Thor: The Mighty Avenger
written by Roger Langridge
illustrated by Chris Samnee and Matthew Wilson
Anyone who has read Marvel’s Thor comics knows that there are a lot of Thor-specific characters to try to remember. This is made even more difficult because these characters are all gods with very specific stations, and they don’t usually interact with the mortal world of heroes, so their frame of reference within the Marvel Universe is very small. Breaking into Thor can be as difficult as figuring out Shakespeare or jazz music, but with less scholarly study to help you along.
Fortunately, Thor: The Mighty Avenger rewrites the book on Thor, putting aside almost 50 years of history to create a comic that stands alone, starting at the moment Thor first appears on Earth and meets Jane Foster, and much like his classic appearances, quickly stumbles into battle. It reads like a classic Thor comic in many ways and functions as a welcome respite from the continuity-heavy, always-in-dire-peril Marvel Universe. Subsequently, this version of Thor returns to his more charming roots as a stranger in the strange land of Earth, a great guy, and maybe a little too quick to battle, but only because a good tussle is just fun. Marvel’s in-canon Thor is journeying through different hells and lamenting the complete and total destruction of his entire world and lost souls. The difference is pretty stark, and at the moment, I definitely prefer the lighter one.
So, Thor appears on Earth, befriends a pretty lady, and immediately begins to encounter some of Earth’s greatest and most eclectic superpersonalities: Mr. Hyde, Ant-Man and Wasp, and Captain Britain among them. Along the way, he tries to understand the ways of this new world, which he hasn’t visited since he was a small child centuries ago, why he’s here, and also tries to find a way home to Asgard. It’s a story that’s told with a great deal of sensitivity and humor. While I wouldn’t compare it directly to Mork & Mindy, the premise is not dissimilar. Issue #4, featuring Captain Britain, is one of the best single issues I’ve read in the past year.
The book’s art is far simpler than most current comics, using relatively few lines to tell the story perfectly, and in a style that’s usually more associated with indie comics but used here with stunning success. The layout and animation of the characters in this minimal environment is a small work of genius. The book finishes off with reprints of Thor’s first two appearances in 1962, which are a completely surrealist trip through the very strangest era of comics, and a perfect parallel to the simplicity and excitement of The Mighty Avenger. It’s a great conclusion to a series of great stories.
I wouldn't call this a story just for kids, but it’s definitely friendly for all ages. It’s a very good read, not unlike the Marvel Adventures series of books: self-contained stories, very interesting adventures with underused characters, great art, and a ton of fun.-- Collin David