As an avid comic book collector since the age of ten, which at this point was *sigh* twenty-three years ago, I’ve amassed a decent size collection over time. However, in the fortress of longboxes stored in my closet, there is one title that never made its way into the fold. That title? Thor.
Along with Iron Man, Thor is one character I never seemed to find a connection with as a young comic reader who devoured most of the titles I would lay my eyes upon. (Yes, even the likes of Youngblood and Darkhawk made it into my library before Thor). As the Marvel Cinematic Universe began to unfold a few years back, I found that I was developing an interest for these superheroes that I never followed too closely before. I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of Thor, so I resolved that I would pick up some of his adventures in comic book form when I had the chance. For my birthday earlier this year, my clairvoyant wife presented me with a trade called Thor: The Mighty Avenger (The Complete Collection). As thrilled as I was to finally start exploring the world of Thor, I had all the more reason to dive right into this volume because of Chris Samnee’s art, which I had started following last year on Daredevil & The Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom. I blew through all nine issues in record time, and when I finished reading I realized that I was smiling for some reason. Then it hit me, this series was just plain fun. I was like a young boy getting into comics all over again.
Roger Langridge, the writer of Thor: The Mighty Avenger has crafted a wonderful series of one-off stories starring the son of Odin in what I would probably describe to someone as Thor: Year One. I started reading this collection thinking that I was going to be dropped in the middle of Asgard and would have to pull up a Thor wiki to help me with continuity. To my surprise, these tales are written wonderfully by Langridge as a jumping-on point for the God of Thunder. The first issue begins with a flash of lightning and we are introduced to Jane Foster, who becomes our tour guide into this series as she crosses paths with Thor and gets to know him in the same way we as new readers gradually do. The issues really go by at a rapid pace, with Thor battling the likes of Loki, Mr. Hyde, giant robots and teaming up with Namor, Iron Man, Captain America and more along the way. There’s also a really fun chapter where the Warriors Three drop by Earth to take Thor to a pub for a guy’s night out, where he happens to get into a spirited brawl with Captain Britain. The writing in this volume is something of a throwback to comics of the 1960s in terms of its lightheartedness and innocence, but it definitely has more of a contemporary sensibility.
As far as the artwork for the series, Chris Samnee provides illustrations that create a perfect marriage with the jocular tone of Langridge’s writing. Samnee has what appears to be on the surface a simplistic style, but when you study the images for more than a fleeting moment it becomes apparent that there is a lot that goes into these pages. His mastery of drawing highlights and shadows stands out so well that the only comparison I can make is to the work of Mike Mignola. More importantly, Samnee’s sequential storytelling is one of the reasons I made it through this volume at such a rapid pace. It is so seamless that I’m not even sure if I was reading all of the speech bubbles, but I could still tell you exactly what was happening in each tale. The proverbial cherry on top is Matthew Wilson’s coloring. He uses a vibrant palette, with rich oranges conveying late day sun or the light of a campfire & cool blues when Thor and Namor are out at sea during the night.
Overall, Thor: The Mighty Avenger proves to be a real treat to read, especially if you have no prior experience with the character in comic form. “Fun” is the word that I keep coming back to when describing the book. If you’ve read and enjoyed the likes of Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil or Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men, this might be right in your wheelhouse. The only negative thing I can say is that nine issues of this series was far too few.
As always, if you’d like to join in on discussing this title, feel free to comment below or reach out on Twitter, I’m @theothersteve_m.