Comic Picks By The Glick

Ultimate Comics Thor

September 14, 2012

Much like “Ultimate Comics Hawkeye” I suspect that this mini-series owes its existence to a desire to get as much product featuring the title character out into the marketplace in time to tie in to his movie.  While this is also written by Jonathan Hickman, it’s not part of a larger storyline and does a good job of standing by itself.  That is, if you’ve read at least the Millar/Hitch run on “The Ultimates,” because this is truly an origin story for the character that fits snugly within the continuity established there.

One thing that confused me right off the bat is the timeframe for the “now” sequences of the story.  I assumed those initially took place concurrently with the other “Ultimate” comics being published at the time, but this actually takes place prior to the first volume of “The Ultimates.”  Which is why we begin with Thor under lock and key by the European Union Super Soldier Initiative after they’re concerned that their most promising soldier is now certifiable.  He thinks he’s the Norse god of thunder after all.  Enter mental health and linguistics professional Dr. Donald Blake to sort this all out.

While we know that Thor isn’t crazy, the story gets around the inevitability of that particular thread by a series of extended flashbacks to his younger days in Asgard.  The times when he, Balder and Loki were an unbreakable trio getting into all kinds of violent mischief.  I know I’m stating the obvious when I say that it doesn’t last and Loki’s mischief takes a turn for the murderous and villainous, things get much worse when Baron Zemo unlocks the powers of the Norn Stones, teams up with the frost giants and brings Ragnarok to Asgard in WWII.

Hickman has a good handle on the characters, and even if there’s a great deal about the story that is more familiar than it should be, there are also some pleasant surprises along the way.  You’ve got the secret identities of two new additions to the Ultimate Universe which make a good deal of sense in the context of the story and tie into it in fairly novel ways.  The strong ties to the Millar/Hitch run come at the end of the story and it’s fun to see certain events from Thor’s perspective as well as find out just how Loki made it to our world with his powers fully intact.

Throw in Carlos Pacheco’s detailed and action-packed art and you’ve got yourself a good Thor story that longtime readers of the Ultimate Universe like myself can appreciate.  It’s not an essential read by any means, and between reading this and “Ultimate Comics Ultimates” I now have the urge to read Jeph Loeb and Frank Cho’s reputedly awful “Ultimate Comics New Ultimates:  Thor Reborn” to get the missing chapter in the character’s story here.  That’s not a good thing.  Even so, Hickman’s tenure with the character has been good enough that I wish he’d been able to do more with him.  We’ll see how he wraps it up in “Ultimate Comics Ultimates vol. 2”

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