The Best of Marvel’s Fresh Start #2 – Thor

RCO001_wJason Aaron’s time with the God of Thunder has given the character and his universe some of their best stories. He introduced Gorr, the God Butcher, a foil to Thor that made the son of Odin question his entire existence, an act of forced self-awareness that would ultimately cost Thor his mantle.

Next we got Lady Thor, Jane Foster, picking up the hammer and continuing to fight for the nine realms, even as doing so slowly killed her. These stories could not have been more different, and they were both certainly divisive, but they represent two extremes upon which Jason Aaron operates. Now the next major chapter in Aaron’s incredible saga begins but where on the Aaron spectrum it lies is still uncertain. We have a return to the muscled macho God of Thunder, but one who has been humbled by unworthiness, one whose job was held by a woman, his ex, while he was deemed a failure. Aaron has spent the bulk of his time on Thor so far breaking down the Son of Odin while building up the people around him. Finally Aaron is rebuilding the broken Thor, and it couldn’t be more beautiful.

del Mundo’s colors on display.

This newest series is the best since his debut on Thor, God of Thunder, returning to the same kind of primordial god warring that made the 2012 series so compelling in the first place. While Aaron’s middle period featuring Jane as Thor was quite good as well, seeing the Odinson back in the mantle feels fantastic, and the first story back from unworthiness is intense as hell, just the way it should be.

The first issue starts the Thor rebuild literally on the front cover. “God of Thunder Reborn!” What follows is a romp of mythological combat wherein Thor faces Juggernaut, Namor, and squares off with Loki, all gorgeously rendered by Mike del Mundo (with Marco D’Alfonso credited for color assists.) The back half of the issue features Jason Aaron and Christian Ward returning to the future of God King Thor. Aaron introduced the three timelines of Thor (pre-worthiness past, present, and God King future) way back in his debut series and finally returns to them to give readers some of the most cosmically insane superheroics in years. The final panel in the opening to this phenomenal new series is a sweet moment for fanboys: an ancient cosmic Wolverine, now seemingly hosting the Phoenix Force as well, delivers a classic line.

Christian Ward also deserves praise for his distinctly cosmic color work.

While that story would pick up again in issue 5, the next three before it are some of the most beautifully drawn comics to come out of Marvel in years. Aaron has always paired himself with fantastic interior and cover artists, and this newest Thor series is no different. Mike del Mundo outdoes himself on issues 1-4, also providing some Thor: Ragnarok inspired coloring to his magnificent covers. Christian Ward returns for issues 5 and 6, which also feature two amazing covers from Esad Ribic, including issue 6 which is my current pick for cover of the year. Jason Aaron has made this new series a greatest hits of sorts, bringing back stories from his early run, and bringing back artists that helped shape his early success. This should be a lesson to any writer who gets the gift of having several years with a character: start off with your best ideas, then get experimental, then take what works from those experiments and return to your original vision. It couldn’t have worked out better for fans of Thor.

Thor: Ragnarok’s influence.

While Jason Aaron’s writing can be divisive, Thor is no doubt having his big moment right now. Not often do we get a new defining run for a character who deserves more than his legendary runs received (not to say there haven’t been excellent writers on Thor in the past, just fewer than many other heroes). Besides, if you aren’t upsetting some portion of the fan base, are you even really a comic book writer? Aaron has proven that even if a story starts strange, or seems like it may be going nowhere, it usually changes course and ends up right where it needs to be. And if this series lasts as long as his last two Thor sagas have, Jason Aaron will have a nearly 150-issue epic on his hands, and one that will stand as the definitive Thor story for years to come. For now though, we get to witness one of those legendary runs unfold monthly. Lucky us.


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