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Thor #55

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Tom Raney (p), Scott Hanna (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man imprisoned in a cell, seemingly helpless to prevent the approaching tragedy that he believes will occur as a direct result of Thor's recent actions. We're then treated to a brief visit with the a trio of Asgard warriors as they try to convince an aggressive Arab army to surrender, but their request falls on deaf ears, and they are force to deal with their attackers. We then look in on the Enchantress, who we see is in conversation with Loki, and in a rather unsettling development we learn that Loki approves of Thor's recent decision to take a more hands on approach in his dealings with humanity. We then look in on Thor himself, as he's arrived at the United Nations to address their concerns. While the message that his actions are unwelcome & are serving to impede human development is clearly presented, we see Thor is unwilling to listen and he is quick to point out that thanks to his involvement most of mankind's greatest problems are no more (e.g. illness, hunger, environmental pollution). We also see that Thor's actions have inspired one of his old enemies to step forward and proclaim his undying loyalty to Thor.

Comments:
This story is proving to be a wonderful examination of the question how important is free will, if the force guiding your actions isn't acting against your best interests. I mean Thor may be quick to anger, and his efforts are driven by a rather simplistic black & white morality, but truth be told up to this point of the story his actions look to be making the world a better place. Where this story hits it's stumbling block however is when it reminds the reader that this book is set in the Marvel Universe (e.g. the arrival of Absorbing Man), as when these scenes play out, one starts to wonder about the elements the story has yet to address. I mean what do the Avengers think about this, particularly Captain America? Has Thor paid a visit to Latveria and freed that country from Victor Von Doom's iron grip? What about the power hungry villains & groups who have set their sights on controlling the world? This story does work best if you place it in a vacuum free of all continuity issues, but the simple fact of the matter is that the Marvel Universe was created as a shared universe and as such the fanboy in me who grew up with this idea & greatly enjoys it, is having difficulty ignoring the lack of response by the rest of the Marvel Universe.

While the material avoids the Marvel Universe issue, it deserves full marks for its examination of the central idea, of how the world would react to a conqueror who came sporting miracle cures to almost all of mankind's woes. I mean it's easy to raise an objection to a ruler who has taken away your freedoms, by using brute force & who maintains their rule through similar means. However, this arc has had Thor & his fellow gods coming across as the best thing that could've ever happened to humanity. They're curing the incurable diseases, bring food to the starving & putting down the aggressive war mongering nations. The issue also doesn't shy away from casting an eye inwards, as there's a little scene in this issue where we see an American chemical weapon factory is destroyed by Thor. The question of religion is also brought to the table though Thor's response is a little too padded and feel good for my liking. Still, Dan Jurgens is doing a very capable job of setting us readers up, as the scenes with Zarrko reveal Thor's plans are going to go off the rails, and he's likely to drag humanity along for the ride. One also has to feel a bit disconcerted by the idea that Loki is 100% behind Thor.

I had thought that Tom Raney had already moved over to the DC side of the fence, so his art on this issue was a welcome surprise. The art on this issue is Tom Raney's regular super-detailed style that one can't help but be impressed by, as the little details fill the panels, from the leather binding on the sword grips, to the chips in the stonework of the buildings. There's also a one-page spread where I noticed that Tom Raney managed to slip in a fairly violent image, as we see a man's body has been quite literally ripped in two on the battle field, and we also get what looks to be a popular scene in this series as we see a man separated from one of his limbs. Now the old school reader in me is a bit thrown by the new Marvel, which doesn't shy away from the more gruesome aspects of fighting, but given they are warriors trained in the art of fighting, there is something to be said for the art being able to show the reader that the Warriors Three aren't afraid to use the weapons they carry. There's also a wonderful quiet moment in this issue where we see Loki & the Enchantress are busy discussing Thor, and the art does a great job capturing the unspoken intent the lies inside both of these characters.

Final Word:
I think the best way to approach this story at the moment is to think of it as a what if style morality play, along the lines of the Squadron Supreme, as frankly the material is far more engaging when you ignore the impulse to wonder how the rest of the Marvel Universe is reacting to Thor's attempt to remake Earth into the idealize paradise he believes it can be. Dan Jurgens is certainly doing a pretty good job of presenting the idea that Thor's actions might actually lead humanity into paradise, as except for Zarrko's assurance that Thor's actions will doom the human race, so far we've been given very little reason to be overly concerned by what we seen. I mean arguments for self reliance sound pretty hollow when Thor counters by pointing out that he's ended hunger, poverty & illness. This issue also brings Loki into the picture, and it places him in a decidedly unique position, by having him openly praise Thor's actions.



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