Story: Jason Aaron, Noelle Stevenson, CM Punk
Art: Timothy Truman, Marguerite Sauvage, Rob Guillory
Letters: Joe Sabino
Annual edition comics typically have two distinct paths. The books either punctuate a current event in comics or tell a campy story with little to no continuity ramifications. Thor Annual definitely takes the comedy road, but along the way manages to swerve in a poignant moment or two.
The book is a collection of three offbeat stories written by Jason Aaron, Noelle Stevenson, and Marvel newcomer/future cage fighter, CM Punk. No doubt the book is led both linearly and structurally by Aaron’s tale of future all-father Thor in a story that displays a sentimental side of the Asgardian. As he mourns for his long dead Midgard, Thor’s granddaughters create a grand gesture in which the thunderer himself will shape the fabric of the universe. Combined with the solid artwork of Timothy Truman, the story has a ton of emotional impact.
In the book’s second tale, writer Noelle Stevenson and artist Marguerite Sauvage craft a cartoony tale of the new goddess of thunder’s trial to prove her worthiness to the warriors three. Stevenson’s story shows how this new Thor is more than just “Lady Thor”. Her character relies on cunning and female charm to overcome the trials the boys put her through. While I don’t have a lot of exposure to this new Thor, if she’s always this clever and confident then she’s worthy of a place in the new Marvel U. Of course we still have to find out who this Thor really is under the helmet. Sauvage’s art is like something out of a fairy tale storybook. It’s dreamy in how soft it is, but the delivery of her painting is spot on for the action comedy. If I had to point out one minor annoyance, it’s that I would have enjoyed seeing more background in her panels.
Finally, CM Punk and Chew artist Rob Guillory step up to craft a short story about the dangers of drinking Asgardian booze. A young, pre-hammer, Thor is challenged by Mephisto in an attempt to alter history and prevent him from ever gaining possession of Mjolnir. At first it seems odd that a writer who made a career out of living a straight edge drug/alcohol free life would tell a story about heroes getting blackout drunk. However, once you get to that last memorable page the moral makes complete sense. I found myself impressed. The jokes were well timed and the pace flowed smoothly; definitely not his first time telling stories. Rob Guillory’s art style is stellar for animating this short. He extends so much exaggerated nuance to the characters and basically does in ten pages what most artist can’t do in thirty; draw a complete tale. What I’m most impressed by is how the pair got away with a skinheads and punx reference in a mainstream Marvel book.
$4.99 is expensive for a comic book. For some of us, collecting comics can amount to the monthly price of a family phone plan. So I don’t say this lightly, Thor Annual is worth the price of admission. While it might not change the character forever, it gives old-and-new fans a meaningful levity that balances out the monthly epic battles, and sometimes you just need feel good stories.
If words like Wolverine, H2O, and large pizza are in your vocabulary then follow me on twitter @bouncingsoul217. Here’s a free digital Thor Annual for making it this far (1st come 1st served).