Current Reviews


Thor #56

Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2002
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Joe Bennett (p), Jake Jadson (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

The book opens with a young mutant declaring war on Thor, as he has come to believe that Thor and his fellow Asgardians have come to Earth to steal away the followers of the one true God. We then join Thor as we see he's using Asgard magic to create a power source that doesn't harm the environment, or deplete the planet's resources. After Thor has finished setting up the first such power station in Cincinnati, we see he moves on to create more, but we see the young mutant from the opening pages arrives on the scene, and he uses his mutant gift to rapidly age the tower supports on the device, and Thor's power station comes crashing to the ground. As the Absorbing Man captured the young mutant, and brings him to Asgard where Thor can ask him why he destroyed the power station, we see the young man doesn't waste this opportunity to openly question Thor's motives for helping humanity. As Thor lets the young man off with a warning, we see he rebuilds the power station, only to find it destroyed once again by the same young mutant. As Thor decides enough is enough he directly confronts the young mutant, but we see their meeting is being recorded and broadcast on the Internet, and the young mutant makes it look like Thor killed him.

This issue has Thor running up against a young mutant who feels that Thor's presence on Earth is upstaging the world's belief in God, and as such Thor finds the idealize paradise he's creating is about to crumble thanks to the actions of a single mutant whose faith wouldn't let him sit back and watch the world embrace another god. Now truth be told, I have some serious reservations about how the new direction this story has taken, as instead of reaching a stage where it looked like Thor had crossed a line he shouldn't, we instead have the appearance that he has when in fact he hasn't. This in turn robs the story of one of it's most compelling ideas, which is how far is too far. Now sure the story would've likely played out the same if Thor had crossed this line all by his lonesome, but by casting doubt on whether Thor would've crossed that line if the young mutant hadn't orchestrated this little show to make it appear that he had, Dan Jurgens has in effect removed the question from the table. Now instead of a Thor who refuses to admit he's gone too far, we have a Thor who been falsely painted as a god who would kill disbelievers, and this takes the story down a path that feels infinitely more familiar, and unable to offer up any new surprises.

I do have to give Dan Jurgens full marks for not shying away from the big questions that would arise if a group of godlike beings descended from the heavens, and started performing all manner of miracles. The idea that religious groups would find it disturbing to find their followers dwindling plays a very real part of this story, and Dan Jurgens is making an effort to provide a fairly balanced approach, as there are scenes where we see Thor's actions aren't leaving everything peachy keen after he flies off to perform the next miracle. I mean we see that while he's provided a new source of clean energy, the nuclear power plant that closes as a result leaves an entire workforce unemployed. The young mutant is also allowed to make some compelling arguments about mankind's ability to make their own way, and that Thor is acting to coddle humanity so it is left unable to fend for itself. On the other side of the equation there's also no doubt that Thor's intentions are entirely with humanity's best interests at heart, and we get some pretty powerful scenes, such as the Absorbing Man's unwavering pledge of loyalty to support Thor. Sure some scenes might be a bit obvious in their intent to sway the reader one way or the other, but Dan Jurgens is asking the big questions, and the story is all the better for it.

Joe Bennett is really coming into his own on this title, as he's certainly delivering the best work I've ever seem from him in these pages. From the opening shot of Thor charging up his new power source, to the unsettling encounter that Thor has with the young mutant later in the issue, this issue is full of some very solid visuals. The scenes where the young mutant uses his ability to accelerate the age of the people & objects he touches is used to good effect in this issue, as we see the tower collapses, and one of Thor's guards falls victim to the decaying touch. I also enjoyed the scene where the Absorbing Man makes short work of the young mutant, and the resultant visit that is made to Asgard is pretty impressive, when it comes to conveying the majesty of the place. On the other hand I do have a technical question that I'm a bit curious about, and that is the art makes it look like the young mutant has recorded his death & transmitted it to the Internet via his laptop computer, and I am wondering if this is even possible, as they're out in the middle of the woods, with no apparent connection to a phone-line, or a dish to transmit the single. Then again I've never worked with a laptop, so I'm unaware of what one can do with one.

Final Word:
I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed that this story looks to have chosen the more conventional path as it enters the final stretch, but here's hoping that Dan Jurgens has a few more surprises up his sleeve, as this current arc is the most interesting this book has been since the relaunch. Dan Jurgens certainly deserves credit for exploring the big ideas, as this issue has a religious young mutant decide to wage war on Thor, and we see some pretty big questions are brought to the table & Thor answers aren't always as convincing as I think he believes them to be. Now on one hand, one can't argue that Thor's intentions aren't for the betterment of humanity, but we see he's oversimplifying problems, and his solutions are leaving behind other problems that are being left unaddressed. In the end however we see it is a simple act of duplicity that is likely to lead to Thor's downfall, and when all the dust settles, one does have to wonder if Thor will even be welcome on Earth, as at the moment, one has to think people are starting to cast a wary eye his way.

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