on June 7, 2009
I'll begin by saying that if Amazon allowed us to make half-star ratings, I would be giving this book 4.5 stars rather than 5, for reasons I will get to later.
In this second volume of Straczynski's run on Thor, we see even more character development and even more beautiful artwork by Olivier Coipel. This time around, Marko Djurdjevic fills in on art duties for 2 chapters. Djurdjevic's art fits nicely into the series, creating a grittier visual experience when compared to Coipel's cleaner, more refined art. The art here never misses a beat. The battle scenes, settings, character expressions, and dialogs are wonderfully depicted.
While the first volume of this title dealt with Thor's rebirth and the recreation of Asgard, this book delves more into the history and politics of Asgard, Thor's royal lineage, and Loki's scheming. As the book progresses, we get a truer sense of Loki in his/her new form, and we find out for sure where his/her intentions lie. It's a load of fun to sit back as this villian is slowly established. Because of the shift in focus, Thor himself takes a back stage to much of the plot, but the story never suffers.
Compared to the last volume, this one has much more action. We see wonderfully rendered battles on snowy plains between the noble Asgardians and their enemies, the brutal frost giants. The final chapter (Thor #600) shows an intense urban battle between Thor and his grandfather Bor, and Norman Osborn's Dark Avengers make an appearance as well. This reminds us that this wonderful fantasy story takes place within the Marvel Universe with superheroes and all. In fact, this juxtaposition is one thing that makes the story work as well as it does. On one hand, we see epic struggles between the Gods, but on the other, we see classic superhero battles and Thor's mortal host Dr. Donald Blake (sort of like a secret identity, only they share a body and not a mind) going about trying to make connections with people from his past.
My only complaint about the book is when Thor visits the grave of Captain America on the anniversary of his death. Cap's ghost is summoned and a dialogue ensues between the two former Avengers. The problem with this event is that 1.) nothing that was said is really relevant to Thor, and 2.) The anniversary of Cap's death is officially happening in the upcoming 600th issue of Captain America. Continuity errors are almost guaranteed to happen, and it's a shame because this scene of the book is one of the low points in the Thor series as a whole, and could easily never have happened. But it's a minor nitpick and I'm willing to let it slide.
So definitely pick this book up and try to get caught up with the Thor series. It's truly one of Marvel's best books right now, and it may only be a matter of time until writer Straczynski moves on to other projects.
on May 26, 2009
J. Michael Strackzynski's first six issues on "Thor" featured the return of the Norse god and his people from the abyss into which they had entered following Ragnarok. It was a story high on mythic resonance and beautifully illustrated, but low on action and, I argued in my review, somewhat too slowly paced. With the setup out of the way, Volume 2 collects issues #7-12 and the renumbered #600 (an anniversary achieved by adding the numbers of this and the previous two volumes of "Thor" comics together), all written by Stracynski (save some of the anniversary material) and illustrated primarily by Olivier Coipel and Marko Djurdjevic. Some spoilers follow.
When examining the strengths of this volume compared to the previous one, the first thing worth noticing is the increased variance in the stories told. The first volume often seemed to be replaying the same conversation over and over again. The volume opens with a Djurdjevic-illustrated two-parter that sees Thor, having expended most of his power in the previous story, entering the Odinsleep (now the "Thorsleep") in order to rejuvenate himself. There he encounters the spirit of his father Odin, and learns of the fate of the demon Surtur, and some important information about Odin's own early life (which will be revisited later). Following that, issues 9-12 cover a variety of stories, including an issue primarily from Balder's perspective, an issue from Loki's, and a poignant commemoration of the death of Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, Thor's close friend.
Of these stories, #11 and 12 merit close consideration. The former, the Rogers anniversary issue, contains some of Strackzysnki's best writing, in the scene in which Thor succeeds in summoning the spirit of his deceased comrade (Coipel's rendering of this scene is brilliant). At the same time, the point that JMS seeks to communicate here, namely, that Captain America should not be a politicized concept or used as a cudgel to lobby for one side, while a good idea in principle, also represents a colossal act of chutzpah on the part of the writer. Any follower of JMS' Marvel work will know that he was the prime mover behind turning "Civil War" into evil Bush-fascist Iron Man vs. saintly liberal-Democrat Captain America. Perhaps this could be read as his mea culpa, I suppose. The latter issue, as Loki time-travels into the past to insure his own future, reminded me strongly of a similar episode of "Gargoyles", and has some very strong sequences, though only time will tell whether the serious rewrite of Loki's historic motivations here will be considered a good thing (JMS essentially removes the idea that Loki and Thor's falling-out was a slow, natural process; Loki is now rotten from the start).
Finally, there is the big one: #600. Loki's scheming comes to a head, and, without going too much into detail, it is only fitting that it is this point that the book enters the realm of the "Dark Reign" currently featured in the Marvel Universe. My main complaint about this story is, simply, how stupid it makes Thor and Balder look. Whatever excuses you wish to make of them, they more or less stood around while Loki assembled the deathray in front of them, all the while occasionally telling Loki that they were watching her. For a writer best known for his subtle depictions of human emotional states, Loki's entire storyline possesses all the finesse of a sledgehammer hitting an eggshell.
Looking over this review, one might think I have a lower opinion of this series than I do, but I offer these criticisms in the spirit of JMS' series, which positions itself as a very intellectual story. I couldn't rate it any lower than 4 stars (and there is no sequence anywhere near as awful as the Iron Man fight in Volume 1), but I don't feel it sufficiently meets its own goals to the extent of earning five. Recommended, nonetheless.
on April 7, 2016
Start with Thor: Disassembled, read the first volume of the J. Michael, this one, and the third...you will have Thor goodness coming out of your ears. Only the Simonson, Oeming, and classic Lee rivals this run, essential for Thor fans.
Thor, Vol. 1 established the return of Thor with a bold reimagining. Summoned from the void by Donald Blake, Thor goes about rebuilding Asgard in the wake of Civil War. Volume 2 picks up with Thor who has awakened all the sleeping gods and must enter Thorsleep to replenish his power. Meanwhile, Lady Loki's machinations become more apparent (to the reader, at least) as she ingratiates herself to Balder with the truth - that he too is a son of Odin - in order to make her lies more palatable. Interwoven with this main story is the burgeoning love story between the human Bill and goddess Kelda.
This Thor is more powerful than I'm accustomed to. Therefore, Loki must connive to have him banished so she might become the power behind the new King, Balder. Much of this volume is given over to Loki, and just how far back in time his plan was seeded. Though I don't like how Loki is presented as being evil for the sake of evil (even as a child he's "evil"), it does make him a more challenging villain for this more powerful Thor. The volume ends with the introduction of another major villain; one that Loki is obviously allied with. The conclusion left me eager to see how the story will end.
Overall, this was an exciting follow-up to Volume 1 with even more action and a lot more intrigue. Highly recommended.
on June 3, 2016
My Thor read-a-athon continues. I read volumes 2 & 3 of JMS' Thor run back to back. A good read, but sadly ended before the story was finished. I look forward to seeing how the next creative team picks up the story. Art by Copiel & Djurdjevic.
In the second volume of Straczynski and Coipel's resurrection of Thor the plot, as they say, thickens. I enjoyed the first volume a great deal, but I liked this one. I thought the star of the first volume was Copiel, with series of absolutely brilliant illustrations, and renderings of Thor that are, in my opinion, the best that we have ever seen. I thought the story was a tad thin in the first one, moving perhaps a tad too slowly to the climax, the resurrection of the Norse gods. In the second volume Stracynski gets a much more interesting and involving story going, dealing with the backstory of the semi-death of Bor and the failure of his son, Odin, to bring him back to corporeal form, and the machinations of Loki to generate conflict among the Asgardians.
In comics I find that I generally prefer slower rather than frenetic paces. I recently finished reading the Green Lantern Sinestro Corps War volumes by Geoff Johns. They were fun, but the stories and panels were so stuffed to overflowing with content and detail that the stories didn't have room to breathe. In these Thor stories, on the other hand, less proves to be more, as the pace allows a fuller appreciation of the details. The result was one of the more satisfying superhero stories that I've read in a while.
There are many great moments in the book. There is a nice though small reunion between Thor and Steve Rodgers at the site of a monument to Captain America and later a nicely shocking moment when Thor tries to summon the Avengers, but gets the Dark Avengers instead. And throughout Coipel's artwork remains inspiring.
One nice personal payoff in having this volume (finally) come out after many delays is that I have some individual issues that I can now read. I decided after reading the first Thor volume by Straczynski and Copiel that I wanted to subscribe to the series. So I started buying the individual numbers for the issues that would follow this volume, setting them aside to read only after this was published (my local comic book store lacked Issue #8 so I had to wake for the hardback). So now I get to go read more Thor!
On a side note, I get most of my books at my U.S. Post Office box in downtown Chicago. I open the packages, looking at the books as I walk back to the building in which I work, often stopping at some place to buy lunch along the way. I pretty much never, ever have anyone say anything to me about any of the books I receive (and I receive a hundred or so a year), not even the graphic novels that I get. But the day that I received THOR Vol. 2, four or five people commented on it. Each one got excited and expressed how much they loved Thor.
By the way, shooting on the new Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard film CABIN IN THE WOODS recently ended. This teen horror flick, which Whedon promises will be the end all of all such films, has had some amazing luck with its casting. The day after it was announced that Richard Jenkins was going to be one of the stars, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in THE VISITOR. And then near the end of principal shooting it was announced that Chris Hemsworth, best known for his work on the Aussie series HOME AND AWAY, would be playing Thor in the upcoming Marvel Studios feature film. This is one of the crucial steps leading up to an Avengers film. The Avengers are assembling!
on April 12, 2012
After reading the excellent volume 1, I was pleasantly surprised when I received this volume as a Birthday present, as I was eager to continue JMS's fantastic run on Thor. I am happy to say that the greatness continues. Thor's supporting cast is back in full, and the Thunder God begins to share the spotlight with Loki and Baldur. Several subplots develop in this volume, including some interesting backstory on Odin and Thor's family past, including a lost member (whom I shall not spoil).
Art duties are handled by two artists in this volume: Marko Djurdjevic and returning artist Oliver Coipel. The former's style is grittier, but still excellent. Some great shots are to be had in this volume, such as Thor standing on a satellite in space and an epic splash page of Thor & Odin fighting the Fire Giant Surtur (a long running Thor villain).
I rated this volume slightly lower than the previous, in that it is not quite as 'newcomer friendly', requiring readers to get up to speed with the other events Marvel had going at the time, mainly Norman 'Green Goblin' Osborne's Dark Avengers, as well as a greater understanding of Thor's Mythos in order to truly understand the story in its entirety. This is not much of an issue, but I did have to consult my comic-guru friends on certain things. Needless to say however, that savvy fans will not find this an issue at all, but for those like me, who are coming into comic-continuity, I feel this is important to know.
However, this is still a fantastic run, and I enjoyed every page.
When Babylon 5 creator and longtime Amazing Spider-Man scribe J. Michael Straczynski took the reins on relaunching Thor, I admittedly wasn't too thrilled with the results of the first collected volume of the series. What's found here in the second volume of Straczynski's Thor however blows that out of the water, as Straczynski crafts a much more action packed tale this time around, as well as more developments with Loki's grand scheme. We also witness Thor having surprisingly poignant conversations with two dead comrades, his father Odin, and his late old friend Steve Rogers, the original Captain America. It is in these moments where Straczynski's writing shines the most, and it is in the landmark 600th issue that is collected here where much of what Straczynski has set up comes together, including a run in with the Dark Avengers. There's brilliant artwork from Marko Djurdjevic and Olivier Coipel as well, helping make this second collected volume of Straczynski's Thor all the sweeter. All in all, think what you will of Straczynski's first Thor storyarc, and whatever those thoughts may be, if you are a Thor fan in the least, this second volume is a must own.
on August 30, 2009
When I first picked this collection up I was very pleased with the dark leather and golden letters that simply displayed the name "Thor" on the front. The book simply looked good on the outside and the artwork within is again, like the first volume, fantastic.
The story begins right where the first volume ended, with issue #7, to find Thor drained from restoring Asgard. As not to spoil anything, I will only mention that the roster of characters grows slightly with the appearances of Odin, Jane Foster and Sif coming back to Thor's / Don's lives (in one from or another--one scene involving Sif actually caused me to mutter "How frustrating!"). Bill Jr. becomes more than a waiter at a diner and actually brings some comedic value. The scenes involving his attempt at being romantic with flowers and his teaching of basketball to the Asgardians actually made me laugh: as Bill is speaking to a large Asgardian man about basketball he says "A point isn't a thing, you can't see them or anything...its just a count, one-two. You have two points, your opponent doesn't have any--" and the Asgardian interrupts "How can you know he has no points if you cannot see them? Perhaps he is hiding two points with which to attack you later?" (haha). Moments like these show Straczynski's sense of humor and depict a lighthearted way of Earth meets Asgard. Balder too becomes quite important when Loki informs him of something rather mind blowing, creating a dynamic triangle between the two of them and Thor. Another appearance, be it a short one, worth mentioning is that of the great spirit of Cap himself which gives closure between Thor and his good friend, a well written scene.
I enjoyed the issue revolving around Loki. The way it is written really brings everything contained in this volume together and is somewhat cleverly done. Loki is such a manipulator that he even manipulates himself. Fantastic. In the end, Loki's scheme comes to fruition and puts Thor in such an awful situation ( I won't spoil it but it's pretty well done ). The final moments of this last issue truly made me despise Loki (as he should be) yet made me question the intelligence of both Balder and Thor (yes, yes Asgardian Law forced it to end that way...they couldn't have seen it coming...hmm).
All in all, the story is absolutely fantastic. I love what Straczynski has done for Thor. Coipel's Thor is incredible and the artwork throughout the volume is so well done that I can truly enjoy just looking at the panels. The scheming of Loki is a tad bit obvious for the reader but that can't be helped because the reader learns just about everything that Loki does, so we can only know as much. The fights are good but I really like that this newer Thor is more about story and character development than it is about epic battles (even though some disagree).
So, if you're a fan of Thor or you simply enjoyed the first volume, you will most definitely enjoy this one, the second volume being deeper and more improved than the first. Loved it!
on April 20, 2010
This volume of the new Thor series was flawless in my book. Loki developed a complicated plan to take down Thor that was unanticipated by every reader. If you thought the first volume was good, this one makes it look like a straight-to-dvd borefest. I loved the first six issues, but Straczynkski really took his story to a new level in these issues.
Like I said, Loki is an intelligent villain this time around. I've read some Thor stories where Loki is mostly a predictable pest, but in this story he/she is terrifying. I was invigorated to see a real villain step up to the plate and take a swing at Thor's heart. It's great villain writing and action plots like these that make Joss Whedon clutch his Astonishing X-men in fear. Bottom line is that J Michael Straczynski is at the top of his game at this point.
Don't be concerned if the story is going to grow from volume 1. Volume 2 is bigger, better, and faster. It contains unique storywriting with involving plots. I'd say this is the best Thor I've read yet, with the previous volume and Fraction's work coming in at a close second. I think this is some of the best material Marvel has out there right now.