Welcome back to The Marvel Rundown. This week Marvel Legacy is in full force as the publisher is resetting several of their titles back to their original numbering–this gives The Mighty Thor an excuse to hit a milestone! Ever since readers found out the identity of the new Thor, we knew Jane Foster’s days were numbered–read our latest thoughts on Foster’s milestone issue in this week’s Marvel Rundown!

The Mighty Thor #700

Written by Jason Aaron
Pencilled by Walter Simonson and Matthew Wilson, Russell Dauterman and Wilson, Daniel AcunaJames Harren and Dave Stewart, Becky Cloonan and Stewart, Das Pastoras, Chris Burnham and Ive Svorcina, Andrew Maclean and Stewart, Jill Thompson, Mike Del Mundo and Olivier Coipel and Stewart
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Reviewed by Alexander Jones

Over the past couple of decades, the talent on Marvel’s ongoing Thor comic book has been astounding starting with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and moving forward with Walter Simonson’s work. John Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel established the modern version of the character and made the room for Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic to pick the title up just a handful of years later for a run on the hero which will go down in history. 5 years into Aaron’s run on the title, the staggering ambition fueling the character is still in full force. We’ve seen numerous protagonists, alternate timelines and heavy emotional material throughout the series. When Aaron decided to swap leads with the new Thor, the writer brought an exuberance and energy to the character unmatched in any other Marvel series currently on store shelves. Jane Foster’s time as the hero has been bleak, beautiful and laugh-out-loud hilarious sometimes all in the course of one issue–The Mighty Thor #700 marks a significant milestone for Foster’s tenure as Thor, but unlike Marvel Legacy #1, this massive comic is focused, tense and nearly perfect.

Lots of tremendous talent come together here to tell stories concentrated around every iteration of
Thor that Aaron has ever crafted story for. This narrative is unwieldy and chaotic but in a magnificent manner, touching on each iteration of the character the writer has ever felt passionate about. Aaron is backed by incredible talent, including regular series artist Russell Dauterman who illustrates the greatest double-page spreads and layouts in his entire career thus far. He utilizes the page to conjure sheer magic, doubling-down on the aspects that make the hero great. Dauterman contributes most of his work towards on The Unworthy Thor’s storyline which suits his pencils well as the creator is mostly focused on building out the staggering world surrounding Asgard. Even though there are a lot of visual elements weaved in from the movie like Thor’s new haircut and some of the costumes from the Dark Elves and the other residents of Hela’s domain–the comics have an incredible psychedelic aesthetic that can only be achieved with the unlimited budgets and the grand scope of comics.

Dauterman becomes extraordinarily focused on experimenting with the medium of comics. The creator uses wizards as a panel border in one double-page spread bearing an incredible sense of confidence. The artist’s shining moment in the title is a spread late in the issue loaded with secrets and surprises integrating so much mystery and surprise to the characters here. The artist will utilize a sort of abstract panel border and load the rest of the page with detail and drama. Dauterman is one of the greatest creators currently working at Marvel and remains to be criminally underappreciated in modern comics conversation despite an Eisner award. Perhaps this installment of the series will start shifting the conversation towards the work.

There isn’t a bad artist in the bunch here and all of the talents are weaved together incredibly smoothly. The way Marvel editorial pulled in familiar favorites like Dauterman and Ribic are fantastic, but readers are also treated to Marvel creators of the past like Coipel and Simonson. Huge comic book industry fans are going to get a kick out of seeing wild creators like Das Pastoras, Jill Thompson, Becky Cloonan and Chris Burnham drawing the hero. This is a dream come true for anybody who passionately loves expressive, beautiful artwork which operates outside of the house style of both DC and Marvel. Daniel Acuna lends a great sense of style towards the main feature as well.

The comic is also structure in an endearing manner as readers get to see the book shift between so many Thors. The book ties the threads together loosely between stories in a creative manner. Aaron also gets to check in with some plot threads seeded in the story years ago–there’s a sequence featuring Galactus and Ego The Living Planet proving to be downright insane. The comic has some Grant Morrison-level ideas and is not afraid to dole out multiple examples per page while keeping the same degree of heart and sincerity this book achieves in every installment. The degree of tragedy carried by both female leads in the Jane Foster story utilizes a sad, melancholy feeling making the milestone issue actually feel important. While the lead feature with The Unworthy Thor continues to be slightly vague, there are still enough teases about upcoming wars and status quo changes for existing readers to get enveloped in the storyline.

A comic and even an anniversary issue like this one has the potential to not deliver or feel underwhelming. With this latest installment of Thor, this isn’t the case as the wonderfully expressive and personal nature of the story will delight longtime readers and peak the interest of new comics fans. This issue proves both Thors are important and have a distinctive place in the Marvel Universe while making sure to tell a charming narrative along the way.

Verdict: BuyThe Mighty Thor #700 is a beautifully illustrated and written anniversary issue which celebrates why readers love Marvel’s Gods of Thunder.

Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #1

Written by Declan Shalvey
Pencilled by Mike Henderson
Colored by Lee Loughridge
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
Reviewed by AJ Frost

“Dammit, Wade!” 

Aargh! What a frustrating read. Even though Deadpool, despite his popularity and prolific presence the Marvel roster has been hit or miss lately and Old Man Logan is off being critically acclaimed by movie audiences and fans alike, the first installment of Deadpool vs. Old Man Logan #1 is a mixed bag. Which is not to say that is a bad issue, per se. There is a lot of solid material contained within these pages, but there is so much more could have been done to make this issue spectacular. As is rendered in this inaugural issue of a new storyline, the beats are extremely familiar and by no means breaking from the norm. Thus, readers are left with a story providing tastes of greatness but one which can’t seem to reach its potential. 

First, the good stuff. For anyone coming off the street with even a cursory knowledge of Deadpool’s antics, they are in abundant supply here. The same could be said for Logan, whose easily-recognizable brooding and impatience with Deadpool is tangible. The juxtaposition of attitudes between the characters is nice and the tension they can be a fun distraction when the issue is firing on all cylinders (sometimes it comes close). As any fan of the Merc with a Mouth knows, there is no end to Wade’s ability to be a complete and utter annoyance to everyone around him and writer Declan Shalvey does an acceptable job of keeping Deadpool in his zone, while also giving Logan an antagonist/partial ally to play against. The rapport between Deadpool and Logan—a strange word, I know, but it is there—acts a veritable Jungian matchup between the two spectrums of the conscience; in a word, the contrasting nature of the characters does make them fun to watch even if their actions make no sense.  Likewise, Mike Henderson’s art is vibrant and broad, with his drawings showcasing both the violence of both characters as well as the nuances of their interactions. In other words, there is a lot of style on this issue. 

Consequently, there is barely any substance. The major fault in this issue is how the plot leads nowhere and the character beats are almost a parody of fan expectations. Yes, seeing Deadpool and Logan fight each other (and Logan’s claws easily and repeatedly destroying Deadpool’s seemingly endless supply of katana makes for a nice gag) is all in good fun, but what is the point of seeing these actions yet again when there isn’t a meaningful resolution of the issue? Indeed, the arc of the story feels forced. Teaming up these polar opposite characters should yield bigger results, but by the end of the issue, readers are left wondering what just happened without even minor catharsis. 

For fans of Deadpool and Logan, this storyline could produce some great laughs and daring adventure. But right now, the first issue just doesn’t have the oomph-factor to prove it. Perhaps down the road, there will be more to everything going on here. In one sense, this comic is a little disappointing. On the other hand, it is only the first issue and I’m sure there will be more here than meets the eye. I just wish Shalvey had laid some more cards on the table. 

Verdict: This is a BROWSE. This issue contains a flair courtesy of Henderson, but Logan and Deadpool’s interactions need to have more weight if their conflicts going forward are to have an effect on readers.