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Thor: God of Thunder #1
Jason Aaron is known for having comics that really go to the edge of sanity in the Marvel universe. He's taken his mad approach to Ghost Rider, The Punisher, and the Hulk. Now, as a part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch, he's gone to Thor. What I like about Aaron, besides being a native Alabamian and fellow Crimson Tide fan, is that all of his comics have clear inspirations and are also very different from one another.
In his new series, Thor: God of Thunder, Aaron takes a very interesting turn for the story setting it in both the past, present and future. This is a very risky approach because if any one part of the story gets more attention than it needs, it could throw off the flow of the entire comic. What we get is clearly dispersed at an even pace with just enough of the 'Young' and 'Old' Thor to keep things interesting (though I want an all Old King Thor comic if you're reading this Jason). Aaron has taken to heart the ideals of having a character that is a God and really applied that to the book, something we haven't seen much out of Thor in a while.
Esad Ribic's artwork for the comic is quite good with only a few problems. He draws great splash pages and large form figures, but the details in his smaller panels lack the same depth. The atmosphere created in the comic is unlike anything else you'll read at Marvel, but given that it takes place in different time frames and on different planets, it would stick out if it looked like all the other 'Run through New York City' Marvel comics.
I was surprised to find a lot of restraint in this debut issue. There are really good ideas that Aaron and Ribic execute perfectly with little flack. Thor: God of Thunder is doing what every Marvel NOW! book should and that's redefine the character while staying true to what people love about them. This is already one of my favorites from the relaunch.
Rating: 9 / 10
Fantastic Four #1
Fantastic Four was always one of those comics that I thought I should respect simply for what it was, but I could never get in to the series. It's been rebooted and relaunched numerous times and after the last relaunch it just became a chore to follow. What caused the previous series of Fantastic Four to be so muddled and confusing was the lack of focus which appears to be back now that writer Matt Fraction is heading up the series.
If you're not aware, the Fantastic Four now have a spinoff group called 'The Future Foundation,' which are the next generation of bright minds whom they're shepherding to be the best they can be. This didn't help the previous series in terms of easy following, but now Fraction has taken the focus back to the original four and their children. The other kids still make appearances, but they're now in the back seat. Fraction has a good mind for writing each of these characters. Their dynamics are of course unchanged, yet he's brought a fresh voice to them that has long been gone. Where this comic goes wrong is in the pacing. It jumps from place to place and situation to situation with only the slimmest of transitions.
Mark Bagley draws the new series and he's at his peek when the Four are in great peril which, lucky for him, happens quite a bit. While the Fantastic Four only set the standard for comic book action when they first appeared, no one is looking at this comic to be an action movie story board. What is very striking about the art is how it manages to stay interesting. While the super powered characters are doing mundane things at times it always looks great.
What Fraction has crafted here really feels like a family though. Even if this comic is connected to the upcoming FF relaunch, it doesn't feel like half of a story. Big fans of the series will really enjoy this, but newcomers might leave a little more to be desired. Don't expect anything from this that the Fantastic Four has never been, because it's not a drastic change to anything.
Rating: 7 / 10
Don't forget to go to page 2 for All New X-Men and X-Men Legacy...