Posted by: Graeme McMillan on July 9, 2007
It’s not exaggerating to say that all of my positive feelings about THOR #1 come from Olivier Copiel’s artwork. Which, considering I finished the issue and thought to myself, “Well, I might pick up the next issue to see where they go with this after all,” is saying more than you may think.
J. Michael Straczynski’s resetting of the Lee/Kirby dynamic here is the kind of thing that doesn’t really make that much sense if you spend too much time thinking about it – I didn’t read the last issues of the last run of Thor’s title, but it seems from this issue that Thor didn’t die after all, but just ended up in some kind of ideological limbo that was also inhabited by Donald Blake, who was (years ago) unmade by Odin, but that unmaking was then itself undone by the death of Odin, which somehow undid all of Odin’s magic except for the bits of Odin’s magic that are necessary for the series to work. I have no idea if any of this will be explained in future issues, or if it’s just the kind of doublespeak that readers are expected to just accept as the necessary evil in order to get Thor back and move on, but I chose to go for the latter option and look at the pretty pictures instead. And what pretty pictures…!
Copiel’s choice of making Thor larger – or, at least, broader – than life manages to both differentiate him from Donald Blake and also give him the physique that makes you believe that he really could stand up to Ice Gods or whatever other Asgardian monstrosities come his way; I particularly liked his out of control eyebrows and broad nose, for some strange reason. The same cartoony impulse reappears towards the end of the book, with Donald Blake’s new landlady, whose happy panel wearing glasses was a wonderfully welcome moment of visual comedy in a scene that could otherwise have been bogged down in too-clever dialogue. Copiel obviously likes drawing people instead of just superpeople, if you can understand the distinction; his body language and comfort with clothing (He understands how clothes hang on people, unlike so many superhero artists) are the signs of a smart artist who’s looking to do something more than just whatever happens to be popular or hot right now, and his panel layout on the second-last page of this book – almost entirely silent – is something that makes me want to see what else he could get up to when paired with a writer who wants to challenge him a little more. I’ve been a fan of Copiel since his Legion work, but this book really makes me want to see him on something out of the mainstream so that he can show just how good he really is.
It’s interesting; I know that I should give this book an Eh because, really, the story’s not up to much at all and the dialogue borders on the pretentious and ridiculous. But the artwork is so good that I’ve kind of got to say that you owe it to yourself to at least take a look and decide for yourself whether this is as Okay as I ended thinking it was…