Comic Review…Thor God of Thunder issues 1-12

First of all, I want to say that I am generally into religiously themed comics.

They generally, probably should offend me.  But they usually don’t.  Why?  BECAUSE THEY ARE JUST COMICS, PEOPLE!  

I have a history of reading Ghost Rider, Spawn, and yes Thor.  All religion themed books.  Spawn is especially demonic in theme, and yet I was almost never close to be offended.  I didn’t like all of it.  But it didn’t offend me.  (I haven’t been reading any Spawn since “Endgame.”)

But Thor is different, because of how close much of the language comes to the actual way in which I personally worship God.

There are times in the “Godbutcher / Godbomb” story where I got pretty close to offended.  Close.  But then I remembered.  IT”S ONLY COMICS!

That pre-qualifier said.  That disclaimer delivered.  On with my thoughts.  

Oh Yeah.  LOTS OF SPOILERS AHEAD

I started reading “Godbutcher” when Marvel said.  “Ok.  DC has the New 52 and the Joker chopped off his face and he’s back now.  IDW is scoring zillions of ratings points with the nerds.  We need to reboot.  Or at least look like we are.”  So they started their Marvel NOW! campaign to get our attention, killed Peter Parker.  Oh yeah.  On the sidelines, Thor got a new book.  Thor, God of Thunder.  With a title like that, we expect to get to know Thor, and how he thinks, and why.  AND we expect to learn a lot about his history and stuff like that.

I was sort of “eh….” about the cover art.  But over time, I began to appreciate it.  A kind of watercolor matte look.  The inside art is fine, with muted colors, but plain figures over all.  And there was a cool AR feature…You scan an AR panel with your phone and get to see the page come to life, hopefully….Maybe it won’t just be a commercial…or a rant from the writer or artist….(It usually was these last two.)  (Actually, I just checked.  The AR panels don’t work anymore at all…except for the ads….:(   )

“Godbutcher” begins with young viking god Thor finding a god’s head washing up on the shore, a native American god at that.  It continues with with Thor the Avenger of the present day finding a civilization that has no gods.  Shocking.  Upon investigating, he finds the planet’s gods all murdered and dismembered.  Their “godflesh” rotting slowly.  This scene should now terrify us.  Gods are supposed to be immortal!  But here we see that someone can kill them.  Something attacks the avenger…A Black Berserker.  It isn’t long before we know it is Gorr the Godbutcher who is slaying gods…And we see future Old Man Thor, the All-Father beaten into hopelessness by Gorr.

I like the way the story goes from young Viking Thor, who uses an axe instead of a hammer, Thor the Avenger, the one that we know best, and future Thor, Odin’s replacement.  This was a grand way of showing us who Thor was, is, and will be, if not confusing at times.  It also shows us that this story could have been revealed VERY slowly.  Over an entire title run.  But the writers showed us this grand story the way they did in a masterful way that makes sense if you are a persistent reader.

(I will take a brief moment to exclaim, this way of showing Thor is not unlike what we see in Conan the Barbarian stories, where he is young, mid-age adult, and eventually king.  Being a fan of the Barbarian, I see a good influence of him on the way Thor is presented to us.)

As the story of the Godbutcher goes on, we see old man Thor defeated over and over by Gorr’s minions.  Thor is the final god, saved for Gorr to kill last.  In the young Thor and Avenger Thor’s stories, we see how Thor is the one that got away from the killer.  This is why he toys with Thor as an old man.

This villain, Gorr, is a truly evil killer.  His weapon channels black energy into it’s target.  It works similarly to a Green Lantern ring in DC or the Symbiote costume for Venom…creating constructs that allow him to fly, makes swords, ropes, and whips, and more.  And when a god is attacked with the weapon, it takes something from them.  Also, the Black Berserkers are constructs of this weapon.  So we see (As Thor remarks in book  2,) Gorr has grown very powerful.

Speaking of Book 2, we get our first taste of combat between Gorr and Thor.  The young Thor utterly loses.  I like the dialogue.  Gorr says, basically “What are you the god of…poetry?”  Thor just says “Thunder,” and a bolt of lighting hits Gorr!

Book 3 is cool because we see Avenger Thor bringing up his guilt complex.  He tells Iron Man that he feels guilty because he did not kill Gorr one thousand years earlier.  And that summarizes it, pretty much.  Thor sees many more dead gods from different worlds.  This story gets more convoluted, as the three different aged Thors are having similar thoughts, and the panels switch one to another quite a bit.  Oh.  And book 3.  Old King Thor is still getting beaten up.

Book four is where I start to get a little offended.  Just a little.  Old King Thor sits on his throne, last of all gods.  In other words, the only god left.  He talks about how he has seen everyone and everything he loved killed.  He is surrounded by those Black Berserkers.  And he seems so powerless and hopeless.  The language here is nihilistic.  “Gorr won’t just let me die…” etc.  The idea of one god being powerless, is abhorrent to me.  Then I remember.  IT’S JUST COMICS.

And we could have seen where this was going.  To somewhere that time-travel can take place.  Chronux, city of the time gods.

Essentially, from this point we see Gorr’s plan coming together.  I think I have it figured out…Then I don’t.  Gorr goes back in time to the early universe, where he sees a baby god sitting and making beings out of clay.  We assume this is a god from Gorr’s own pantheon…He kills this god.  My thought was, “He’s killing all gods by killing this one.”  But nope.  That would be too simple I suppose.  Gor brings back the giant gods heart…He is going to use it as the core of a weapon that will kill all gods at all times.

Along the way, during the time-travel part of this adventure, Avenger Thor manages to rescue Old Man Thor.  The two of them fail to stop Gorr.

Issue six was a break from the larger story…a telling of Gorr’s origin.  Basically, Gorr came to curse the gods his people were devoted to.  His world was dry as a bone, and people were suffering.  His family was all killed off, and offerings, prayers, etc to their gods resulted in nothing.  Finally, as Gorr begins blaspheming, he is exiled.  In his banishment, he sees two gods in battle.  They nearly kill one another.  The “good guy” god begs for Gorr to help him.  Instead, he steals the “bad guy’s” weapon and kills him.  This is the origin of Gorr and his weapon, which we learn later is called “The Anihilablade.”  This issue introduces us to Gorr’s son as well, leaving us scratching our heads….

When I set out to read these stories, I thought they would be a smaller story arc.  Instead, it looks like Marvel roped us into eleven issues total.  Luckily, I enjoyed the book.  Unluckily it seemed that this book had an inconsistent release schedule.  It was like issue after issue came at once, then there was a lull of like six weeks….

The second part of the story is called “Godbomb.”  With the ability to control time, Gorr has gathered gods from all corners of the universe and kept them as slaves to build a bomb that will make their “species” extinct all through the ages of time.  Gorr is making himself into a god, styled after the gods that drove him to become what he is.  But he refuses to admit this to himself.  He also does other things, including giving the slaves the seventh day off, and crucifying gods who try to rebel.  (Here is some of where I got offended.  ITS JUST COMICS.  Whew.  Got that over.)  Viking Thor is among these slave gods, and when he arrives on the planet where the bomb is being built, right away he takes action and manages to escape and meet up with the other two Thors.

This story moves a little faster than the first arc, because we are not jumping around in time.  All three Thors are on the same timeline.  Which is what it would take to bring down Gorr and his plan.  We also see that the Black Bersekers are now a mighty army, and Gorr not only has a son, but also a wife.  These two are hopeful that Gorr’s dream of a godless universe will come about.

What happens basically is that the Thor’s fail.  The bomb explodes, killing ages of gods, past present, and future.

But…Thor the Avenger takes a last desperate breath, grabs his future hammer, and goes into the exploding bomb, absorbing the blast into both Mjolnir hammers.  In doing so, he also steals Gorr’s weapon.  We find out that Gorr’s wife and child were just constructs as well.  And then Viking Thor chops off his head.

I also like the follow up one-shot.  Issue 12 shows the three Thor’s returning to their proper time, forgetting all about their future adventure.

Analysis.

Gorr the Godbutcher represents humanism and agnosticism.  Both viewpoints either deny the necessity of God or deny that we are of concern to him.  Gorr is someone who lost his faith after being burned over and over, having prayers unanswered while devotion was religiously given.  He took action in the most negative way possible.  (Otherwise he wouldn’t have been a villain, right…)

Thor is seen as an evolution of Western religion.  His barbarian self represents what gods were like in early pagan times.  His Avenger self represents the active and visible religions of the world.  (I like how issue 12 portrays Thor!)  Then the All-Father Thor represents that far off and untouchable-ness people often sense from God.

So Thor and Gorr are philosophical opposites.  And in the end, Gorr had no hope.  All of his hope was in himself and his efforts.  And religion won out, living it’s legacy after the god butchers was more or less erased from history….

Hmmm….deep.

My Rating.

I rate this story arc as a 4/5.

I took a point because the story starts to ramble a bit.  I wish it were one of two things.  Either a story spread over a 100 issue series, or a lot shorter…Maybe only six books long.  Instead, we got eleven books and a twelfth book chaser.  Think.  This is a YEAR WORTH OF READING.

But it kept me interested.  I kept buying.  The high idea of the story, Humanism vs Religion as a slasher story, was very entertaining.  The art has its own style, and I am glad to see that Marvel is still printing letters at the back of almost every book.

Pandora #1, #2, and #3 comics review

When I signed up at the Tangled Web to get most of the Justice League Trinity War crossover stories, I hesitated on a couple of titles….One was Pandora,  I’m glad I went ahead and ordered it

!

Pandora was first introduced to us back in the first few issues of Justice League as their backup stories.  I spent my time scratching my head….Who was this, and why did I care?  Remember, I was new to DC, pretty much.  Then things got worse with Justice League, showcasing Cheezeball Shazam each month.

It’s a good thing I have been reading the JLA stories as well….There are a lot of tie-ins.

The puzzle of Pandora is why I hesitated….But she has turned out to be a really cool character.  She is an immortal, an idea that I did not know about, but apparently there are more immortals out there in the DC universe.

So Pandora feels she needs to open the box.  In this story, Pandora’s Box appears to be an alien skull, covered in gold and bearing a third eye in the middle of its head.

The box seems to possess people who touch it, and they turn evil, but it wears off after they drop the box.  People as “good” as Superman and Wonder Woman.  On the other hand, it makes Vandal Savage (another immortal) remorseful….to the point of crying.

Without giving away too many plot points, Pandora is on a quest to kill the seven deadly sins, who are spirits guiding humanity in evil throughout history.  For thousands of years, she’s not been able to slay them.  Not even hurt them.  And they call her mother, which has to be bad.

One cool thing she is doing is having a weapons maker inscribe runes and stuff on her guns.  I GUESS the idea is to enchant the weapons so they can kill the spirits.  It seems to be pointless though….another example of her failure.

So she released the sins, (who killed her tribe), became cursed and immortal, and flounders in trying to stop the sins, then trains to try and fight them or even kill them….Her whole life seems to be a failure.

Which is why I think I am rooting for her.

What do you think?  Comment people…I have some stuff to give away!

Death of the Family review

DC Comics did it right when they began the New 52 with the Joker having his face cut off……and then keeping us in suspense for a year!

Along the way, Gotham policemen pranked each other with it, Harley Quinn tried to steal the face, and had a twisted moment with it and her new boyfriend, Deadshot.

And then the Joker returned, and he didn’t disappoint!  Right away he kills an entire station of Gotham policemen.  When we see him, he has his face horrifically strapped to his head, and stretched into a gruesome smile.  He spends no time catching up with Batman, and having some famous dialogue about how his “bat-family” makes him weaker.

This was also a cool trip through the New 52 origin of the Joker, (and Harley Quinn, too.)  DC portrayed the Joker as remixing his original crimes.  All of this echoed stuff from the old DC universes. Now it seems there is a solid origin story.  Batman knocked The Red Hood into a vat of chemicals, and it made him into the Joker.  That whole bit about him being a chemist also still seems to be true.

The Joker slowly picks off each Bat-Family member.  He does the biggest number on Batgirl, capturing her mom, removing her finger, and using it to propose to BatGirl.  Of course, she has to play along, or her mom will get blown up!  NightWing has his circus scared away because one of the clowns was killed for resembling the Joker.  Red Hood, Red Robin, and Robin (Damian) all get captured and thrown together in a cell.  (Damian’s book was really gruesome.)  Also, Alfred was attacked and Joker Gassed.  Every Bat Family member’s story ends with a suspenseful panel of the Joker holding a giant dinner platter about to open the lid….

The Bat Family is disenfranchised because apparently Bruce knew that the Joker might have figured out his identity, and thus was able to figure out everyone else’s.  It is never clear exactly how he figured out all of the personal details of how to get at the family members.  But Bruce seems to think that the Joker doesn’t want to know, and also blinds himself to what must be obvious to someone as brilliant as him with his insanity.   This detail is reinforced a couple of times if you think back.  In “Red Hood and the Outlaws #0” the Joker quickly cuts off someone who is trying to point out Batman’s identity, etc.

I suppose that the Joker really does need Batman and Family to keep him busy.  Otherwise he could have easily killed them all off in the end.  Instead he “plays a joke” on Batman by presenting their severed faces on a platter.  (not their real faces)

How is he defeated?  Of course Batman had no trouble saving the family members.  Then when he chases down the Joker and threatens him that he has figured out his identity, Joker won’t hear of it and throws himself down into the sewer, dropping his face in the process.

So far, the Bat Family members are rather irked at Bruce.  It is a wonder they won’t answer his calls and stuff….Damian was just killed.  They are not helping their mentor mourn.  They are THAT MAD.

Where will this go?  I wonder about the Joker’s face.  Is he going to appear as someone else, with a healthy face next?  The future is wide open on the part of the Joker.  He kind of always comes and goes, and now this won’t be much different.  I wonder if a whole “Joker in disguise” storyline might be coming up.  Or maybe he will grow his face back?  Or something else?  Anyone else out there have any theories?

I think maybe DC was trying to create some space around Batman.  Give him more room.  Isn’t this kind of process always going on?  Now he doesn’t even have an official Robin.  Batman is working alone for the most part.  It won’t be long though before the family is close again, so…..

So what do you think, Hub City Geeks?  Comment!  Join the show!  Make my little blog grow!  Increase the traffic flow!  Come on nerds Disco! (DISCO, DISCO DUCK!)

Robin Laid an Egg follow-up…….

A friend recklessly spoiled who the new Robin is to me….before I got my book in the mail.  And my guesses were entirely wrong.

I should have seen this coming, though.  Didn’t they recently release “The Dark Knight Returns” on video?  I haven’t seen it.

So welcome to the New 52, Carrie Kelly.  I suppose that wasn’t too much of a spoiler for anyone.  It is Thursday, after-all.  Maybe if ANYONE OUT THERE EVER READS THIS, I might receive a comment, even a complaint!

 Follow up to the follow up, I read some more news…..It seems that Carrie actually MIGHT NOT be Robin after all.    I guess we gotta keep reading.  I can’t wait until my issue comes in the mail!

Robin Laid an Egg…..

So who is the new Robin going to be?  We know that there WILL BE a new Robin…..after all, they haven’t announced a cancelation of the Batman and Robin title.  Lots of speculation flying around.  Here are the leading theories, in no ranking order, but starred for clarity.  Pro’s and cons after each one.

*     Tim Drake.  Lots of fans love Tim!  He was Robin for like, 20 years!

Pro.  Lots of fans like Tim.  Pro.  The current Teen Titan’s is a crappy title.  Keep Tim around.  reassign the others.

Con.  Same ol’  Same ol’.

*     Stephanie Brown.

Pro.  The writers have pretended to forget Stephanie.  It’s like she hasn’t happened in the New 52.

Con.  I don’t see a con to this one.  A blond girl Robin…..I LOVE IT!

*      Harper Row

Pro.  She’s “current….”

Con.  Is she really a “fan favorite?”  Or is that a load of hype?

*     Harper Row’s brother  (Andy?  Don’t have the book handy for reference)

Pro.  Once again, he’s “Current”

Con.  I see no appeal so far.  He hasn’t done anything except be a victim.

*     Damien Wayne

Pro.  I miss him already.  So do other people.

Con.  Can the story grow?  How soon?  Will the rest of Batman and Robin for the next year be devoted to his resurrection?  That would be fitting for Damien.

Con.  The writers say they don’t have current plans to bring him back.

*     Jason Todd/ Red Hood

Pro.  This would be interesting.  It would be a way for Batman and Jason to BOTH get one over on the Joker.

Con.  Would we lose the Red Hood?

My thoughts.

Of the above, I hope the whole Harper Row and her brother thing becomes it’s own separate story arc.  But neither of these seem to be Robin worthy.  I hate Harper’s design.  I don’t care for the Bull Nose Ring she has adorning her boogers.  Hey, I had pink hair once.  But her purple hair (his too) just detracts from the character.  It is distracting.  An even worse move would be to make her brother into Robin.  This would SURELY grab headlines.  A gay Robin.  Oh yeah.  This is EXACTLY what I am afraid they are going to do though, for shock value, and publicity.  They are going to hurt Harper, or kill her, and Andy will step up and avenge her by becoming Robin.  He has been a victim so far, so they have plenty of room to develop him.  Think I am being unfair?  Just look at what happened with Miles Morales.  They chose an “ethnic” Spider-Man for the headlines.  But the Gay angle might not even work out as well.  We already have a gay Green Lantern in Earth 2, and a Batwoman. (Look how well these two are loved…they aren’t) Harper has a real Lesbian vibe, this hasn’t been explored, but so far the brother has been confirmed homosexual.  I like their two stories.  I even like their characters.  I just don’t want to see either one of them fill the hole that is left behind after the great job Damien did.

Most of all, I hope they bring Jason Todd back as Robin.  Again, this would be a great joke on the Joker!  Maybe he wouldn’t even have to stop being the Red Hood.  He has already put on a “Wingman” costume, apparently in Batman Inc.  He would slide right into the role, with demons to fight similar to Damien’s.  He would be edgy as well.  Batman would try and reign him in, and probably be successful.  Did anyone else read “Red Hood and the Outlaws” #18?  I read that thing three times.  Bruce’s fatherly embrace of his adopted son was heart wrenching.  Here we have two family members torn apart by tragedy, being brought back together by more tragedy.  And Bruce was showing real love here.  He could have only learned that by raising Damien.  He could only show this in the context of losing Damien and having a severely wounded Jason.  This would be a true continuation of Jason Todd’s story.  And maybe many people who were so torn up about this back in the early 1990’s would come back and listen.  We could see a Batman who has grown from losing two Robins, both of them his sons.  But he gets a second chance with one.  For real.

What about the others?  I don’t know why the writers are so allergic to Stephanie Brown.  I fear it is because she is the “anti-Harper,” if Harper is to become the next girl Robin.  This could be a chance to bring her up to date, though.  They could have retconned her existence for a reason…They wanted a re-do.  Like all of the other heroes pretty much got.  She’s cuter than Harper.  She doesn’t have an innocent background, though, with the whole “teenage pregnancy” scandal.

And what about Tim.  I just don’t see it happening.  I see Tim becoming like Dick.  He will be his own hero.  Sort of like he has been as Red Robin.  I think some people would like it.  I liked Tim as Robin, in the few books I had of Robin back in the 1990’s.  I also liked him in the cartoons.

Hey, it could be somebody else.  Who knows.  Maybe more flashpoint timewarps will happen, and Dick will be it.  Maybe all the other Bat Family will disappear into a fog.  I don’t want to see this.  But hey, it’s comics.

So in order, my favorite to least favorite picks for a new Robin

1.  Damien Wayne
2.  Jason Todd
3.  Stephanie Brown
4.  Tim Drake
5.  Harper Row
6.  “Brother” Row
7.  A combination of the twin Rows, both as Robins.  (Didn’t mention this above.  It could happen.)

How I see comics……

          The SpartanNerd is a bit of a cheapskate.  So his comics come by the old fashioned snail-mail…..(I save a little money that way.)  Such is the way of a breeder.  What does this mean for a blog about comics?  Well, it means that after ComicVine, Pop Culture Network, and whoever else has already reviewed them, I will have my two cents to add….Literally two cents.  On a RARE occasion, I will get a book on the Wednesday that it comes out.  Sometimes, I get them over two weeks late.  This sucks pretty bad….

          So what books am I subscribed too?  I jumped on DC Comics The New 52 wagon when all that news dropped.  I began buying the digital books.  This was OK, but I missed the nostalgia of owning the actual paper books I stockpiled as a kid, thus the subscriptions.  I started here because 1) Marvel messes around too much with Spider-Man, who I love just as he was in the 1990’s pre-clone          Todd MacFarlane era, 2. Big Iconic characters that used to be too intimidating with a 50 year back-story…such as Batman and Superman, would now be more accessible.  3.  It seemed like a good place to start with stuff I wasn’t SOOO familiar with in the first place.  So I subscribed to five titles that I read the most.  Detective Comics, Batman, Batman and Robin, Action Comics, and Justice League.  I have since dropped Justice League (too much Shazam) and picked up Aquaman.  Why no Batman: The Dark Knight?  I didn’t care for the art, but I have picked up a couple of the books.

           It also turns out that here at the edge of the world there are a couple of fine establishments that sell comics, closest to me is Mad Max’s Comics and Games, but also on the west side of Sparkle City there is the highly regarded and established Tangled Web.  I STILL find myself darkening comic store doors on Wednesdays and weekends.  What books do I pick up?  Believe it or not, Batgirl!  I started reading Justice League of America.  I bought Ninja Turtles for awhile.  I picked up every Masters of the Universe comic I could.  I also bought a major haul of books from a Tangled Web recently in a doorbuster sale.  I grabbed almost every associated title that went with “The Court of the Owls,” and “Death of The Family” when those stories were hot.  I also began reading the new Thor book, which has been pretty cool so far.

           Part of my thinking in this was of course that I would not miss any important details.  So How did I miss THE DEATH OF DAMIAN WAYNE/ROBIN?  DC really ticked me off on this one.  Here I am a near hardcore fan of Batman, loving the whole New 52 take on Robin….And they kill him off in the one book I haven’t been reading…..Batman Inc.  AND I find out by reading Batgirl…which I picked up at the store thinking it would be spoiler free (even though it said “Requiem” on the cover?  That was cold, DC Comics.)

          In the next few posts over the next few days, I will try to bring anyone who cares…. (anyone out there?)……up to date on what I have thought about each of my regular titles.  I might just distill the Bat books down into their story elements of Court of the Owls, Death of the Family, and Requiem.  I’ll address Justice League, Superman, and some of the other books I have picked up as well.  Stay tuned, Hub City Geeks!

SpartanNerd