Thor Annual #1 is made up of three stories set in Thor’s past/present/future, but only one of them is really worth taking a look at.
THOR ANNUAL #1
Writers: Jason Aaron, Noelle Stevenson and CM Punk
Artists: Timothy Truman, Marguerite Sauvage and Rob Guillory
Colourist: Frank Martin
Letterers: Joe Sabino
Editor: Wil Moss and Jon Moisan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
ONE OUT OF THREE IS GOOD
Thor Annual #1 is a celebration of the latest Thor storyline that has come to be colloquially known as Lady Thor. Regular Thor scribe Jason Aaron is joined by Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes), and CM Punk (professional wrestler). Somewhat unsurprisingly, Aaron’s story stands above the rest as a truly beautiful and celebratory tale of the titular character where Stevenson’s story feels more like a Lumberjanes story recast – and, unfortunately, this really doesn’t work – and CM Punk’s story is nothing short of childish and uninspired.
The opening tale in Thor Annual #1 is Aaron’s. It tells the tale of Thor’s future when he ascends to the rank of King Thor and steps into Odin’s role as the All-Father. Nearly all of the nine realms are dying in this far flung future, but luckily for Asgard – and for King Thor – Aaron brings the Girls of Thunder into the narrative. Frigg, Atli and Ellisiv as Thor’s granddaughters with whom he shares a strong emotional bond; bringing three strong female characters into the Thor Annual #1 as triplicate protagonists speaks to the deft hand with which Aaron handles the female lead of the ongoing Thor series and perpetuates the idea that strength may lie with any gender.
By the end of Aaron’s opening story in Thor Annual #1 the seeds of life have been replanted in King Thor’s Garden – a clever name for which of the nine realms are protected most in the Thunder God’s heart. Aaron marries many ancient mythologies into this story of creation that readers will recognize from everything from Norse mythology to Christian Biblical creation. He demonstrates a respect for the mythological roots the Thor comic books draw inspiration from, while balancing out a feminist line that has been running through this series’ latest arc.
When Noelle Stevenson takes over in Thor Annual #1 she tells a cute story. The present day female Thor goes on a series of side quests with the warriors three in order to prove herself worthy of the name. However, the sweet, light tone that Stevenson is known to bring to her work and shines so brightly in Lumberjanes really falls short in the pages of Thor Annual #1.
Lady Sif is noticeably absent so that Stevenson can have lady Thor be the most unique thing on the page and this, unfortunately, leaves our protagonist as something of a Mary Sue. Despite the fact that she claims to be undergoing these tasks levied at her by the men of Asgard simply so she can go on a grand adventure undercuts any stakes that this arc might have had in Thor Annual #1 and relegates it to falling short, leaving readers with a somewhat empty, unfulfilled feeling.
As for the final story in Thor Annual #1 written by CM Punk, it is obvious from the beginning that the stunt writer has little to no experience in the field of storytelling. Punk takes the young Thor and spends his story having the God of Thunder drink friends and enemies alike under the table before vomiting. It’s a childish – ultimately insulting – story that leaves Thor Annual #1 to end with a whimper in place of a roar.
THREE GREAT ARTISTS
Where the writing in Thor Annual #1 is somewhat all over the place the three artists on the book are solid. Timothy Truman opens the issue pencilling Jason Aaron’s story of King Thor’s bleak future. His linework is astonishingly beautiful and in every way suited for tackling a tale on this scale with themes like world building, grief and, in the end, hope.
Under Truman’s hand King Thor is strong and fragile in his old age and stands in contrast to his three granddaughter Frigg, Atli and Ellisiv who each look like they could give the current feminine Thor a run for her money. He tackles the scope of planets and space with great aplomb throughout Thor Annual #1 and proves that he should always be drawing stories in the cosmic realm.
For her work on Stevenson’s story in Thor Annual #1 Marguerite Sauvage matches the tone. Her linework is light and cute. The female Thor has a softness to her that we’ve not seen in her appearances thus far. Sauvage makes everyone on panel very sweet and certainly less threatening than they appear in other Thor stories. Her best work are the panels lady Thor shares with the Queen of the Light Elves.
Chew artist Rob Guillory is left to make something out of CM Punk’s final tale in Thor Annual #1 and while he doesn’t have much to work with the art is solid. Guillory’s cartoonish style is squarely on display in his panels and help to bolster some of the story’s more foolish moments. Everything from Guillory’s angles to over expressive faces seem to be making the case that he ought to be designing a young Thor cartoon for Marvel.
BOTTOM LINE: A MIXED BAG
Thor Annual #1 almost fulfils the edict of an annual: to celebrate the character and tell some stories that would never make it into the regular book. If you are a Thor fan it’s worth picking up for the first story and flipping through the latter two to look at the cool art.
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