Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Paco Medina (p), Larry Stucker & Juan Vlasco (i)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The book opens in a small fishing village which has fallen on hard times as the lobster population in the region has been pretty much run into the ground. We then look in on a father who finds his son is all set to graduate from high school, and seeing that there's no future to be found catching lobster, this man is bound and determined to send his son to college. However, given his lobster traps are continually coming up empty, the man is buried under a mountain of debt, and he's barely able to met the day to day expenses let alone able to provide the necessary funds to send his son to college. We also see this man is a devoted Catholic, and that when he's approached by some local who have taken to worshiping Thor, the man is quick to turn down their offer to join their religion. However, when his attempts to secure funds for his son's education are turned down, and the bank ready to foreclose on his house, the man makes a rather desperate decision, as he heads out to sea in the middle of a storm, knowing he'll be killed, but that his wife & son will benefit from his $250,000 life insurance policy. However, his plan is interrupted by the arrival of Thor, who not only saves the man's life/ship, but the Thunder God also restores the lobster population, thus returning the man's livelihood.
I like the idea that Dan Jurgens was able to deliver a complete story in a single issue, and I'll also credit the book for placing itself in a setting that fairly unique for a comic book story. However, the truth of the matter is that even with this new setting the story itself was far too predictable for me to draw too much enjoyment from it. I mean by the time the book had finished establishing that this village had effectively tapped out its lobster population, and that our lead character was a devoted Catholic, I had already figured out how this story would play out. I mean Dan Jurgens has already covered this ground far more effectively in an earlier story, when he followed a nun working in the hospital for the terminally ill who abandoned her faith in God, when the Gods of Asgard came to her hospital & cured the patients. This issue does a pretty good job of establishing why people would gather under Thor's banner, but this idea had already been displayed in previous issues, so this issue does feel like it's trying to sell the readers on an idea that has already been explained. Now it's a perfectly readable issue, and I'm sure newer readers will find the issue quite enlightening, but for me the idea of Thor's charitable actions swaying people to his cause has already been established.
While Thor makes a pretty major contribution to this story, I have to say that part of me is growing a little concerned by this book focusing all its attentions on the impact of Thor's activities both good & bad, rather than on the character himself. Part of it is because I feel the case for both sides has already been made, but a more important element that I feel Thor has essentially become detached from his own title. I mean we don't really know what's going on in Thor's head, as he's only in the book for one, or two pages at most, and when he is putting in an appearance more often than not the book doesn't deliver much insight into what Thor is thinking. I mean one can guess by looking at his actions that he's still fully committed to the path that he's moving down, and that we aren't getting a better look at what Thor's thinking because he hasn't changed his mind. However, in a book that has expended so much of it's energies creating a debate, I do have to wonder if it's really a good idea to leave Thor out of the loop, so to speak. I mean I want to know what he's thinking when he hears people making their objections known, as Captain America one of his closest friends has come out against him, but we've yet to see Dan Jurgens even make an effort to acknowledge this.
Paco Medina deliver a very solid issue that's rich with detail, and most importantly very strong when it comes to conveying the various emotional states of its characters. The success of this story is heavily dependent on one being able to recognize the sense of defeat on the father's face when he pulls up all his traps to find them empty, or his conflict on that final page as he makes his way to the Church of Thor. The book also does some nice work playing up the setting where the story is set, as we get the seagulls littering the skyline, and the boat floating past in the background to nicely play up the idea that this is a sea side community. I also have to make mention of how nicely the art delivered the issue's big impact moment, as the man's encounter with Thor on the storm tossed ocean was a very powerful bit of art, with the one-page shot of Thor being a wonderful look at the character in action. The whirlwind effect that is used to keep the boat from being swamped was also nicely done. Now I did find the little dress-up game that the fishermen employed to express their devotion to Thor a bit silly, but then again it's a nice simple way of expressing their commitment to the cause, so I'm not going to make too much of it. I loved the cover to this month's issue as well, as it's a very striking visual, with some lovely lighting effects.
A pretty solid issue that would be far more enjoyable if it hadn't been devoted to making a point that has already been made. I mean this issue is a bit like watching a remake of a film, as while there's some enjoyment to be found from taking note of the changes that were made, the simple fact of the matter is that we've seen this dance before, so the book feels like it's simply going over ground that's already been well established. Will new readers find the issue enjoyable? I'm sure they will, as when Dan Jurgens delivered this story previously using the nun working at the hospital for the terminally ill, I was very impressed by the complexity of the story. However, having read that story, I have to say this second kick at the can isn't nearly as strong, as one never really gets the sense that religion plays a huge role in this man's life, and as such his decision on the final page lacks the sense of importance the earlier story managed to deliver.
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