Before anything else, this is a beautiful book. Esad Ribic is allowed to create a world located somewhere between a Frank Frazetta oil painting and a Prince Valiant daily comic, and it is the princely setting a character like Thor deserves. I say allowed with intent, as comics from the Big Two have variations on a house style and few books break that mold. With Thor: God of Thunder — The God Butcher, Aaron and Ribic seem to have had almost no limit placed on what they’re allowed to depict and how they do it.
The comic is drawn in lavish detail. From the form of our Thunder God down to his shading, there are confident lines of perfected proportions to small cross-hatching between muscles. The shading work even carries over into the coloring, giving all layers of the art a unified feel. And it’s not a style so alien that Ribic can’t include other Avengers. Iron Man sits happily on the page with Thor, but it is definitely a presentation that was designed from the ground up to depict our mythic Norseman’s world.
Jason Aaron didn’t shy away from what the contents of a god’s story could be, either. This first arc of the re-launched Thor: God of Thunder is called “The God Butcher”. Thor discovers that gods are being annihilated and needs to track down the crazed felon. It’s straightforward enough until you realize this is a story being told from every facet of Thor’s timeline. We see as Thor pursues this perpetrator across millennia. Aaron creates a story so big that the reader can begin to appreciate what kind of scope the story about a god should have. We so often forget Thor’s magnitude when he’s side-by-side with the Avengers. While what he is doing is miraculous, it’s not policing uncharted galaxies in space searching for an assassin. There is nothing about Thor’s task that is small: traveling space, fighting monsters, meeting with other world’s pantheons. Aaron shows us what the responsibility of being a god means.
For this fantastic story, it’s perfect that Aaron was teamed with an artist like Ribic. Sometimes it can become a game for the reader to learn what an artist isn’t great at. Animals, perspective, children—there’s always a range of options. There is no stopping Ribic. If you need battles on top of Pegasi, he’s your man. If you need a gorgeous Asgard in the background, just ask him. The colorists, Dean White and Ive Svorcina do a great job of echoing a painterly style, while still being grounded enough that it doesn’t over present. Everything looks appropriate to a house comic, just a more ornate and classic presentation of one.
Hopefully, this is a partnership that will continue throughout the run of Thor: God of Thunder. Aaron and Ribic did an amazing job with this relaunch. They tell a disconcerting and compelling story with a brand new villain. It’s never an envious task, restarting a beloved character, but Thor: God of Thunder — The God Butcher performs admirably. There is nothing stopping an interested newcomer or a veteran comic reader from enjoying this title.
Thor: God of Thunder, vol. 1 — The God Butcher
by Jason Aaron
Art by Esad Ribic
Publisher Age Rating: T+ (12+)