Thors by Jason Aaron & Chris Sprouse Review

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<i>Thors</i> by Jason Aaron & Chris Sprouse Review

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Chris Sprouse
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: June 17, 2015

In 2013, Jason Aaron wrote the seminal “Godbomb,” his second arc on Thor: God of Thunder with artists Esad Ribic and Butch Guice, which teamed up three Odinsons from different time periods. In the Chris Spouse-illustrated Thors, one of the most hyped corollaries of Marvel’s history-rewriting Secret Wars event, we’re given a Thor team-up that packs twice as many Mjolnir-wielders, and it turns out that the best team-up partner Thor has is… well, Thor.

Thors follows Thorlief (the Ultimate Thor) and his partner Beta Ray Thor—two members of the law-enforcing Thor Corps—as they’re given a high-profile murder case with seemingly no connective threads. While on the job, Thor and Ray interact with a number of other Thors, including Storm (formerly of the X-Men), Throg the Frog Thor and Groot-Thor. Aaron and Sprouse aren’t overthinking the premise, or even attempting to make this miniseries unnecessarily serious. Yes, it is a police procedural. Yes, there are murders. But Thors is also a book that features a bunch of norse god variants boasting about who can beat up the most Hulks, and then they get drunk and arm wrestle. Thors is a book where the main character is notoriously egotistical, and now there are hundreds of iterations of him who are all cops; there are so many opportunities to fall into genre stereotypes, yet this debut chapter never does. Instead, it revels in the inherent insanity of the idea behind it, a take-down of the macho archetype that Thor represents alongside a disassembling of the role of superheroes akin to Alan Moore and Gene Ha’s similar superhero detective dissection, Top 10.

Interestingly, Jonathan Hickman writes the Thor Corps as a fairly serious entity in the main Secrets Wars storyline, perhaps even one to fear, but Thors doesn’t take that approach at all. Though this introduction leans on the humor presented by the overall premise, yet it still enhances the overall mythology set up in the main event. Since the members of the Thor Corps are the only ones that truly interact with all the various kingdoms of Battleworld—a splintered collection of geographies representing various universes and events in Marvel history—this book fleshes out some of the connections between disparate elements of this new status quo. The title in turn augments what’s happening in Secret Wars, and not only is Thors the first book to accomplish this, but it does so while maintaining its identity as a singular, separate entity, a precarious balance to maintain.

Thors Art by Chris Sprouse

As a creative team, Aaron and Sprouse make the perfect pairing for the book. The pair packs Thors full of gags both subtle and overt, some mixed into dialogue and others present in illustration. The title is no exception to displaying the talents of Sprouse, whose work has graced such works as Tom Strong and Multiversity. The penciller balances bombastic action sequences with vibrant characters fighting over background jokes, making the book worth multiple reads. Aaron has also benefitted in the past from writing self-aware superhero comics (Astonishing Wolverine and Spider-Man), and Thors shows off Aaron’s versatility working on both gritty crime and parody humor. With random esoteric references in one scene and a nod to Aaron’s Original Sin event (itself a murder mystery), this comic offer up a humorous love letter to the Marvel Universe and all its inherent weirdness.

Granted, the book could’ve benefitted from connecting Aaron’s femme Thor (singular) series that currently stars Jane Foster as the Thunder God(dess), which is the one disappointing element of the book. Aaron’s work on the series reinvigorated the cast and concept of Thor; its a shame that she’s removed fro the spotlight. Yet there seems to be a very specific reason for this, and it’s one that could ultimately result in Aaron telling an alternate take on a story Aaron was already telling—an interesting prospect.

Thors Art by Chris Sprouse

Suffice to say, as a book that could be viewed as “just” a Secret Wars tie-in, Thors celebrates the vast calamity of characters and continuity available in the Marvel Universe now in one place, Aaron and Sprouse have put out arguably the most entertaining spin-off from Marvel’s mega-event so far.