Thor: For Asgard #1-2

Posted by on October 26th, 2010 at 12:01 AM

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Marvel. Written by Robert Rodi, drawn by Simone Bianchi, colored by Simone Peruzzi; cover by Bianchi, Peruzzi and Cory Petit; $3.99

Is it any good? Not really. Marvel’s wool-mouthed version of Shakespeare is always heavy going, and no other kind of speech is provided here. Sometimes the writer connects. I liked this well enough: “Each has attracted a faction of similar minds from whom they hear nothing but the merit of their own words.” Neatly expressed, I think. But you don’t read a comic, or anything, to find one neat expression of a secondary idea.

The story itself is slow and simple with nothing unexpected: wait, wait, ponder, discuss; then, all of a sudden, the attack from nowhere. The chief stooge, grinning, offs himself rather than spill the evil mastermind’s name. This is the kind of thing that makes you feel newness is impossible in a modern superhero comic, that it’s been factored out of the basic equation.

The drawing is leaden except for some of the architecture. The artist wobbles when it comes to anatomy. He’s all for getting it out there, not so keen on keeping it from looking like packing cases and small kegs. Sometimes he has trouble getting a head to be the right size for its shoulders. In close up his faces do tend to look like somebody, but in medium shot they don’t, more like shovels with a beveled surface.

The colorist has given everything a marzipan glaze that I like. It goes with the decorativeness of the art, whose design is skewed toward the presentation of big, fat images in high-style arrangements. This design bias can be hellish, of course, because it keeps wrongfooting the story. A page is built around a shot of Thor reacting (he’s dismayed), but what he’s reacting to (women and children held as hostages) gets lost down at the bottom of the page. That way the artist has room for the pair of frost giants who buttress the page’s centerpiece, the big round shot of a dismayed Thor. So what we’re looking at would appear to be an illustration of how scared Thor is of frost giants. I counted a half-dozen pages like this; my theory is that, as before, we see the original-art market’s influence at work.

How gay? A bit here and there. The bedroom scene displays a lot more Thor flesh than lady flesh; one of the naked shots has him with his legs spread and a drift of luxury bedding in the way of his privates. The sequences with Mjolnir show a lot more shaft than I remember from boyhood. The story reason is that Thor can no longer lift the hammer; instead it’s balanced on its head atop an altar, shaft in the air. Thor faces off with altar and hammer, grasps shaft, cannot get it up — oh dear. The subtext here isn’t gay or straight, just male, but it does provide a lot of symbolic dick to go with the rumpled-bedding shot.

In #2, a pack of gilded youth titter about Asgardian shibboleths. Offhand, it’s the only successful depiction of bitchiness that I’ve seen in a Marvel comic; anyway, it beats Jan Pym or the perfumed courtiers seen in the Roy Thomas Conan.

And why ask how gay? Because the writer is Robert Rodi, author of Closet Case, Bitch Goddess, Drag Queen and many other books. He’s gay and writes mostly about gays, whereas Marvel comics are pretty much overwhelmingly not written by or about gays. Hence a situation; but not, as it turns out, an interesting one.

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One Response to “Thor: For Asgard #1-2”

  1. […] comic”: That’s Tom Crippen talking Marvel super-comics at The Comics Journal. In a review of the first two issues of Thor: For Asgard, he asks how gay and how male the comic is, while applauding its successful […]