Review: THOR #4

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THOR #4
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Russell Dauterman, Matt Wilson
Published by Marvel Comics

Release Date: January 28, 2015

The power behind the name of Thor and under whose authority it belongs has been a contentious debate since the announcement of Jason Aaron debuting a Goddess of Thunder. For the last three issues the hammer has made it clear where that authority belongs. However, with this month’s issue, the Odinson has stepped forward still using the name and calling for the “impostor” to hand over Mjölnir

The first thing this story makes it clear is that this series is several months behind the rest of the Marvel Universe. The only downside to this is that it makes the ending of the story less surprising. Thor’s eventual final decisions, making it clear who holds the final power, has been inadvertently laid out in other series. It then raises the question of what larger purpose does this issue serve? The answer to that lies within the brief but action packed panels of Dauterman’s detailed pages. Odinson takes on an overly muscular fashion not seen since his days drawing Supurbia. This doesn’t do him as much justice. However, there is a flow and movement of the fight scenes, Mjölnir and the frost giants that has a more softened and rounded traditional comic pop art feel over the surrealistic backgrounds. This is enhanced by bright color choices of Matt Wilson. Wilson does not use filters or overlays that mute the images. Instead he has clear bright points, such as the red capes, golden hair and other comparative points that provide a connection between Odinson and the new Thor. This is an fight driven issue of loss and acceptance.

The point of debate begins from the first pages where it is the voice of the Odinson driving the story. Joe Sabino’s lettering makes it clear who is speaking through font and color uses in each box. Sabino also does a great job of balancing with Dauterman’s art to keep the flow of action from being stopped. The man who no longer is worthy goes through the steps of shock, denial and rage while witnessing the power of Mjölnir at the hands of this mystery woman. Ever since Thor: God of Thunder Odinson has been Aaron’s main story teller. The change in perspective is not surprising and does help take the reader through his steps of grieving. However, the loss of voice for our new Thor does make it feel as if, despite what the hammer has decided, it’s still not really her power to have until the man says it’s okay for her hold it. This weird emotional build up sent me between wild emotions of wanting to cry over Thor’s loss and acceptance, and concern that this was some type of lip service to help ease critics of the new Thor being a woman. The wording at the end is very carefully chosen by the characters to make it clear that whomever holds the title is Mjölnir’s choice. That doesn’t negate that you  have an entire community basically acknowledging her skill, service and power but still giving this new Thor no authority until Odinson has the final word. It, personally, left me with a feeling of a necessary evil, grieving for the lack of progressiveness within the comics community. The fact that Aaron had to create an issue specifically designed to answer critics about this name change is disheartening. However, if you are going to write a story to explain what should be obvious, this is how it is done. It’s not done by deriding the audience, calling people fools, saying they don’t understand or diminishing a long held perspective. Instead, Aaron answers critics by, in the end, having Odinson treat and react the the new Thor as he would any adversary or ally. If you reread the entire issue, picturing Thor as a male, instead of a female, his speeches hold the exact same weight. (The only exception to this, of course, are the questions Odinson raises on if she is his mother or not.)

The final identity of the new Thor continues to not be revealed, as expected. Aaron is playing a long game to keep people around every month before the final reveal. However, one potential candidate is eliminated through the story, by showing where this candidate had been throughout the frost giants fight. Between actions of Thor toward Odinson, calls of familiarity and other hints, it would seem the most likely candidate is clear as day. However, leave it to Aaron to give us a twist in future issues. This issue holds gorgeous action, quick but emotionally powerful steps in grieving and acceptance as well as thoughtful points on the power behind names.

The Verdict: 9.0/10

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