There’s something about the single issues of Fraction and Ferry’s Thor that feel slight compared to Fraction’s Uncanny X-Men and especially his Invincible Iron ManUncanny, he’s writing dozens of characters and multiple subplots and the soap opera drama that the X-Men require; with Iron Man he has ideas to convey and a protagonist who’s maybe a little bit more interesting outside of his armor than when he’s in it.
Thor is an entirely different beast. It’s widescreen comics about Norse Gods fighting horrible, demonic creatures from beyond called World Eaters. It’s about cosmic daddy issues played out over vast battle scenes as father and son slay legions of villains alike alongside gargantuan, Shadow of the Colossus-esque figures. This issue is mostly about the big fight with the World Eaters, so there’s far less of the hapless quantum cosmologist Dr. Eric Solvang interacting with gods and getting kicked in the nuts by Jane Foster. Mostly, the mortals just seek shelter as it rains blood upon Midgard.
While it seems like I’m damning the book with faint praise, I know I like Thor based on the following phrases I read within #620: “Asgardian Blood Colossus,” “A blade that could slice through space and time itself,” “Asgardian Blood Legion,” “Chop the World Tree apart at the root,” “The very fabric… of things… is being ruptured and torn by strangeness” and — the pièce de résistance — “Bring me the head of the Odin-Son!”
In other words, this comic is crazy-epic, and nearly everything about it struggles to be contained within panels within pages. John Workman’s amazingly rendered dialogue balloons run across multiple panels, floating above the boxes trying to hold them. Pasqual Ferry’s figures reach and grow and stand taller than the gutters, too great and powerful to be held within boxes drawn by some human artist. And there are nine double-page spreads. All of it is larger than life, too huge for some flimsy comic book pages to even hope to maintain.
Thor #620 is almost entirely cast in red hues by colorist Matt Hollingsworth, reminiscent of Eisenstein’s color sequence in Ivan the Terrible, Part II and, in the writer’s own oeuvre, Uncanny X-Men #510, where the battle against the Sisterhood of Evil Mutants alternates between full-color panels and red panels to signify flashing emergency lighting. Here, it’s not an alarm, but cause for alarm: it’s raining blood. While an all-red issue may sound like a gimmick or an uninteresting color palette, in Hollingsworth’s hands the warm colors he uses are all distinct enough to give the figures on the page definition. And, if there’s any monotony, you get a bit of glowing blue mystic energy to break it up.
It’s all so big that, while I only like Thor at the moment, I know that I’m going to love Thor when it’s collected as a complete story — the format in which Fraction and Ferry’s run so far begs to be read. Let’s just hope that the hardcover is oversized.