May 4, 2011

The Mighty Thor: My Favorite Character to Whom I Have Had the Least Amount of Exposure

I saw Thor over the weekend, loyal Cubers, and it was great. Now I don't cover comic book movies on this website, and I won't be reviewing Thor. One reason I don't cover comic book movies is because I want this site to be purely about comics, or at least about comics as purely as possible. Another reason is that I usually can't stand comic book movies, for more reasons than I should ever even try to get into.

But I loved Thor and I thought it was fitting, considering that Thor is (get ready for this) the character I love most to whom I have had the least exposure.

That's right, guys, I haven't read THOR comics as much as I would like to have read them. In fact, I own only a handful of THOR comics and one — yes, just one — trade paperback. And yet, he's in my top three favorite Marvel heroes. Maybe in the top two, depending on how I feel about the Silver Surfer on any given day. How is that possible? More after the jump.

Thor symbolizes everything I love about superhero comics. He is, in the purest sense of the word, awesome. As in capable of inspiring great awe. I think his entire universe is a prime example of pure Silver Age Jack Kirby creativity, with designs that mix what the Norse Gods were long thought to wear, what the Vikings actually wore, and superhero conventions. In the more grounded and "realistic" world of the Marvel Universe (as opposed to the DC Universe), Thor was unique. He wasn't relatable (at least not obviously so). He was a big guy in a cape. He looked like a DC hero, but being set in the Marvel Universe, he had a swagger that none of the other Marvel characters had. He knew he was the most powerful, and he didn't bother hiding it.

My first exposure to Thor came as a kid when I used to watch those horrible 1960s Marvel cartoons. Of course, they were horrible because they were basically motion comics — stuff like legs moved when running, but the rest of the body would stay static. Still, they had a certain kind of charm, and what I didn't know then was that the charm was in-built because the drawings came from Jack Kirby and the original Marvel comics.

Look, here's the first part of the episode where Thor meets Hercules.

Of all the Marvel cartoons — Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man, and the Sub-Mariner being the others — Thor was my absolute favorite, by a country mile. It could just be because I love mythology, or at least the barebones aspects of myths, and I love magic. The fanciful ideas of mythology as depicted by Kirby's pen — the Rainbow Bridge, Asgard, trees that hold Loki prisoner — and the characters — Loki, the Executioner, Hercules, Amora the Enchantress, and my favorite, Volstagg the Voluminous — were really big ideas and really capture the imagination.

I forgot about Thor for most of the 90s since the Thor running around for a good portion of it wasn't really Thor, but an earthman named Eric Masterson who was worthy enough to hold Mjolnir, Thor's mighty uru hammer. See, one thing that I also really liked about Thor was the fact that he had this big grandiose way of speaking. Stan Lee really nailed that, and future writers really ran with it. It was just part of the package, and was a great way to capture a kid's imagination.

So, essentially, this was cool:

This was not:

I didn't really think Thor should be a relatable everyman. I know that's Marvel's whole thing, but one thing I loved about Thor was that he was the exception. So basically I forgot about how awesome he was until 1998, when Kurt Busiek and George Perez relaunched THE AVENGERS.

Look, guys, this is Thor's entrance. The story is that he's been missing for a while, and all of a sudden the Avengers are getting attacked by mythical beings. (This was scanned from two different pages and put together on one page.)

How cool is that?

Under Busiek's pen, Thor was the secret weapon of the Avengers — always held in reserve, waiting for just the right moment to strike. And Perez always drew him as more than sufficiently badass.

Also, try reading his dialogue out loud. With emotion. Come on, just try it. It's FUN. Here, start with this famous line among fanboys. "Ultron. We would have words with thee."

But what could probably be my favorite Thor scene comes from Mark Waid and Ron Garney's run on CAPTAIN AMERICA. See, Thor is awesome and fun, which are two of the best things about superhero comics. Another is just plain absurdity played straight, and I always thought this scene was a perfect example of it. Witness now: the Norse God of Thunder drinking a milkshake!

I fell out of comics for a while at the time, but I really really really really liked Thor. Thus, Thor holds the distinction of being one of my favorite characters with a minimal amount of exposure. I recently got THOR VISIONARIES: WALT SIMONSON volume 1, and it was fun and imaginative, and I plan to get the rest of the collection. But I know I want to get Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's stuff first, which may be problematic considering just how many volumes there are.

So basically, what have we learned through this little trip down memory lane? We've learned that Thor is awesome. We've learned that Duy hates comic book movies. And we've learned that Duy loves Thor the movie. So you should see Thor, because if I can enjoy it, you will love it. So get off your butts and go see that movie.

I leave you now with my one complaint about the movie: that Volstagg the Voluminous wasn't voluminous enow. I mean, enough.

"Realism," my ass — sometimes he's ridiculous because it's awesome to be that way!


Allysons Attic said...

I know little to nothing about Thor.
I've seen him in Avenger cartoons, and that's about it.
BUT...the commercials for the Movie have got me excited and I can't wait for this weekend.

I probably will like the movie better because I know little to nothing about the character and can except the stuff that I normally cringe about when watching.

Duy Tano said...

Well, I don't think anyone in Thor was out of character, even remotely! It was a great movie, and I can't recommend it enough.

Also, nice to see you again, Allyson!

Jason Quinones said...

walter simonson's run is the definitive look of thor for me. have any those books.if not you should check em out.

Duy Tano said...

I have the first one. I do want the others, but I want the Kirby ones more.

Ty Templeton said...

Also recommended: Some of the John Romita Jr. run from the "re-numbered" Thor of the early 21st, and later in that same series, Dan Jurgens had a yeoman run towards the end in which Thor ascends Odin's throne, and hilarity/tragedy ensues.
And of course, the first year and a half of the most recent relaunch by Coipel and Stranzcynskitwioy-cvitch (sp?) is wonderful good.
But that Kirby guy put some work in too.

Duy Tano said...

Thanks, Ty! I actually really want to see the Dan Jurgens/JRJR run. JRJR draws a great Thor (and I usually don't like his Spider-Man). I usually can't get into anything JMS writes in comics though, although I really loved the movie, so I'm still way hesitant on that run

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