Review Round-Up Part 2: All-New X-men #1 and Thor:God of Thunder #1

Posted: November 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

by Phil Gibson

You saw Alex’s round-up earlier today, where he treaded into Marvel NOW! waters with the relaunch of the Fantastic Four.

My pull list had just two books on it; Brian Bendis’s All-New X-Men #1 and Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder #1.

All-New X-Men #1

I am not a huge Bendis fan. Let’s get that out of the way before I say anything else. My impression of his Avengers work is that it was ambitious but not nearly as profound as he might make it out to be.

All-New X-Men #1
Property of Marvel Comics

That being said, his take on the X-Men shows some promise. Bendis introduces several subplots before getting into the actual meat of the “time-travelling first class of X-men” idea that has been at the center of discussion for this book. Beast in particular gets a lot of productive screen time as he is seemingly racing against time to leave a positive legacy on the world. Bendis does a good job with Hank McCoy, and I’m looking for his storyline to be one of the more intriguing as this book gets rolling.

On the other hand, Iceman is little more than a plot device thus far in the book. This is where my knocks on Bendis’ storytelling come in. Iceman repeatedly points out throughout the book how ashamed their younger versions would be of what is going on now (seeing as Cyclops has essentially taken on the role of Magneto at this point). It’s as if Bendis is saying “Look, right here, I’m foreshadowing that the original X-Men are going to show up and be shocked at what they see! Here, right here, there;s a plot twist!” The dialogue could be a little more subtle, and Bendis could trust his reader to pick up on what is going on without constantly spelling it out.

All in all, this issue could be a setup for a great story arc. There is plenty of room for things to get very interesting. For example, I’m really hoping there will be some excellent back and forth between past Iceman and present Iceman about his lack of progress into adulthood. That would do a lot for Bobby Drake’s character development. Unfortunately, this issue simply sets the scene for what we already know is coming. That’s not a bad thing, but it also means that readers are unlikely to gain a lot of information they didn’t already have from this issue.

Stuart Immonen’s art is fantastic in this issue. This is one of the best looking X-titles I’ve seen in a while. It’s right up there with Jerome Opena’s work on Uncanny X-Force, which is huge praise coming from me. The issue is looking at for this reason alone.

I’m hesitantly optimistic about this series. The X-men have been in need of a good central story for a while, and the outcome of the Schism storyline didn’t quite deliver that. Coming out of AvX, I’m hoping this title can establish itself as the central X-title.So far, it looks like that might be the case, but with a hoard of other X-books still hanging around it is hard to tell right now.

Thor: God of Thunder #1

Being from Alabama, I love Jason Aaron. He’s the best thing to come out of Jasper since, well, probably ever. If I am skeptical of Bendis simply because he is Bendis, I’m just the opposite when it comes to Aaron.

That being said, Thor is a weird fit for Aaron’s writing style. He tends to write characters a little campier than most, and I was a bit afraid that his Thor would come off as too over the top as a result. Boy, was I wrong.

Thor: God of Thunder #1
Property of Marvel Comics

Thor: God of Thunder carves out a whole different niche for Thor as a character. The God Butcher storyline alone takes us far away from the goings-on of the Marvel Universe proper, and this is a good thing. Aaron makes it clear from the opening page that this story is about all things mythological and otherworldly.

It has been known for a while that God of Thunder would look at Thor in the past as a young god, in the present as a major god, and in the future as the rule of Asgard. That being said, I was still surprised at how these different timelines are handled. Thor is in very different places in each age, but facing the same problem of gods being mysteriously slaughtered. However, the scale of this problem is obviously growing throughout time, from a minor background mystery early on to an apocalyptic level catastrophe near the end.

The timeline switches serves a very important purpose in this book. It shows how relative the idea of time is when a character is immortal. The God Butcher has been killing gods for millenia, but the incidents in the first issue don’t feel that far apart chronologically. This makes it clear that Thor’s place in the universe is unique compared to his fellow Avengers. In the grand scheme of things,The Avengers’ problems are a blip in time for Thor, while problems like the God Butcher are lifelong issues in a very real sense. The affairs of gods are indeed very different than those of mere mortals, and Aaron does an excellent job of establishing this.

It helps that the art in this book screams epic. Esad Ribic’s and Dean White’s pencils and colors fit with the mythical feel of the book, so much so that it doesn’t feel quite like a comic book. This might not work that well for some, but it is incredibly appealing to someone like me, who is interested in what art does thematically to advance the story.

I’m really excited about this book for two reasons. First, I think Aaron is writing a different Thor story than we have ever seen, and brings him back to his roots as a god of legend. Second, this book can be read without ever thinking about the rest of the Marvel universe. I love not having to worry about finding tie-ins to a story, and this book fits that bill perfectly. If you are interested in reading comics without getting tied down to a massive number of titles, Thor: God of Thunder is a book for you.

  1. raheadley says:

    Good write up on the X-Men. I may have to check that one out. I’m a fan of the original Beast and Iceman.

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