I'll be honest and up-front here – I've never been a huge fan of Thor, and I've strongly disliked a lot of Jason Aaron's recent work, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I opened up Marvel NOW's new Thor: God of Thunder #1, with Aaron at the writing helm alongside artist Esad Ribic. I mean, Thor's cool and all, but I've never really felt the desire to read about him and only him. I'm more of a sci-fi nerd than a sword-and-sorcery nerd, although I can certainly appreciate the latter on occasion. Despite my loathing of Aaron's Incredible Hulk, surprisingly enough, Thor: God of Thunder #1 was one of those appreciative occasions.
We start with young Thor in the late 800s A.D., man-slutting around Iceland because he loves taking advantage of hero worship when he kills monsters for people – and he comes across the severed, terrified head of a Native American deity, and tries to shrug it off. Then, in the present day, Thor actually does what gods are supposed to do and answers a prayer – this one from a young boy on the planet Indigarr who wishes to save his planet from drought. Thor hears, shows up and does just that. Wow. An attentive, helpful god. Go figure.
Then, Thor becomes shocked to find out that there are absolutely no gods for the Indigarr people. Apparently, this is new to him, given the sheer amount of pantheons out there. His invea stigation into why this is leads him to the discovery that they once DID have gods, and they've all been murdered. Likely by a being Thor names as Gorr The God Butcher.
Finally, we get a very old Thor, eye-patched and sitting alone on the throne of Asgard, which has been overrun by Gorr's attack dogs, and he finally gets up, weary but determined, to die fighting – and it includes a great reference to that big moment back during Kurt Busiek's Avengers run with the Odinson's great line "Ultron! We would have words with thee!"
So we've got three different versions of Thor in one book, each with their own stories centered around one antagonist we've yet to meet. That's an interesting way to spice things up, especially if you're adding the element of Thor being the type of god who actually answers prayers. Then there's the stellar art of Esad Ribic, whose majestic style is a perfect fit for a book like this. So many panels look like they're taken from works of fine art, the whole issue starts to seem like it belongs in a museum. Ribic is just beyond reproach.
It's a strong debut issue for Thor: God of Thunder, and the idea of a deity-focused serial killer is an interesting one. We'll see if Aaron can stay on track with this compelling set-up.