Published on January 4th, 2020 | by Chrys Terlizzi
Thor #1 Review
Summary: The premiere issue for Cates and Klein’s Thor proves it can be a worthy successor to Jason Aaron’s epic run.
From the very first page, it is clear that Donny Cates loves all things Thor; he is the perfect successor for this sacred Marvel title. His opening narration, which is set “far beyond the fields we know” reads “And lo, in the darkness there was thunder.” It’s an easy example of Cates’ mastery of the regal, lofty language needed to tell a great Thor story. I mean, it’s essentially the Thor version of “Once upon a time…”
From there, Cates does a fantastic job of exploring the new status quo Thor’s been dealt, as the weary King of the newly peaceful ten realms. Cates shines in giving us an Asgard and Thor that appears to be an organic continuation of that which came before. The issue’s narration and Thor’s conversations with Sif and Loki perfectly present the reader with a newly anointed and unsure allfather Thor. He is grappling with the weight of no longer being just the heroic warrior we’ve grown to love, but also a king. It’s a great choice to focus on this aspect of the character early, as it purposefully chooses to honor his hard-earned evolution over the years. It’s not until midway through the issue and Galactus’ untimely crash landing in Asgard that the reader begins to see how this creative team is going to tell their unique Thor story.
The latter half of the issue explores the cosmic side of Thor, and the issue begins to read like an event comic (in the best way possible). Cates manages to excellently dovetail his work on the cosmic end of the Marvel publishing line with the epic plot as Thor gathers Galactus’ heralds and the issue gives Cates-created and influenced characters like Cosmic Ghost Rider and the Silver (or is it Black now?) Surfer the spotlight. The thrust of the ensuing conflict, the Jack Kirby-esque idea of the Black Winter, is an inspired one. It is a logical progression of the concept of Galactus – where he devours worlds, the Black Winter consumes realities, and it is responsible for the end of Galactus’ original universe. Finally, I’d be remiss to ignore Thor’s transformation into the Herald of Thunder at the end of the issue – it’s an extremely intriguing new step in Thor’s journey and it will be fun to see how Cates balances this new role with Thor’s role as king. I personally can’t wait to see what comes next.
Quite frankly, the entire art team does an incredible job throughout this issue. In much the same way as Donny Cates, it is clear from the very first page that Nic Klein and Matthew Wilson are the perfect team for this comic. The opening splash of Mjolnir soaring through the cosmos, trailed by lightning and the rainbow hues of the Bifrost, looks like it’s ready to jump right out of the page.
From there, Klein and Wilson do an excellent job in conveying mood throughout the comic. Every panel featuring Thor (other than the closing splash page which we’ll get to in a minute), manages to show the reader the immense weight that the titular character is carrying in his new role as king. Thor spends most of the issue looking down at the ground, lamenting the burden of responsibility he now holds. In this fashion, it’s Klein’s use of body language that tells the reader as much about Thor’s state of mind as Cates’ script does. Further still, Klein makes great use of Mjolnir and the metaphor of worthiness its weight represents. The thud the hammer makes as it slams into Thor’s hand or the resounding thump of it dropping to the throne room floor are felt by the reader through a combination of the artwork and sound effects. After the fall of Galactus, the “mourning rain of Asgard” makes for a great art device in conveying both the somber and foreboding mood the plot has taken on – plus it looks really cool.
Speaking of looking really cool, there are a few images in this issue which stick with the reader long after they’ve closed the book. Just to name a few: a one-armed and frost-bitten Galactus crashes through the gathered masses of Asgard, a wraithlike Silver Surfer phases though the walls of the castle with ominous words, and finally, Thor is reborn on the final page of the issue in all his cosmic glory as the Herald of Thunder. Thor’s new costume design is ridiculous in all the best ways. Between the long mane of blonde hair, the star-studded garb, and the hammer of pure lightning, Thor is now outfitted to match the insane mission he’s ready to take on and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
Jason Aaron left some huge shoes to fill when he concluded his 7+ years on the title, but Cates and Klein aptly continue that tale in this issue while still managing to flip the story on its head and give the reader a wholly new take on the God of Thunder by its end. Klein proves to be an expert conveying mood with his pencils, while Cates’ clear affinity for Thor shines through wonderfully.
Score: 5/5 stars
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson
Letterer & Designer: Joe Sabino
Cover Artists: Olivier Coipel & Laura Martin