Sunday, 22 November 2015

Thor Vol 2: Who Holds the Hammer? by Jason Aaron

Thor Vol 2: Who Holds the Hammer? is the second volume of collected issues in the pre-Secret Wars Thor run. The direct sequel to Thor: The Goddess of Thunder, more or less. This is another painfully volume padded out with extra material because of the Secret Wars deadline. It contains issues 6 to 8 of the comic sandwiched between the Thor Annual 2015 and a somewhat spoilerily titled What If? comic from 1978.

Who is Thor? That's the question on everyone's lips. Most especially Prince Odinson of Asgard. This volume, he starts to narrow down the list of suspects. Meanwhile, tensions continue to flare between the All-Mother and All-Father, Malekith forges his most dangerous pact yet, and Thor prepares to face her greatest challenge!

The Thor Annual issue contained three short stories by different creators. The first is set in the far future (with a disappointingly male Thor) and is an amusing enough story, also featuring super-old-Thor's granddaughters. The second story is the best and the main reason I was at all interested in the annual. Noelle Stevenson (from Nimona and Lumberjanes) tells a story of a couple of Odinson's friends trying to trick the new Thor into proving she isn't up to the job. Obviously, they fail spectacularly. The last story was pretty meh. It involved the former Thor, drinking and Loki's shenanigans. The art was also a bit too exaggerated for my liking.

The three issues of actual on-going Thor story were good, albeit brief. The biggest highlight was the reveal of new Thor's identity at the end. The ongoing search by Odinson for the new Thor could have gotten a bit old, but had a really fun resolution when he realised what he'd actually done was make a list of awesome Marvel Universe women. Cue cameos from all my favourite characters. And, of course, it more or less tied off a story arc, although not that finally. Definitely worth a read to follow the continuing story of Thor, although the bad guys aren't really my favourite (dark elves don't especially interest me).

And finally we have the 1978 What If? #10. I wish someone had told old school comics creators about showing instead of telling. They are so tedious to read with their unnecessary thought-bubble narration of what's drawn in the freaking panel. Sigh. I mean the old school art and unsubtle colours are one thing, but it's the text that really makes it unpleasant to read. It's also several (? or at least one) retcons old, so the story being rewritten bears no resemblance to the back story of modern day Thor (especially not if your starting reference point is the movies). Not to mention, the full title of this issue and its inclusion in this volume is a freaking spoiler, which I do not approve of. I understand why they wanted to pad out this volume and I approve of them doing so, but that doesn't mean I'm going to suddenly start enjoying old comics.

I'm not sure whether or how to recommend this volume. I definitely wouldn't suggest buying the hard cover (which is the only US paper edition that currently exists). The Annual wasn't bad, though, for two out of three stories, so if you're into Thor, it's one to consider. I am tempted to suggest just buying the individual issues, though, because I'm pretty sure three issues are going to be cheaper the whole volume, and really, they're the important part. I don't regret buying Who Holds the Hammer?, but if you're into digital comics and don't have strong feelings about how things look on your physical book shelves, just get the main 3 issues and maybe the annual.

4 / 5 stars

First published: July 2015, Marvel (my edition UK paperback since the US editions are only hardcover so far)
Series: Thor 2014 Vol 2 of 2 (to be followed by Mighty Thor 2015) 
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Forbidden Planet, London

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