Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: Thor by J. Michael Straczynski

As we are getting closer to summer movie season, I'm continuing my prep-work on movies I'd like to see. Basically my thinking goes like this - if I take the time to read whatever book the story was originally adapted from, I am a little more justified in paying theatre costs to see the movie when it first comes out, rather than having to wait for it to be released on DVD.

Case in point - Thor. Last month I read my local library's entire collection of the Walter Simonson run from the '80s - to be clear, this wasn't the entire run, just what my library had (volumes 1-3 of 5), remember the point is that I invest time, not $$$ into research to justify to myself whether or not I should see something in theatres.

Anyway, this month I read my library's collection of the J. Michael Straczynski run on Thor (and yes, this was the entire run).

So here we go - a quick caveat: my only background is the various trailers for the new film, the first three volumes of the Walter Simonson run, and whatever I gleaned from that little Thor-crazed kid in Adventures in Babysitting.

Apparently sometime between the Simonson run and now (Straczynski's storyline was published from July 2007 to November 2009) Thor has died, also there was some sort of Civil War between Super heroes - I actually tried to understand what the heck was going on with Civil War as I was reading Peter David's Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man at the time and the only thing this massive plot seemed to do was wreck the story line I was currently interested in.

Back to Thor: after having a chat with his past alter-ego, Dr. Donald Blake (who disappeared during the Simonson run), Thor returns to an Asgard-less earth and goes about re-creating his godlike home in the middle of the Oklahoma plains. This gives us a lot of culture-clash story lines as the good folks who already live there begin to make nice with the new neighbours Thor keeps showing up with (Thor is magically restoring the other Asgardians around the globe). The early issues include a quick denouncement of the Civil War storyline (Thor beats up a much-deserving Tony Stark) and a wonderful romantic sub-plot involving an Asgardian and a short-order cook named Bill.

These comics were a lot of fun, and although I have very little context for them, I felt the story moved at a nice pace and kept me interested. The artwork, by the way, was fantastic across the board, this was some of the most incredible comic art I've seen this year (the only better I can think of is the stuff in Batwoman: Elegy).

If you have time to check these issues out, definitely go for it. The series was a lot of fun and continues to get me excited for the upcoming film.

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