One of my favorite comics I am currently reading is Thor: For Asgard, written by Robert Rodi and lavishly illustrated by Simone Bianchi. This six issue mini-series is part of the Marvel Knights imprint (Most Marvel Knights titles are meant for ages 15 and up and usually deal with more mature themes). Thor: For Asgard deals with a status quo much grimmer than is usual for Thor and his cast: Odin has departed Asgard, Thor cannot lift his mighty hammer Mjolnir and someone is causing havoc from within the city of the gods.
Simone Bianchi’s intricately operatic designs give the thunder god a heavy metal/science fiction makeover which seems appropriate. For instance, check out Thor’s new skull belt, fur-trimmed cape and the extra studs that adorn his entire wardrobe. Bianchi’s mastery of anatomy combined with a grand sense of storytelling makes each page a rich reading experience. I find myself staring at each layout for several minutes before turning the page. Issue #3 recently came out and I have reread it three times.
Robert Rodi has infused so much pathos into this storyline that it is hard to imagine how Thor will ever find a way to triumph. It certainly seems that the fates are against our hero (especially since he seems to have lost some of his heroic bluster). This Thor is a thinking man’s Thor, tortured by the overarching responsibilities he has take on with his father’s absence. This situation brings to mind these oft-quoted lines from Henry the Fourth by King Henry:
Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,
And in the calmest and most stillest night,
With all appliances and means to boot,
Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
Henry the Fourth, Part 2 Act 3, scene 1, 26-3
Most of the traditional Marvel Comics/Norse mythology characters star in this series. Heimdall, the Valkyries, Sif, Baldur, Odin and many more larger than life characters are depicted as noble, proud, conflicted beings. The grim troubles plaguing Asgard diminishes their godlike austere veneer, bringing out the strongest aspects of each of their personalities.
Thor: For Asgard is epic storytelling at its finest. Rodi and Bianchi are bringing their best talents to the table and their hard work shows. There is a raw sense of emotion flowing from the character’s dialogue to their depiction. The stakes are high and mounting with every issue. I highly recommend this mini-series.