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Thor: Ages of Thunder Paperback – December 30, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The first three are presented as interwoven stories detailing some of the greatest events in Asgard's past, and they are adapted from old Norse Myths, some of which reader's may be familiar with, making it essentially backstory on how Asgard and its residents were ages ago. We see how certain things came to pass: How did Heimdall become guardian of the Bifrost? What caused Enchantress to be so broken? How was Sleipnir the eight legged horse created? And most importantly: what events lead to Thor's banishment. Fraction tells these stories with heavy narration, and though I usually dislike such a method, it fits the tone of the book. It feels like we are sitting down around a campfire to listen to tales of eons long gone.
These stories, like the myths that inspired them, are epic in scale. Blood raining from the sky, great battles waged against Frost and Storm Giants and armies of undead. These stories are also intended for a mature audience. There is no shyness to gore, violence and sexual content here. Thor has no problem throwing Mjolnir right through an enemy's head and celebrating his victories by grabbing a few concubines to pleasure him for the rest of the night. Like others have said, this is not the Thor we are familiar with, the noble protector of Midgard (Earth). Thor here is wrathful, arrogant and has one hell of a temper (AKA: he is Thor as myth portrays him). The main focus was to show us the events that led to Odin deciding his boy needed a time out. The fourth story is set back in our times and is presented as a heartfelt tribute to one of the most renowned stories by Walt Simonson, who is to this day considered by many as THE Thor writer. It is the weaker story in this set, but is still an excellent story possessing the same scope as the previous tales.
The art here is, for the most part, amazing. The first three stories feature two different artists, one for each half of any given issue. The shift is noticeable, but not enough to be jarring (one uses a slightly brighter color palate). These three issues look absolutely gorgeous, and everything is rendered in the scale one could imagine it: from Thor fighting waves of undead to dueling Brunnhilda the Valkyrie to battling a Godzilla sized Storm Giant. The 4th story, however, features an artist change 4 times, each with a radically different style. The shift is very jarring, and even though it's part of the story, a couple of the shifts feature a lamentable quality dip.
Though there are some nitpicks, this is a great collection of Thor stories. Any fan of the character will likely enjoy Thor: Ages of Thunder.
Though an avid comic reader, I've never read a Thor comic and still know nothing of his background as a character in the Marvel universe. I have read Norse mythology, however, and I do like heavy metal -- several reviewers have stated these as being the only prerequisites to thoroughly enjoying Ages of Thunder. Actually, they were right.
All but the last story in Ages of Thunder are rather true to Norse mythology, meaning those who have read The Prose Edda: Norse Mythology (Penguin Classics) may actually feel more at home with Ages of Thunder than those who have only read Stan Lee's Mighty Thor. If you've read The Prose Edda, the fact that the gods practically live off of golden apples will not surprise or confuse you, neither will the misogyny (as some reviewers seem shocked to find) or the ease with which Norsemen both kill each other over petty issues and forgive one another for egregious crimes. On the otherhand, the last story will be completely lost on those who haven't read Walter Simonson's Thor -- out of nowhere, a non-Norseman, who for whatever reason Thor and Baldur feel attached to, is in the story carrying a machine gun. And then Thor has a machine gun. It is a jarring story, made more jarring by the shifting art styles (and some of the artwork is quite honestly atrocious), built upon a reference that will be lost on the general reader -- who this book, it seems, was intended for. Had even the last few pages of Simonson's story been included in this book for the new readers, I'd take no issue with the story... but as it is, I had to stop and google the non-Norseman's name to catch up with what the Hel was going on.
Setting the last story aside, the other stories are appropriately epic and the art masterfully done. There is a Tolkien-esque vibe in the way the worlds are presented, and sometimes you can almost feel Amon Amarth's drum pedals beating with the panels. Highly recommended as there is tons of re-reading potential here.