Review: Thor #600

(****)

The best issue of Straczynski’s Thor is here! But, I haven’t been a fan of his run at all, so that’s not saying much. Kudos to Marvel for offering an anniversary issue that is near irresistible. You get a double-sized issue of your scheduled programming, plus a ten or so page tale by Stan Lee and David Aja. Some humorous Mini Marvel action and about twenty pages of Lee and Kirby reprints round out one hell of a package. Though tossing a fin will be troubling, you do get 104 pages for your cash.

Straczynski’s Thor has been meandering and depressing. When Thor re-launched, I gave the first three issues a shot. The first issue was decent, but the second and third were incredibly awful. I later borrowed the first trade and still found it to be bad. Fortunately, the last six issues have been better, but Straczynski’s Thor has got to be one of the most overrated runs that I know of.

The issue begins with a resurrected Bor, Odin’s father. He’s wreaking havoc on New York due to a distortion spell from Loki-Sif. Basically, Loki puts Thor in an unwinnable situation and the rest of the issue is smashing, bashing, and thunder. That makes for a nice jumping-on point as well, since this issue is mostly action. The story, what little there is, is pretty good. It sets up a new status quo for Thor firmly based in Marvel’s Dark Reign for better or for worse. This title has struggled between Straczynski going off on his own, and the fact that Asgard is in Oklahoma. Whether it was Straczynski’s decision or Quesada’s, the future for Thor lies in continuity.

The battle itself is mostly spectacular. Coipel makes this book his own and begs even those most disenchanted with what Straczynski’s doing, like yours truly, to purchase this book solely for the art. Marko Djurdjevic joins Coipel this time, but the two don’t perform randomly like Land and Dodson did on Uncanny X-Men #50o. Coipel handles the normal stuff while Djurdjevic renders Bor’s spell-induced nightmare. Both artists did a remarkable job. Coipel shows the action, emotion, and even an “Avengers Assemble!” masterfully. And Djurdjevic has a lot of fun demonstrating Bor’s distortion, like when Spider-Man appears to be Venom in Bor’s lens.

My main complaint with Straczynski’s tale is perhaps the direction it’s taking. The Dark Reign moments were my least favorite parts. When Thor cries “Avengers Assemble!”, only a few jokers show up. I won’t spoil it, but why would only those guys appear? There must be close to a hundred heroes, and villains actually, that could’ve answered the call. It’s a ridiculously contrived moment. The status quo change is interesting, but the guest appearance on the last page is not. You can count him on your “most appearances in Dark Reign list” along with Osborn.

The bonus material is fun. The Lee/Aja tale is much like the main one; you can ignore the words and just gaze at the art. Aja produced some amazing work and Lee’s “story”… is pedantic to say the least. Thankfully, we’re also treated to some classic Thor stories as well where Lee redeems his good name. Stan Lee is in top form in these reprints and Kirby is, as always, the king, though these are some of the Vince Colletta-inked issues that are very controversial among Kirby fans. The last addition, by Chris Giarrusso, is hilarious. It pokes fun at Straczynski’s run so as you can guess, I had a blast.

The love outweighs the hate here. Marvel offers quite a hefty tome filled with glorious art that makes up for a bit of lackluster story. Good anniversary issues are rare, but you can count Thor #600 among them.

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12 thoughts on “Review: Thor #600

  1. I guess I can see people not entranced with Stracyzniski’s run on Thor, but I know that I loved it. Oh, and 3 is easily the best issue. Just because it was what I know me and all of my friends wanted, Thor kicking the crap out of Iron Man for being a jerk. Still, I can see people not liking it. I found it fun, but overall, the outcome is kind of stupid to me. I personally found Thor trying to take over for Odin a fun part of the story. The fighting was awesome, and beautiful, but the end wasn’t to my liking based off of everything else that’s been done in the series. Oh, and like always, Chris Giarrusso is amazing and hilarious. He is also a great guy. I saw him at a couple cons, and he is great. He is one of my favorite artists and storytellers.

  2. Not to kick a hornet’s nest, but Thor #3 was absolutely horrible. I completely understand why people like it though.

    Straczynski’s Thor is decent. There are some interesting ideas, but they’re way too drawn out. Two or three cool things in thirteen issues do not make a good comic. I suppose all the decompression is nice for Coipel, the book looks beautiful. In fact, when they do put out an oversized hardcover of the first thirteen issues, I may pick it up for my love of art and Thor.

    I wish Matt Fraction and Patrick Zircher were on Thor. When the Thor movie comes out and Marvel releases another ongoing, I hope Fraction is on board. A man can dream.

  3. How was 3 horrible? It made perfect sense from both Iron Man and Thor’s perspectives and the only awkward thing was Heimdall’s guy yelling at Thor for not helping New Orleans (which when it is revealed as Heimdall in him makes more sense). Thor 3 was what sold the series for me. See, what I like is that Thor didn’t hold back the way he always has, and that is what made Thor interesting, in that he was a god, not just some superpowered person. I haven’t read it in a long time, but there was nothing I can remember that was outright bad, even taking into account things that I may like, but can see as bad (Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Plan 9 from Outer Space). This wasn’t like that. I really do want to know why you thought issue 3 was “absolutely horrible”.

  4. Ha! Plan 9 is awesome!

    Issue 3, must I revisit it once again? Ok, sorry, this will be long.

    Besides the Thor/Iron Man fiasco, the issue was ok. The whole Katrina thing rang false and sappy to me. It’s a dangerous business tackling real events, especially in a world full of heroes. You would think, in a world full of gods like The Sentry or Superman, that travesties like 9/11 or Katrina would be avoided. An idea I admire is explored in Morrison’s Manhattan Guardian and Final Crisis. Things that are dreamed of are part of the DCU reality, like the proposed new World Trade Center.

    Now we can get to the Thor/Iron Man “fight”. Whether you thought it was good or bad, Civil War remains the most discussed event in comics history. Raging debates took place in comic shops everywhere. I have always been a fan of Iron Man. Heroes today are almost like the mythical gods of old. I would recommend reading a book called “Our Gods Wear Spandex” that goes into detail. There’s a reason why fans are so passionate about their favorite heroes. You can imagine the hard times I went through when one of my old favorites was called “villain” and worse nouns by hundreds of people. I heard that supposedly Bendis and Millar said that they weren’t responsible for this. That it was the tie-ins that skewed people’s perceptions. I have read Civil War and every single tie-in (I was really into it) so I too was rooting for the anti-registration team.

    Almost two years after Civil War ended, an oversized hardcover came out. I didn’t have the trade and I wanted something to remember all the longing and frenzy that I felt over those eight or so months. So I reread the series. To my surprise, I found myself sympathizing with the pro side a lot more. Heck, by the end, I agreed with them. Though it was a dirty fight and both sides made mistakes, it was pro that was ultimately in the right. The conclusion actually worked the second time through. There were several extras in the hardcover. Among those were commentaries by Millar and others and Millar himself stated that he was pro all the way, even though he tried to present an even viewpoint.

    After a bit of thought, it came to me that Straczynski was the key architect in fandom’s hatred of Iron Man and his pro cronies. He painted Iron Man as an evil allegory for the Bush Administration. Oh sure, a few other writers indulged in it too, but Straczynski was firing on two fronts (Spider-Man and Fantastic Four). In addition to this, Straczynski has voiced his problems with crossovers interfering with his writing. And so, Tony the whipping boy was born.

    I believe Straczynski had already done it (Twice I think) in Spider-Man, but once again Iron Man flies up to Thor and says “Hey bitch, I know you just came back from the dead, but you got to register, motherfucker!” “I say thee nay!” We’re then treated to several pages of Thor just beating the shit out of Tony. This is pure manipulation. Straczynski is merely exercising his anger towards Civil War by treating a beloved Marvel character like trash. And even at the end of the trouncing, Tony says something like “Ok, you don’t have to register now. I’ll give you one free pass.” Complete and utter filth!

    See what I said about “Not to kick a hornet’s nest”? Because now I want to lead into something else that you’ll probably disagree with. Ok, so I hate it when beloved characters are treated like shit and most others do as well. But when it happened in Thor #3, only a few complained. Then, fast forward to a year or so later, and Thor is involved in another “beloved character trashed” moment. Only this time, it’s at his expense. Hulk #5, where the Thunder God is stupidly beaten with flawed logic. When this occurred, fans howled and set fire to the streets. To me, this is another example of Hulk being satirical. Jeph Loeb gives Straczynski Thor a taste of his own medicine. Thor stupidly beats Iron Man and Rulk stupidly beats Thor.

    Sigh, you asked and I delivered. Why must all our conversations involve Loeb and Morrison? 🙂

  5. At first, I was torn between which side to support, but then I remembered X-Men. The X-Men have been fighting the Mutant Registration Act for so long and I have also thought it was wrong. The SRA is no different from the MRA aside from that it covers more ground (and thus is worse/better). I am not in favor of registration, and Tony really was the villain for me. See, hating registration, I was against Tony, and he also made some bad decisions (trap at the chemical plant, Clor, Thunderbolts, etc) and his decisions made me look at him as a villain. He is trying to enforce a law that I don’t think ever should have existed and going to the lengths that he did was horrible.

    Now, Tony took some of Thor’s hair, built a robot/clone of Thor that killed Goliath (who Thor and Iron Man both were semi-friends with), and then expects him, a god, to register with the government. Can you imagine if one of your best friends made a clone of you that went around killing people without your permission to use in a war that you don’t support? And then he comes up to you demanding you to help support him? I know I’d kick the shit out of him. Can you see where people are coming from with hating Tony Stark? I can see people liking him, and go ahead if you want to. Still, can you see why I might dislike Tony?

    And in terms of power levels, I have always thought Thor was outright more powerful than Iron Man, including however powerful Iron Man has ever been. Basically, Thor is a god with amazing power. He should be as powerful as he is. That being said, unless you disagree (which I can’t see Thor being weaker than Iron Man), Thor is going to beat Iron Man in a fight. Sure, you may want him to win, but that doesn’t mean he should. Batman shouldn’t be able to just take on Darkseid (extremes, I know) and win. Iron Man should lose to Thor in a fight. Considering Thor also semi-had the Odinpower, even more reasons that Thor should win easily. The difference with Hulk fighting Thor is that it isn’t a battle that Rulk should just win. Especially using Straczynski’s Thor with the Odinpower, Rulk shouldn’t have won easily. I don’t think he should have won at all, but considering the book it was in, whatever. I know you’ve heard this before, probably, but Thor’s magical hammer doesn’t follow physics and it can’t be used by someone not worthy (which Rulk wasn’t, assumingly). It isn’t a physics issue, but magic, and magic trumps physics. That was, well, stupid. Considering it should have been more even of a fight, as opposed to Rulk pretty much just winning outright, and considering the failure in terms of Mjolnir, people were upset. With Iron Man, aside from people not liking him and wanting to see him get beat up, he should have lost as he isn’t as powerful as Thor, not even close to being as powerful as Thor (at that time).

    I guess, I can see you not liking it, but not how it was bad. Iron Man was written pretty much exactly how I think he would have acted at that point, and Thor as well. The fight was appropriate, even if you didn’t support it. The rest was decent. I don’t think you’ve proven that its a bad issue, more that you don’t like that Straczynski put so much hate on Iron Man and that you didn’t like seeing a character you like being disliked so much. I don’t think Iron Man was written poorly in that issue considering all he had done in the recent issues. So, I think you just don’t like the issue. Which is fine, and you don’t have to like it. But it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t something you liked. There is a difference (as I semi-mentioned the opposite before).

    The conversations involve Loeb because you like bringing him up as an example. I haven’t brought up Loeb often, aside from something with him specifically. Morrison isn’t something we’ve really discussed as much, but I feel about him similarly to how I feel about Loeb.

  6. I’m going to have to do my own write up of this (probably not here, because I don’t write on here enough to really justify continuing on when all I’d do is spit out one article a month). It was AWESOME. As someone who thinks JMS is red hot right now thanks to his work on Thor and The Twelve, I thought this was a wonderful culmination of the first twelve issues. The Thor we got is probably not what anyone expected out of a title for this character, but it remains the best written ongoing superhero comic around today (the only reason I rank Hercules and Nova/Guardians higher is because they actually come out monthly). I’ll have to put more thought into it because I just read it the once this afternoon, but that was a hell of a comic.

  7. See, Civil War was actually started by Maria Hill. Cap originally supported the SRA when he was brought in to see Hill. She asked him who was against the act and he said that most were street-level heroes like Daredevil. She wanted him to hunt other heroes. When Cap refused, she attacked.

    Tony did make mistakes (So did Cap. Remember, in every single fight he had with Tony, he played dirty. Even when Tony wanted a truce, Cap planted that S.H.I.E.L.D. disruptor thing on Iron Man). The reason Millar has the pro people make so many errors was to disguise the fact that they were right. If heroes were in the real world, you as a citizen would want some kind of control. I have read too many Ennis, Ellis and even Millar books to know the devastating effects heroes would have in the real world. You would not want some lunatic who gains powers to put on a mask and start running wild. All the SRA tried to do was to train, pay, and even make heroes more effective. Hell, one of the major downsides was the revealed identities, but they weren’t even written down. They’re all in Tony’s head.

    But Straczynski tried to blur the issue by taking the opportunity to create a Bush allegory. Trying to show the violation of freedom is fine, but not when it degrades the merits of decent men. Tony paid off villains. He betrayed friends. And Mr. Fantastic supported McCarthyism. Those acts are extremely offensive and I feel they’re not the proper acts of these heroes.

    Spider-Man beat up Iron Man after he tried to sabotage Spidey’s suit. Spider-Man beat up Tony again in OMD for trying to kill May. And then for a third time, Thor beat up Iron Man. I don’t think Iron Man would fly alone to ground zero of Katrina to chastise Thor right after he was resurrected and Tony created a clone of him that killed a friend. No, that doesn’t sound like Iron Man at all. Tony is a genius. He’s also been friends with Thor for decades. I don’t have a problem with Thor beating Iron Man at all. That’s not my problem. My problem is with the characterizations. To me, improper characterizations can easily make a terrible comic. As I said earlier, I can completely understand why you, and others, enjoy it, but to me, it was offensive.

    I honestly don’t try to bring up Morrison or Loeb, it just always ends up that way. So I thought I’d make light of it.

  8. @Desiato-Really? The best? I can’t understand that at all. To each his own. I should read that long review you gave that summarized your love for the book, I guess. I try to understand things.

    And please do post your review on here. With Billy and DC MIA, it’s just the Seventh and Bruce blog.

    Weren’t you happy that I put Casanova as number one on my top ten? See, I understand some things. Go check it out.

  9. I do think Iron Man would go to Thor directly to try and convince him because they were friends. See, from what I remember, Tony asked him to join, because, well, they’re registering all superhumans, and Thor gets pissed at Tony for making Clor who killed Foster. I didn’t see Tony acting any differently from how I thought he would act. I tried explaining from Thor’s perspective. Now imagine that you had a friend who was really helpful, and he was gone, but you still needed his help in confronting dangerous people. So you cloned him, but he went crazy and you had to shut him down. Then, he shows up again, and since he was dangerous, someone has to talk to him. Since he was your friend, it makes sense to try and talk to him.

    See, that is what I feel Iron Man thought, that it needed to be done, and better him than some random person who doesn’t know Thor. I mean, Thor was his buddy, so yeah, I think he would go down by himself. And I don’t think he expected a fight, but when Thor got really pissed at him, I think he felt it would be better to try and bring him down, then sort it out later, as opposed to letting someone like Thor just go about (as he isn’t registered and is “supposed to be”) on his way.

    And again, I don’t think registration is right, as, well, most of these people didn’t ask for powers, nor want them, and a lot don’t use them, but those who do, often use them responsibly. Not everybody can benefit from army-type training. The Initiative was a horrible idea that just failed every other week, pretty much (which was why I read that comic). Registration for the sake of registration isn’t right. I might support it if I lived in the Marvel universe, and didn’t know who Peter Parker was under the mask and as Spidey and could see everything he’s ever done (as an example). Sitting from here, I don’t want registration. If you do, then good for you. I’ll stop trying to convince you otherwise, if you stop trying to convince me.

  10. I was happy that you put Casanova at number one. I was even happier when Fraction said we’d be seeing more Casanova THIS YEAR when CBR interviewed him at NYCC.

    I think the fact that Thor defiantly refuses to play nice and be the book we expected is much of the reason why I love that damned book so much. This is the JMS from Babylon Five (which is very different than Fantastic Four or Spidey JMS). This is a book about politics and the petty malaise that sets in when a group of ultra-powerful gods are confined to the outskirts of a tumbleweed town in Oklahoma. But you’ve also got this growing sense of decay that’s seeping into every nook and cranny of Asgard as Loki infects the mind of Balder. I love the fact that there’s very little action, but every issue just feels EPIC. It’s heavily Shakespearean, and I dig the hell out of that.

  11. @Pi:”I’ll stop trying to convince you otherwise, if you stop trying to convince me.”

    Done. I’ll see you on my review for Dark Avengers #2…when you disagree with me. 🙂

    @Desiato: Yeah, I saw that. I had heard (And told you I think) about it already, but was happy to hear it confirmed. It did bug me that Fraction doesn’t quite have things planned yet. I would rather wait a year than have a rush job.

    Ok, I read your review of issue #10 and I still feel the same way. I love what you described here. I love Shakespeare. I love epic. I love politics. I love Thor and even enjoy Coipel. I don’t, however, enjoy this series. Maybe it’s because I have disliked everything JMS has ever written. My past opinions may interfere with my current ones, but I have given it a chance. I’ve read seven issues and have gotten summaries of the other six. There are good things, but it hasn’t nearly achieved what it tries to. Still, I did enjoy this issue.

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