The first (in this volume) “Thor Annual” combines lots of different styles to tell three stories over the very long history of the God of Thunder. Keep reading for our spoiler free review.
Written by Jason Aaron, Noelle Stevenson & CM Punk
Illustrated Timothy Truman, Marguerite Sauvage & Rob Guillory
• Three stories featuring three Thors!
• Wrestling superstar CM Punk and Rob Guillory (Chew) on Young Thor’s idea for how to prove himself worthy of Mjolnir: a drinking competition!
• Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes) and Marguerite Sauvage tell a tale of the new Thor!
• And Jason Aaron on the Girls of Thunder’s quest to find the perfect birthday present for their grandfather, King Thor! How about a new Garden of Eden?
Annuals have gone from being special issues where huge events happen (Peter Parker & Mary Jane Watson’s wedding) to oversized and overpriced single issues that don’t do a whole lot for the main story anymore. It’s harsh, but it’s a rarity now to get an annual that means something significant or at the very least enjoyable. The most recent one that comes to mind is the “Catwoman” annual from a couple of months back that added something extra to the mob war happening in Gotham City. This week’s “Thor Annual” takes a bit of a different approach that appeals more to long time Thor fans than anyone else by telling three individual, unconnected stories spotlighting different aspects of the God of Thunder. The best way to probably do this is to go through each one individually since each story is worth the time.
The first story entitled “King Thor”, written by Jason Aaron with art by Timothy Truman and Frank Martin, takes place in the future and focuses mostly on the granddaughters of Thor as they try to give him a birthday he’ll never forget. Of the three stories, this one is the most emotionally gripping because it involves so much of the “Thor” mythos’ even before Aaron’s run. It’s a very short story but it ties into so much such as Thor’s romantic relationships, his love of Midgard and his time on the Avengers. It’s very poignant and for the more serious Thor fan, it might just bring a tear to your eye.
Timothy Truman’s pencils are fine and do fit the kind of story being told, but there is something left to be desired. The posing and the flow of the action is well done but it’s the character designs that I wasn’t into. I would not have known that Thor was Thor if this were not a Thor comic book. He’s, of course, a very old man, but he doesn’t really look like the same man. Some of the facial expressions are a little off and the Girls of Thunder have some very oddly sized lips. Frank Martin’s colors are very good though and they add just the right amount of darkness to what’s left of Asgard but there’s little contrast between there and Earth. Artistically, this was the weakest of the stories.
The second tale, written by Noelle Stevenson with art by Marguerite Sauvage, is the strongest of the three stories because it’s the most important to what’s happening in the series now. We’ve seen the new Goddess of Thunder deal with a lot in her short time with Mjolnir but in this story she has to deal with something far worse: The Warriors Three. They don’t believe she’s a worthy Thor so they haze her a bit and test her. They want to see what’s she’s made of. Noelle Stevenson (“Nimona”, “Lumberjanes”) gives Thor a really distinct voice that some people have felt she is missing. Initially she’s surprised by her own power, but she handles it in stride and comes off like a bad ass. It’s not “Lumberjanes” laugh out loud funny, but it’s very charming all the same. The way this new Thor connects with The Warriors Three is important because it fully inserts her in this world properly. She doesn’t come off as so much an outsider, and that’s been one of my own biggest criticisms since the relaunch.Continued below
Marguerite Sauvage is not an artist I am all that familiar with, aside from a few things I’ve seen on Tumblr. I don’t know if “Thor” is the right fit for her, but I did enjoy what she did here. The facial expressions and the styling of the character’s is what sticks out the most. Sauvage’s facial expressions are animated and make the characters feel alive. Sauvage’s Thor is very, very pretty because of the small things she does such as her hair being full on Disney Princess and her dark, yet alluring, eyes. The action scenes are a little frantic, though, and feel as if they’re missing something. Sauvage fits Stevenson’s story perfectly and, if we’re lucky, the two of them will team up on something I the near future.
The final story was by far the most buzz worthy because of the creative team behind it. Former WWE Champion CM Punk makes his comic writing debut with a story centered on a much younger Thor, featuring art from “Chew” co-creator Rob Guillory. As a huge WWE fan myself, I was fully prepared to make jokes about CM Punk, tying in how terrible his story his with his quitting the WWE was, but I just can’t. I can’t because it was a very fun story that showed some promise. Thor and The Warriors Three, in their much younger days, are enjoying an evening of drinking and debauchery when Mephisto arrives from another time to try and stop Thor before he becomes the God of Thunder. What follows is a very fun and completely silly (in a good way) drinking game between two stubborn men. CM Punk has a very nice grasp on what Thor sounds like and an even better grasp on how mischievous Loki is. There’s a little wrestling attitude in this story as well since both these men just want to one up each other and keep escalating things until neither one can move anymore. It’s the same mentality that exists in professional wrestling but CM Punk is a bit clever by avoiding being so on the nose about it.
I do wonder how much input Rob Guillory had on the writing. This is not to diminish what CM Punk did in his first comic story, but Guillory has a wicked sense of humor and it always comes through in the art. Much of what I laughed at was what Guillory did on art. He’s one of the best when it comes to telling a visual story. The level of drunkenness is off the charts with The Warriors Three literally falling over at times. Guillory really sells you on it because dispersed through all this is Loki’s priceless “over it” look. His art is shameless in how over the top it is and that’s why it’s funny. Everything is exaggerated from body poses to detailing on the more questionable drink choices.
Despite being an overall enjoyable experience, it’s not an absolute must read and it does pretty much nothing to move the current storyline forward. It also comes with a $5 price tag which is pretty steep when you aren’t getting a ton of extra pages. This is perfect for the die hard Thor fan, but not for the more casual reader.
Final Verdict: 7.0 – Enjoyable but overpriced and not vital to the bigger storyline.