Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thor by JMS (Review)

Citizen's Grade: Impressive.

J. Michael Straczynski (affectionately known as "JMS" to his fans!) is a genius! Though misunderstood sometimes (I'll explain below), no one can question the quality of his work. Only he could bring back the Marvel Comics mythical legend....Thor! After the Norse City of the gods...Asgard...had fallen in the prophesied Ragnarok, Thor is in the beyond, where because of one's belief in him he comes back from death. Alone now (all the other Asgardians were killed in Ragnarok), he and his human host, Dr. Donald Blake move to Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma, he is approached by a friend and goes to Africa to do humanitarian work. He discovers the Warriors Three (Fandral, Hogan, & Volstagg) in other human hosts. Thor then realizes that all of Asgard's warriors may be trapped in human hosts wanting to re-enter midgard (Earth's realm of existence). Using the Odinforce; which he inherited from his father, Thor brings back the Asgardians. They reside in Asgard, which is now located in Oklahoma.

Thor enters the Odinsleep to rest and recover from his expenditure of energy to bring back all the Asgardians....and in his absence Loki (his adopted, evil brother) hatches a plan to bring down Thor and all who follow him. Loki travels back in time to confront his younger self, trick his Ice Giant father, get adopted by Odin, and using sorcery destroy Odin's father Bor. Meanwhile, Thor enters the dimension of the Odinsleep where he discovers his father in eternal battle with Surtur the demon. He helps his father defeat the beast for that day, has a heart-to-heart and returns to midgard.

Loki then springs his plan, bringing Bor out of his spell and in confusion. Bor rages against any and all, and Thor meets him to protect civilians. In the battle Thor kills this mysterious foe, as Loki and Balder arrive to declare that he is in fact Bor, Thor's Grandfather. For killing a member of the Royal family, Thor is banished and Balder becomes lord of Asgard.

With Thor banished and weakened by the cracking of his hammer; mjolnir, Loki then exposes his greatest trick.....he is possessing the body of Thor's love Sif. Loki reverts back to his true form and Thor races to New York to save Sif, trapped in an dying elderly woman. With Dr. Strange's help, Thor saves Sif and they return to Oklahoma.

Meanwhile; with Loki's forked tongue at his ear, Balder moves the Asgardians to Latveria, ruled by Dr. Doom. Loki and Doom hatch a plan to use the Asgardians to their mutual advantage, and begin killing off the lesser warriors while Doom's "Doom-bots" attempt to kill Donald Blake before he can unleash Thor. With Sif's and the Warriors Three's help, Blake survives but is injured.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski, artwork by Oliver Coipel & Marko Djurdjevic. Only JMS could re-imagine Thor in Oklahoma, and only JMS could imagine Loki as a woman! I don't see the book's success lasting now that he is gone. Shame on Marvel Comics for being such "sticklers" to their conventional storylines. The JMS Thor run collects volumes 1-3 (Issues 1-12, & 600-603), and features fabulous artwork by Coipel & Djurdjevic....which is the only reason I would continue to buy the volumes if I were so inclined.

JMS thinks outside the box, and likes to be left alone. The Creator of Babylon 5, screenwriter for the movie Changeling (starring Angelina Jolie) & Ninja Assassin, he is a creative master who wants to be allowed to create. He decided to leave Thor for much the same reason he decided to leave the Amazing Spiderman.....people interfering with his masterpieces. It's his own fault though, if he wasn't such a great writer they wouldn't bother him to have his characters center-stage for giant crossover mega-events. Hopefully he will have more success at DC Comics, where he is writing the out-of-continuity Earth One: Superman, and The Brave and The Bold.

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