their lives; everybody’s actions matter, causing the viewer to become invested in the story and pay close attention to what happens. Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic follow the latter example, fortunately, in Thor: God of Thunder 21, which finds both versions of the titular god dealing with the consequences of actions he took in previous issues. Continue reading
Spencer: As its name would suggest, Thor: God of Thunder is a book concerned with the more theistic side of Thor’s existence. Although at first glance this current storyline seems more interested in environmentalism than examining godhood, that doesn’t mean this element is missing completely; it just means that Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic are making us work a little harder to find it. After all, this issue features two different versions of the thunder god, a cosmic force so powerful that he makes gods tremble, and an evil CEO with the ego of a god. What’s the one thing they all have in common? They all do whatever they want, no matter what the consequences may be.
Spencer: It’s easy to take a cynical view of environmentalism — personally, I’m thinking specifically of how that one-time donation of $20 I gave to my state’s Wildlife Conservation Fund has been spent three or four times over just paying for the junk mail they’ve since sent me — and its even easier to turn stories about environmentalism into preachy tirades. Amazingly, in Thor: God of Thunder 19 Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic avoid those traps, somehow presenting us with a nuanced and “realistic” tale of the titular God’s fight to save the Earth itself while also taking the time to remind us of our planet’s beauty — and what the planet could end up looking like if we fail to protect it. Continue reading
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 17, originally released January 15th, 2014.
Shelby: Sometimes you have to sacrifice what you want for the greater good. If it’s the happiness of just you versus the happiness of many, you just gotta bite the bullet and go for the greater good. It sucks, but it’s the right thing to do, and generally there is some consolation found in that. But if the greater good you’ve sacrificed your happiness for actually leads to even greater suffering, where does that leave you? I can tell you this much; it leaves me with a very unsatisfying end to the latest arc of Thor: God of Thunder.
Shelby: I am no stranger to drinking with my coworkers. It happens less now, but back when I started with company I’ve been with for the past six years, we used to go out all the time. Drinking with coworkers is strange; you have the weird anxiety about introducing these people to your true, non-work self. If you’re lucky enough like I am to work at a pretty casual place, the difference between work-you and real-you isn’t that extreme. Casual workplace or no, afterhours outings can definitely bring the group together. Sure, things are probably going to be awkward the next day, with everyone exchanging stories, gossiping about who hooked up with whom, but the shared experience of the evening brings people together and makes the team tighter. It helps, too, when the boss picks up the tab.
Today, Ethan and Shelby are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 13, originally released October 9th, 2013.
Ethan: If you’re like most people, when someone asks you what type of music you prefer, you reply “oh, most kinds” or “I’m not picky” or “pretty much anything except [insert genre name].” That said, no matter how coy you are about your favorites, when you find a band that really grabs you, that buzzes to your bones in just the right way – a way that feels a little bit like it must be unique, like it was kinda-sorta written for you specifically – it’s a wonderful thing. So for at least one tour cycle you’re set, maybe you see them live, maybe you wait after the show to get some autographs, and you hear the music in your sleep. But when the interval ends, when the band goes off the grid to put together their next album, there’s room for trepidation. What if their new songs don’t have that special texture that the old ones do? What if they sound EXACTLY the same and there’s no new magic? Well, as far as I’m concerned, Jason Aaron is facing off with a very similar situation in Thor: God of Thunder #14. His first God-Bomb arc knocked it out of the park with great big ideas like faith and deity, and the current question is whether or not he can do it again using dwarves, elves, and goats. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Shelby are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 13, originally released September 18th, 2013.
Drew: A reviled leader returns, shocking a land that had long ago moved on. OR A beloved leader returns, rescuing a land that had long ago lost its way. Depending on your political ideology (and location) those statements could equally describe Silvio Berlusconi, Vladimir Putin, Newt Gingrich, or Hillary Clinton. The point is, nobody is the villain in their own story, though they may widely be seen as such by others. It can be hard for people to understand how their political savior is seen by others as pure evil, and it’s exactly that kind of superlative exaggeration that has devolved modern politics into tribal chest-thumping matches. Thor: God of Thunder 13 isn’t quite even-handed enough to confuse anyone about who the villain is, but it does provide a thrilling introduction that has us rooting for that villain…at least until he starts killing babies. Continue reading
Today, Ethan and Drew are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 12, originally released August 28th, 2013.
Ethan: Religion is a funny thing. The effort and complexity inherent to trying to establish a useful way of thinking about where stuff comes from and how we should keep it going forward is difficult to wrap your head around. We humans are bundles of passion and logic, of guilt and pride, of doubt and certainty. Whether you think that’s thanks to some awkward midpoint of evolution, or intrinsic tension between physical and spiritual existence, it’s a heckuva weight to walk around with, and religions (or opposition to them — a kind of religion in itself) is seemingly one of the only ways we’ve got that get our species through each day and each millenium. Rather than a denial of the tension between our daily life and the unthinkable bigness of space and time, religions find ways to incorporate the vast distances that are out there into our miniscule doings. In the issues of Thor, God of Thunder leading up to #12, we’ve mostly focused on the Big, Godly Conflict; this issue takes its time to let us steep in the Small, Human Cares and to explore how those two scales are linked.
Today, Shelby and (guest writer) Christopher are discussing Thor: God of Thunder 11, originally released August 14th, 2013.
Shelby: Despite what Neverending Story would have you believe, all stories do, in fact come to some sort of conclusion. Comic book conclusions tend to be more vague than most, since the end of one arc merely marks the beginning of the next. Conclusions are especially fluid when the story features a bomb made of time, with the ability to rip through all of time, and your heroes are three versions of one character at different points in his life. This is where Jason Aaron leaves us with his conclusion to the Godbomb arc: if Young Thor will grow to be Thor the Avenger who will eventually become King Thor, is this story every really over?
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.