Three issues in and Thor: God Of Thunder is still hitting the high notes. While I'm not a fan of Jason Aaron, his more Conan-inspired take on Thor has been a refreshing change from the convoluted and largely boring run we got from Matt Fraction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not considering Thor a total victory, simply because Aaron has a tendency to start strong and end horribly. Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine, solo Wolverine and The Incredible Hulk all began with promise and then completely fell apart. In the case of The Incredible Hulk, the run had become polluted by the third or fourth issue. That being said, Thor: God Of Thunder #3 is really good.
Aaron has split his Thor project into three sections, past, present and future. In the past, we watch as pre-hammer Thor lays waste to enemies, drinks mead and fights without rhyme or reason. Present day Thor is on a quest to find out who is murdering ancient gods right under the noses of other immortals. Future Thor is having one last battle against the very deity committing these heinous murders. What makes this story arc so interesting is how Aaron blends the three timelines. Past Thor is fearless and looks to face an unknown enemy in the depths of a cave, while present Thor recounts the day he learned fear in that cave, and future Thor battles that fear for his last fight. Something that causes Thor to be scared? Okay, now I’m interested.
Each storyline here has its own merit. We rarely get a chance to see what Thor was like before he accepted the mantle of Mjolnir. I like that Thor is fearless and without a shred of humility. It also makes whatever happens to Thor in this cave that much more exciting. Present Thor’s story is brutal, the recounting of how each God has been slain is awesome, as is Thor’s realization that nobody cares. Future Thor is saddled with Aaron’s attempts at bad humor, but they don’t overshadow the story. Future Thor is cool simply because it’s one-eyed Thor trying to kick the ass of that which scares him. Awesome.
Esad Ribic’s art is really hit or miss here. When he does hit, his blending of fantasy art a la Frank Frazetta and comic book art is perfect. Thor visiting the death of each God is where Ribic’s art really works. When the art falls flat, it really fails. The entire scene of Thor at the mystical hall of records is garbage. For some reason, Ribic has Thor looking like Captain Overreactor in each panel. Thankfully, the more quality work wins out over the other stuff, but Ribic should work harder to make every panel as perfect as possible.
(4.5 Story, 3.5 Art)