Thor God of Thunder #12: Once Upon a Time in Midgard.
(This review includes some spoilers for Issue #12 of Thor God of Thunder)
After a long stay away from his adopted home, the Norse god of thunder steals away to New York City, visiting old friends, and working miracles. Following the events of the recently concluded crude sounding story arc “The God Butcher”, Thor has takes leave from saving the Earth. What persists throughout this comic book is a sense that Thor is a guide, and a role model for the people he visits. In some cases, he offers salvation in the form of food from other worlds: Thor feeds the starving children of Rio de Janeiro with elvish delicacies, and dragon shank roasted over a fire.
This is the God of Thunder as compassionate. Generous with his time, and amiable across all settings, Thor in this Marvel comic differs from the warrior Thor readers might expect from a Thor vs Hulk, or a Thor vs Superman comic book.
Jane Foster returns, and a new character named Roz Solomon arrives. With old and new friends around, there’s a some catching up for Thor, which means conversations. Action might be lacking in this issue, but there’s still conflict of some substance.
The greatest moment is Thor and his friend Jane Foster sitting on the moon, watching as the Earth and sun pass each other – a sunset of epic proportions. Washes of light and colour are used to flood scenes and individual panels. Since Thor is moving from place to place so often throughout the comic, these colour filters help establish a sense of place, and ease the rapid transitions. The final page of the comic is overcast by black tones, and occupied by an older version of Thor in the distant future. This contrasts with the initial page of the comic, which is covered in a white light depicts young Thor visiting vikings in 893 AD.
Roz Solomon appears at a S.H.E.I.L.D academy graduation ball. Solomon asked Thor to attend this formal event as her date by posting a video online, which likely caused some amusing gossip. Thor responds to the video invitation – this seems like a superficial way to introduce a new character. Roz is an environmentalist, who was once interested in making all the other agents jealous, but invited Thor for an important reason: to remind him of the environmental damage taking place around the globe each day. She wants a god to notice the damage being done to the environment.
Then there’s Jane Foster, the character played by Natalie Portman in the 2011 Film Thor. To safeguard against strong spoilers for the issue, I won’t delve deeply into the changes brought to her character in this issue. There is fair bit to write about, such as the fact that this might count as a Woman in refrigerator Trope (It dosen’t, in my opinion, since she is not a super hero, she is a supporting cast member, and similar issues are plaguing other supporting cast members of other Marvel comics)
Themes, Ethics, Values.
One significant scene is three pages about capital punishment – Thor helps a man named Fulton by bringing him a last meal of a culinary calibre unheard of on Earth. The fruit of the Kandelar Tree from the planet Endoogo has a taste that is new and vibrant: The fruit presents a flavour that the taster has known seemingly all their lives. Thor then agrees to accompany the man after his death into the afterlife, no doubt to the halls of Valhalla of Norse myth.
He provides nuns in a remote convent with seeds from the Quasar orchard taken from the seed library of the Halls of Life located in Omnipotence city. Thor flies to the a remote Buddhist monestary to tell stories of his adventures to the Abbot. He drinks beer with American war veterans, makes rain in a drought stricken dessert, and confronts religious fundamentalists, as they brandish sings that read “God hates you”. The set of ethics here is to follow Thor’s generosity – he offers an example to live up to. It’s also an interesting exploration of what might happen on an Earth visited by a compassionate god.
Then there is the key value of the comic book: defence of the Environment.
Roz Solomon asks the god of thunder if he is aware of the damage being done to the environment. Old Thor walks across an Earth turned to ash, with no life anywhere. Does this result prove Roz Solomon right?
The IPCC , The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, conducts the kind or research that Roz Solomon would work on as an environmental scientist. NASA delved into the findings of the IPCC reports, and noted that the costs and damage of climate change will be significant and increase into the future. This accounts for the desolate, grey, and un-living world the older Thor walks over.
The themes that run through the comic book are protection for the environment, in addition to charity and selflessness. The position about capital punishment is ambiguous, however: is capital punishment acceptable as long as the criminal being put to death is treated to some comfort (food, friendship) to ease the execution? Should Thor have interfered with the law of the state he was in and freed the man?
A bit more on Thor God of Thunder #12
A welcome glimpse into Thor’s world outside of his influence on the Avengers and other Marvel comics re-introduces old friends, and introduces new ones. A break from Thor’s adventures crossing the universe, which could easily have felt like a waste of time, is a strong comic with good character moments.