Thor: The Truth of History

The current incarnation of the Thor book, by J Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel, can’t be faulted in terms of vision. JMS has his notion of how Thor should be treated in the 21st century, and Coipel has diverged from the Marvel bible to make the god of thunder look more Scandinavian than previously. And it’s well crafted stuff . . .

. . . but apart from the post-Civil War issue that had Thor put Iron Man in his place, it hasn’t hooked me. It intrigues, but it doesn’t excite. The approach is all thought, little heart. Having inherited his father’s role as All-father (God-Father?), Thor is full of dignity and wisdom and far from the sparky, impulsive hero I loved to spend time with. Less Thor the God of Thunder than Thor the God of Ponder.

But now, for one week only, the Thor I love is back. Courtesy of writer/penciller Alan Davis, inker Mark Farmer and their creative colleagues, we get old school Asgardian drama by the bucketload. Sidestepping current continuity, The Truth of History is set a few thousand years ago, as Thor and the Warriors Three visit ancient Egypt, where the gods of Heliopolis rule. They wind up there via typical Volstagg silliness after an encounter with Nedra, Queen of Jotunheim, who’s brimming with mischief and resplendent in typically towering Kirby goddess headgear.

Davis writes a wonderfully wise and witty Thor tale, giving us a noble, kind warrior god, while his take on the Warriors Three is spot on, with Fandral dashing, Hogun grim and Volstagg voluminous in body and personality. We also get a few brief moments with Sif and Balder, and it’s so good to see the old gang together that it’s a shame they never made the jaunt to Egypt.

The art is typically gorgeous Davis and Farmer, with just a single off panel (Thor bashes a monster and look like he’s been on the gingold). Otherwise it’s handsome and horrific figures in slickly choreographed action sequences to match the best of old school Marvel.

Actually, forget ‘old-school’- this is timeless stuff, nothing more than plain old good comics. It may have been published with little fanfare, but The Truth of History is my favourite Thor story for years. If JMS and Coipel would be less shy of incorporating Silver Age Marvel attitudes and dynamism into their story we might see the magic their run has been missing.

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