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Thor #61

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Ben and Ray Lai

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Plot:
The book opens with Jake Olson getting suspending for the unauthorized medical procedure that he carry out last issue, and we see his frustration over Thor's actions is mounting. We then look in on Asgard as we see Volstagg is assigned as Tarene's bodyguard, and we see his efforts to remain out of sight aren't nearly as successful as Tarene would prefer. We then look in on Thor as he arrives at a meeting between the various gods who are worshiped by humanity, and we see none of them are exactly pleased by Thor's more hands on approach when it comes to dealing with humanity. As these gods put Thor through a series of trials, designed to test whether he is worthy of a place in their council, we see Thor's inability to let mortals chart their own path has him failing the final test. However, in spite of the other gods making their case known, we see Thor is unwilling to listen, and he returns to Asgard where he finds Jake Olson waiting. However, Jake's attempts to convince Thor that he's got to back off and stop baby-sitting the human race fall on deaf ears, and Jake finds himself booted out of Asgard. However on the way out we see Jake spots a potential ally who might be able to help him stop Thor. However, this ally is the extremely untrustworthy Zarrko.

Comments:
It's become pretty clear that this current arc has set out to present to other side of the argument when it comes to Thor's involvement on Earth, as this issue he's brought in to speak with the other gods such as Zeus, Vishnu & Shiva, who all make it fairly clear that they do not appreciate Thor taking such a direct hand in the lives of the human race. It does make sense that these gods would take umbrage to Thor's activities, as we've already seen that Thor's activities have shaken the faith of a deeply religious woman who was working in a hospital for the terminally ill, so it stands to reason that Thor's actions would also eat away at the worshippers of these other gods. Now this issue doesn't really dwell on this point, as it's only after Thor has left that these gods make their true objections known, but if nothing else this issue adds another check to the negative column that I really hadn't thought of. This issue also continues to play up Jake Olson's role, as we see he continues to make his case that Thor has crossed a line that he shouldn't have, and this issue has him pleading his case to Thor himself, who is in no mood to listen. However, the final page does make it clear that Jake may receive help from a rather unexpected, and largely untrustworthy ally.

As for the hoops that these gods make Thor jump through, I do have to question the validity of that final test, as they have people approach Thor stating their livestock have died & their crops won't grow, and the correct solution that Thor fails to recognize is that he should taught them how to grow their own food. This seems like a test solely designed to test one's ability to be indifferent to the plight of others, rather than a true test of allowing one's followers to follow their own path. Now the other tests are also a bit shaky, but at least one can see why they would provide insight into a character's ability to reason out a solution, but the last test clearly establishes that these people need help right away, while the correct solution would appear to be to show these people the correct way to farm, and let them starve to death while they wait for their properly planted crops to arrive. One also isn't given enough information as to why their crops weren't growing, as it would be rather pointless to show these people the proper way of planting their crops in a land stricken by drought. In the end Dan Jurgens left me a bit disappointed with this final test as while it's a solid argument, the way it's presented is too simplistic, and it doesn't really deliver the lesson it needed to.

This issue marks the debut of the new art team, as Ben & Ray Lai look to bring a fairly energetic style to these pages, though this issue doesn't really offer up much in the way of action to really confirm this belief, though Thor's quick battle with the enraged beast during the first test looked promising. However, what the art does show is a fairly good eye when it come to facial expressions, and it also does some very solid work on the backgrounds, with the cityscape of Asgard being a particularly impressive example. The book also does some nice work with the rather humorous heroics of Volstagg. If I had to make one complaint about the art it's that is doesn't really convey a sense of power when Thor puts his foot down, as when he makes his stand against the other gods, the art don't really convey his anger. The same goes for the scene where he decides he has heard more than enough of Jake Olson. Still, this issue doesn't really offer up much that would really drive Thor into a prolonged state of anger, so I'll let this perceived weak area slide until it looks to become a problem. I did like the cover to this issue as it's a fairly impressive shot of Thor about to spring into action, and the coloring work is also quite impressive, given the rather garish nature of Thor's battle armor.

Final Word:
I am glad to see the other side of the issue starting to get some play in this book, as we see the focus is no longer on all the good that Thor is doing, but rather we're starting to see the problems that he's causing. Now this issue isn't exactly doing the best job of conveying the arguments for the other side, as while involving the other gods is a nice plot element I hadn't thought of, the tests that they subject Thor to are far too simplistic, and the final test suffers from a glaring flaw that is never really addressed. Still, it is nice to see everything is coming to a head, and this issue also takes Jake Olson's role in an interesting direction, as we see a potential alliance with Zarrko is in the air. The book also takes the time to look in on Tarene who had been ushered into the background for most of this recent arc. It's nice to see the character hasn't been forgotten, and that Dan Jurgens has introduced a rather amusing plot element involving Volstagg.



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