By: Paul Jenkins (writer), Pascal Alixe (artist), Sotocolor (colorist), Charlie Beckerman (editor)

The Story: Thor fulfills a promise to reconcile the existence of the Viking gods to a faith-stricken Catholic priest.

What’s Good: I had checked out this issue totally on a lark, and was blown away by the story. It’s been a while since I’ve led the “what’s good” part of a review with the writer, but Paul Jenkins delivered a perfectly written story with cosmic and personal depth. What made it perfect for me? First of all, this story gets to what Thor is about: a major god from a pagan pantheon intervening directly in a Judeo-Christian-Muslim, largely secularized world. Thor’s 50-year run in comics has required readers to deliberately suppress or ignore questions about which religion is true. Doctor Strange had much the same problem, and Marvel largely sorted these out in Marvel Premiere in the early 1970s. Jenkins didn’t duck this problem; he made it the core of his story and he pulled it off without being trite, facile or dishonest.

Artwise, Pascal Alixe, ably assisted with some great color effects, pressed all the right buttons for me. The first page was actually arresting, as we are treated in the first panel, to a waist-height view, then a look up at a door frame before the figure on the bed finally shows us why we’re seeing things this way. Someone is at bed-level, waiting for death. Then, the camera angle shifts to looking down on him, signaling a new viewpoint coming, Thor’s. It’s cleverly and subtly done. I loved how Alixe portrayed the priest, both now and four years ago, and Thor looked solid, although is it me, or is he starting to have a bit of a Justin Bieber thing going on with his hair? Sotocolor gave the whole visual a watery feel which brought more poignacy to the series of panels closing in on Thor as the climax to the story hit.

What’s Not So Good: This story was pretty close to flawless and beautifully drawn. I couldn’t find anything to complain about.

Conclusion: One of the smartest comics I’ve read in a while, one with emotional and intellectual heft, while staying true to the superhero convention. I’m totally checking in for issue four and will hunt out issues one and two.

Grade: A

-DS Arsenault

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