I have a confession to make.
I LOVE a good conspiracy theory. Love them. The more mental and unlikely, the better. I watch Alex Jones launch into tirades suggesting that the latest false flag is proof that the Obama Super-Elite Machine Squad are coming for his guns, and they will look something oddly like Darth Vader’s Stormtroopers and here’s some footage from Star Wars OH NO HERE ARE STORMTROOPERS COMING FOR GUNS NOW like I imagine your average Football fan watches the F.A. Cup Final when their team are playing. Something akin to ‘GO ON, MY SON, GET THE PLUG FOR THE SPECIAL FOOD CLEANSING FILTERS INTO YOUR MONOLOGUE! YESSSSS!!!!! BACK OF THE NETWORK!!!’
I think this started after what I now refer to as ‘My FunnyBook Vietnam;: Six or seven years spent in the West End of London. If you’re selling comics there on a regular basis, you’re going to be confronted with any number of theories…expounded by the most delightfully colourful patrons you’ll ever be likely to meet. There are three options here. You can run, screaming with fear back home to the safety of your duvet, a nice cup of Hot Chocolate and Netflix, you can have your heart bleed open at each tragic case of disenfranchised insanity let loose on the streets of Soho armed only with a pound and a theory…
But in the end you’ll only end up hating them as you realise there isn’t very much you can do about it. You can’t put up everyone, you don’t have that much spare change or that many sandwiches. They will be a constant reminder that your ;shoulds’ are nothing with actions to back it up, and you’ll hate them for making you realise how helpless you are to change very much. And just how little has to happen before you could be in the same position in a matter of weeks.
Or, of course, you pick Option 3. Become a Connoisseur Of The Theories. You realise there is no real safety, no security. Everything changes and the only real good you can do is try to engage someone and listen to what they have to say. As a smoker, I’d be outside the shop and pick up all kinds of intriguing conversation on the world. My favourite, however, was Triangle Head. So named because he wore, and possibly may even still wear a gold triangle on his head. I have no idea if it just fits over his ears or if he glues it on every day, but the great thing about him is that he has a new reason for the triangle literally every time you see him.
If there’s a thing I’ve missed about the West End, besides Madame Jojo’s, it’s that healthy vein of lunacy, laced with equal parts comedy and tragedy. I suspected I’d never really see it’s like again.
Until Marvel announced on ‘The View’ earlier this year that we’d be seeing a new Thor this autumn. The twist, as we all know by now, is that the new Thor would be a woman. I don’t know if there was something awkward in the phrasing or something, but my InBox was ablaze with variations of ‘OHMIGOSH, THOR IS….TRANSGENDER NOW? FOR REAL?’ IS THAT GOOD?I confess I do actually have days off from Comics News, and while I’m sure I probably get slightly more eclectic mail than many (Including all round good bloke and tremendous comics writer George Khoury messaging me out of the blue to say he was sending me a personalised print of Adam West for…some reason. That was amazing, but threw me a bit. Anyway, his history on Marvelman remains the best book on the Kimota saga, and is always worth picking up. Marvel really ought to reprint it.)
So, given the sheer volume of Transgender Thor questions I was getting, I looked this up. Okay. There’s going to be a new Thor. This Thor will be a woman. Seems reasonable. Use the brand name and it’s inherent automatic sales to try to reach out to a new and generally ignored audience: Women. Best case scenario, Thor sells the usual amounts and then picks up a pile of new female readers. Worst case: It tanks and we’re looking at ‘Thor: A Lass No More!’ (1 0f 8, 2 issues a week. $4:99) next year. Jack the brand name and subvert it with your evil agenda. No harm, no foul.
But if 2014 has taught me one thing, it’s that for every action, there is a mind fistingly stupid reaction to be found in the Comments Section. I had my fingers in front of my eyes when scouring The View’s news message board, but this one comment stunned even me with the astounding level of imagination, paranoia and speed of reaction time. It’s one of those things I wish I screen-grabbed for history, but either it was taken down or the original poster heard the world collectively laughing at him, so I’ll try as best as I can to recollect it from memory…..
SEE?!!11!, this is IT. The Marvel Writer’s wives have all been converted into SJWs and have threatened the boys by withholding sex unless they start infecting the Marvel comics with their Liberal Agenda. 1st a Latino Spider-Man NOW A FEMALE THOR!’
‘Like, that was IT, the final piece in the conspiracy that this guy was waiting for! Now Thor had become a woman, The SJW Hydra Creature would launch itself from the Marvel offices like a multi-titted screaming banshee surging from fanboy household to fanboy household, devouring all their Terry Dodson, Greg Land and Milo Manara Marvel comics and replacing them with the lost Amanda Connor/Alan Moore project: ‘Barbie: Fashion Beast’.
Anyway, I read Original Sin, I’m not proud of it, it’s just part of my job. I’m pretty good at knowing the goings on in the Marvel Universe but I had no bloody idea what was going on in this book. Shouting in space! Big Eyes! The Orb! Guilt! I assume ;Continuity Implants!; didn’t test well as a cross-over title, although the Daredevil books that tied in with OS are worth a read, at least. What’s relevant here, though, is that Evil Space Nick Fury whispers something to Thor, and suddenly the Odinson can’t hold Mjölnir anymore. Thor Is Not Worthy! We’re Not Worthy!
I’ve skipped reading issues of Thor since then, because I don’t want the knowledge of what’s come before in Thor to inform my experience of issue 1. I want to read this afresh and see how much sense this makes as a new reader, in the same way that the presumably thousands of new readers picking this up will see it tomorrow morning:
‘And this bit is LIVE FROM A COMIC SHOP IN LONDON ON TUESDAY NIGHT, THE 30TH OF SEPTEMBER, BECAUSE WE CAN’T SELL THEM YET, I’M NOT GOING TO SPOIL THEM BUT NOTHING STOPS ME FOR WRITING ABOUT THEM!…FILTHY NEVS LOOKS AT THOR 1
By the Hoary Fucking Hosts, whoever designed that letters page wants a kick in the Volstaggs.
It’s REALLY, REALLY GOOD!
Thor 1 starts us off with your man having a sulk at Miljthingy whilst Makelith The Accursed leads a group of Frost Giants to attack Earth. The collective Asgardians have a chin wag over the fact that none of them seem to be capable of lifting the hammer anymore (There’s a rather large clue to as why that may be…) and Odin has a strop that’s made even better if you cast Brian Blessed in your head as the voice of Odin, as I have done over the odd periods of time when I’ve cared about reading Thor. (Admittedly the last time being sometime around either the Romita Jr or Simonson era.) Thor decides he’s probably done enough sulking and decides he really ought to do something about Makelith and after that…things get interesting in a way that would probably be a massive SPOILER if I mentioned them here. We do get to see who the new Thor IS, though, I can tell you that much, I think. Makes perfect sense as well.
I liked this a lot, as I said earlier, I’ve been trying to avoid both reading comics featuring Thor and any of the sneak previews that have been around the Web so I’d come into this as cold as possible. It recaps exactly why Thor’s in this state without languishing too long in recap confusion Hell, and while there’s probably still a bit too much Shakespearian effect ‘Everyone Must State Their Point Of View Before We Can Move On To The Next Plot Point’ that Marvel have been suffering from for the last few years and Makelith is one more graduate from the ‘Every villain needs to be a Smart Arse Rogue who gets better dialogue than the Hero’ School Of Modern Comic Writing.
The art, however, is the total tits! I haven’t seen Russell Dauterman’s art before now, but he is the star of the show here. He’s somewhere between Geof Darrow. Rafael Grampa and Darick Robertson and there’s a double page spread early on in the book that glued my socks on for fear of Frost Giants freezing my feet off. He’s got natural timing, body language and expression down as much as he does the grand epic battle stuff.
Against my natural judgement of not recommending Marvel comics, I’d say this is one of the better new comics of Marvel trying out this ‘experimenting with female leads’in 2014 (And seriously, how fucked are we as a business that trying to represent half the population of the planet in 7 or 8 comics out of dozens has to be some kind of brave experiment!). So here you go. A very strong Marvel comic featuring a well written, strongly motivated female protagonists. Want more of this kind of thing? Buy this. Now.
‘Don’t Tweet About It, Do It’ (with apologies to The Pink Fairies.)