Four Letter Nerd

Tag - Thor

4LN Book Review – Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman

Norse Mythology has been at the top of my “books-I-can’t-wait-to-read” list since it was first announced.  If you’ve been reading 4LN for a while, you are probably familiar with my love of The Lord of the Rings and Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder, so a book that dives into the lore that inspired Tolkien and Stan Lee, plus the fact that it is written by the great Neil Gaiman is definitely a must read.

Here’s a summary of the book from the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company:

Introducing an instant classic—master storyteller Neil Gaiman presents a dazzling version of the great Norse myths.

Neil Gaiman has long been inspired by ancient mythology in creating the fantastical realms of his fiction. Now he turns his attention back to the source, presenting a bravura rendition of the great northern tales.

In Norse Mythology, Gaiman stays true to the myths in envisioning the major Norse pantheon: Odin, the highest of the high, wise, daring, and cunning; Thor, Odin’s son, incredibly strong yet not the wisest of gods; and Loki—son of a giant—blood brother to Odin and a trickster and unsurpassable manipulator.Gaiman fashions these primeval stories into a novelistic arc that begins with the genesis of the legendary nine worlds and delves into the exploits of deities, dwarfs, and giants. Once, when Thor’s hammer is stolen, Thor must disguise himself as a woman—difficult with his beard and huge appetite—to steal it back. More poignant is the tale in which the blood of Kvasir—the most sagacious of gods—is turned into a mead that infuses drinkers with poetry. The work culminates in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods and rebirth of a new time and people.

Through Gaiman’s deft and witty prose emerge these gods with their fiercely competitive natures, their susceptibility to being duped and to duping others, and their tendency to let passion ignite their actions, making these long-ago myths breathe pungent life again.

 

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Norse Mythology is a fresh take on Norse myth pulled from various sources (mainly the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, which date back over 900 years), told using modern language.  Gaiman then takes these myths and forms a, more or less, cohesive journey from the beginning to end.  Throughout the different tales we learn what Odin sacrificed for wisdom, how Loki’s mischievousness led to the creation of Thor’s hammer Mjölnir by the Dwarves, and how the children of Loki play a major role in Ragnarok, which is both the end and the beginning of the gods.  Oh, and we also learn why Loki tied his genitals to the beard of an angry goat – a story that my fellow 4LN writer Bill is quite fond of, for whatever reason…

 

Since I am a fan of themes, I drank this wine while I read.

Since I am a fan of themes, I drank this wine while I read.

 

Overall, Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is a well written, accessible story the gives the reader some insight into the epic tales of the Norseman. Before reading this book I had at least partial knowledge of several of the tales, mainly from Rick Riordan’s Magnus Chase series (which is outstanding), but reading several of the main stories in what is mostly a single narrative is a great way to not only learn about Norse myth, but enjoy a great book at the same time.  It’s an easy and informative read that is well worth the price of admission.  I grant Norse Mythology 5 out of 5 Golden Apples of Idunn.  Make sure to head to your local bookstore to pick it up when it hits shelves on February 7, 2017.

4LN Comic Review – The Unworthy Thor #1

Series – The Unworthy Thor
Writer – Jason Aaron
Art – Olivier Coipel, with recap by Russell Dauterman
Color Artist – Matthew Wilson
Publisher – Marvel

Summary from Comixology: “The Odinson’s desperate search to regain his worthiness has taken him out into the cosmos, where he’s learned of the existence of a mysterious other Mjolnir. This weapon of unimaginable power, a relic from a dead universe, is the key to Odinson’s redemption — but some of the greatest villains of the Marvel Universe are now anxious to get their hands on it as well. Can The Odinson reclaim his honor, or will the power of thunder be wielded for evil? The quest for the hammer begins here.”

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So Jason Aaron’s God of Thunder run is one of my all time favorite series.  It not only reawakened my love for comics, but cemented Thor as one of my favorite heroes.  Everything about it – from the villain, to plot, to the art (especially Esad Ribic’s) just clicked on every level.  When my local shop put up their poster for The Unworthy Thor, my interest was piqued.  I mean, Aaron just gets the character of Odinson (the god previously known as Thor), so I was looking forward to another series centering on the Thor from God of Thunder.

Let’s just say that Aaron knocks this book out of the park.  I haven’t been following the most recent Thor series, but I’ve kept up with the overall story.  This book opens with Odinson in a Sisyphean struggle to regain a Mjolnir (I say a Mjolnir because the cover shows the hammer carried by the Ultimates Thor), before going back three months to show us how he got in this predicament.  Both the recap and the main story have that sense of epicness that I felt was lost when the title transitioned away from Odinson.  I am not saying the other Thor was not good, just that Odinson has that extra mythological oomph that really pulls me in.

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Aaron is not the only Thor alum on this creative team either.  Olivier Coipel worked on several issues of J. Michael Straczynski’s run – the one that features Asgardia hovering over Broxton, Oklahoma.  This little geographical tidbit endears me to that title.  Because my family is from Oklahoma, and I love that fact that some podunk town in the Midwest had the gods of Asgard living alongside them.  Seriously though, I was reading that series while visiting my family in Oklahoma and thought about going to Broxton just for fun, but Google Maps showed nothing but farmland.  I didn’t even see a small-town diner.  Aaaanyway, it’s really awesome to have Coipel back in action.  I loved to see his take on this new version of Thor, and it’s fantastic.  There is a lot more realism in the art this time around, which is a necessity with the overall style, and Coipel just nails it.  The fight scenes are visceral, and the moonscape is damn near mythological in scope.

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The art team also includes Russell Dauterman who is responsible for the pages in the preview.  His art is freaking beautiful.  The small battle scene that opens the book is almost worth the price of admission in and of itself.  In a lot of ways, his art reminds me of a less stylized Juan Jose Ryp, and I love his art too.

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When it’s all said and done, The Unworthy Thor #1 is a great start to a new series.  There have only been a few books that immediately grabbed me and had me texting my comic shop owner to add it to my pull before the pages have shut.  Kudos to Aaron and the rest of the creative team for bringing the thunder in Thor’s continued quest to regain his hammer.

 

Music Pairing:
I am not as well versed in music as my fellow 4LNers Stephen and Bill, but I did find listening to Immediate’s Trailerhead:Saga a good fit for the mythic scope of this title.

Why Ant-Man Isn’t Too Much Marvel

Ant-Man has had a lot working against it. There was the trouble with Edgar Wright leaving the production, and then there’s been the prejudice cries of failure coming from comic fans and non-comic fans alike. Much like Scott Lang, and the character of Ant-Man in general, the odds were stacked steeply against it. Granted, the odds were stacked against Guardians of the Galaxy when it was released as well, but that was mostly because more people were less familiar with those characters. People have just seemed to arbitrarily not like Ant-Man, or at best they’ve been mockingly indifferent. Earlier this week one of our own writers, and a good friend of mine, Jeff, posted an article asking the question, “Is Ant-Man Too Much Marvel?

“What the hell bro? Don’t act like you didn’t love me in Anchorman.”

That’s a fair question and I respect Jeff’s thoughts as he was respectful and polite about sharing them, so none of this is intended to be an aggressive rebuttal or argumentative, but merely an explanation as to why I don’t believe Ant-Man is too much Marvel. I will also try to leave my personal feelings to the side and use facts and figures to make my point. To do that though, I have to sink to a level I’m personally not proud of. See, I put pretty much zero stock in what “film critics” say. You know the saying, “Those who can’t do, teach.”? I think that should be changed to, “Those who can’t do, become film critics.” But alas, to make my point I’m going to have to use them. Specifically, I’m going to use the website Rotten Tomatoes, which is arguably the film critic site I like least of all. Rotten Tomatoes assigns films and television shows a number percentage value based on professional critic reviews, as well as one based on viewer reviews. While I disapprove of treating any kind of art like a middle-school social studies test, the mass collective of opinions the site gathers is actually very beneficial to how I intend to convey my point-of-view as it represents the voice of many. I will also be using film budgets and box office revenue numbers to prove the monetary success of the MCU films.

“Someone doubts my longevity? Bring them to me so I can show them how I bought a f**king country with these paychecks.”

Also, just to clarify, we are only talking about the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) films here. Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Avengers, and Guardians of the Galaxy. The X-Men, Fantastic Four, and past Spider-Man films, as well as any Marvel comics films that were produced by any other studio will be excluded as Marvel Studios (owned by Disney) has no control over those films and therefore can’t be held responsible for their contribution to the deluge of comic book movies.

To be honest, this is the only one I still demand an apology for. #SorryNotSorry

In it’s first weekend of release, Ant-Man was the box office winner, bringing in roughly $58 million domestically. It is also currently Certified Fresh at Rotten Tomatoes with a 79% critic rating (the rating number can fluctuate), which is more than Jurassic World or even Avengers: Age of Ultron. Additionally, it has a user score of 92%. AoU has an 87% user rating, and JW has an 82% user rating.

But how about the other MCU films? Does Ant-Man hold it’s weight against them? Well, here’s the break down in the order they were released. All budget and box office facts were taken from Wikipedia. Also, I’m well aware of the rising cost of movie tickets and it’s affects on the income numbers. The purpose of this, though, is more about how much each film made compared to much it cost to make. (Additionally, any film that is certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes will be marked with a “cf”)

MCU                                    Rotten Tomatoes    Rotten Tomatoes   Budget   Box Office
Film                                     Critic Score              User Score                               Haul
Iron Man                             94% (cf)                   91%                            140M     585.2M

The Incredible Hulk          67%                           72%                            150M     263.4M

Iron Man 2                          72% (cf)                    72%                            200M    623.9M

Thor                                      77% (cf)                    76%                            150M     449.3M

Captain America: TFA      79% (cf)                    74%                            140M     370.6M

The Avengers                      92% (cf)                    91%                            220M     1.519Billion

Iron Man 3                          79% (cf)                    79%                            200M     1.215Billion

Thor: The Dark World      66%                           78%                            170M      644.8M

Captain America: TWS     89% (cf)                    92%                           170M       714.8M

Guardians of the Galaxy   91% (cf)                    92%                            195.5M   774.2M

Avengers: Age of Ultron   74% (cf)                    87%                            279.9M   1.394Billion

(I’ve left Ant-Man off the list due to it being so new. However, the film’s budget is estimated at 130M and globally it’s already made almost 115M in less than a week of release. It’s safe to say that it will definitely make it’s budget back, and likely go on to earn double that.)

“This guy!”

Based on the data above (god that felt satisfyingly nerdy to say), we can see that only two MCU films have not been certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, The Incredible Hulk and Thor 2, but it’s important to note, as well, that neither of those films falls into “rotten” territory either. Which is especially interesting to me considering how widely panned The Incredible Hulk is. Even with as much negativity that gets thrown at that film, a grouping of professional critics opinions still don’t earn it a low enough score to be officially be considered an “artistic failure”, and it has a one-number-higher score than Thor: TDW. Admittedly notable is that The Incredible Hulk is also the only one to not make more than double it’s budget at the box office, but it still made over 100M during it’s theatrical run.

Ever since The Avengers, the MCU films have continued to increase their revenue and while it does fluctuate some none of these films can be labeled “financial failures”. Also, with the exception of Iron Man 1, it seems that each sequel has been better well received by the regular viewers than than the film proceeding it. Even Iron Man 3 shows to be more liked than Iron Man 2. One could even argue that Captain America Civil War is doomed to be a critical “meh” since it will be the second film of Phase 3 of the MCU, considering that Incredible Hulk was the second film of Phase 1 and Thor: TDW was the second film of Phase 2. Yet, I’ve not heard anyone express concern that it will fail to meet positive critical or financial standards. (I probably will now though…)

In the interest of fairness, I let Jeff review this article, as he did for me with his, and he made a valid point that, while Ant-Man was the box office winner it’s opening weekend, it was the 2nd lowest opening of any MCU film so far (The Incredible Hulk opened with only 55M). But to it’s credit, it’s budget is also 20M lower than that film’s, and at 130M it’s the MCU film with the lowest budget to date. Jeff also explained that it’s smaller opening, “May be because of all the successful blockbusters of the summer.” “It will be a financial and is a moderate critical success.”, he added. “So I believe Marvel will be good through Civil War next summer and hope we don’t tire during stage 3.”

We’ve got our own Marvel Civil War going on in the 4LN team. I get to be Punisher!

To officially answer the question… No, I don’t think that Ant-Man is too much Marvel. Not yet anyway.

There’s a famous quote that says, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. I believe the numbers speak for themselves and the majority of moviegoers have determined they’re happy with the MCU films that are being put out, and I think they’ll continue to vote with their dollars. Marvel will know when they’ve gone too far because the reviews will be consistently poor and, more importantly, the money will start drying up. Until then, it seems the majority of people still agree that the MCU movies (and  superhero movies in general) are a perfectly acceptable form of entertainment. Whew! I was really worried there for a minute…

Robert Downey Jr rolls eyes - that face you make when Someone says there are too many comic book movies

4LN Comic Review: Thors #1

Series: Thors
Writer: Jason Aaron
Art Team: Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, & Marte Gracia.
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Summary from Comixology:

The Thors of every Domain, together in one book! As cosmic cops! Whenever there’s trouble on Battleworld, the Thors answer the call. But a string of mysterious murders leaves some of them asking questions that may unravel all of reality! A hard-hitting Marvel Comics police drama. With hammers. Lots and lots of hammers.

Thors (2015-) #1

Overview –
I’m a huge fan of Jason Aaron’s work. Ghost Rider, Scalped, Thor: God of Thunder, Southern Bastards, etc. Everyone has their favorite writers, and for me I think I’d say my favorite is a close tie between Aaron and James Robinson. His run on Thor: God of Thunder is one of my favorite comic series of all-time, and the first story arc, The God Butcher, IS my all-time favorite comic story. I even love the dark, brutal, and the lacking-all-redemption Men of Wrath. That’s what makes this next part so difficult to say… I did not enjoy the majority of his most recent run on Thor. Now, before you try to crucify me, please remember that I wrote this piece vehemently defending the decision to make a woman worthy of wielding Mjolnir and becoming Thor, and I remain 100% in support of that direction for the character. My struggle with the (SPOILER ALERT! You know, if you’ve been living in a cave the past couple months) eventually-revealed-as-Jane-Foster Thor series is it bored me. The entire series felt like it was just a trying to make the point that a woman can be Thor and never really got into the meat of what made her worthy in the first place. “I already believe a woman can be Thor so stop trying to convince me and just let her BE THOR!”, I repeated yelled at the glossy, colored picture book each month.

(I feel like “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” did a much better job of shining light on the nature of a strong, fearless female warrior, and if you haven’t yet read that series I strongly recommend you do because it’s fantastic.)

click for super-sized previews of Thors (2015-) #1

That was like, the worst overview I’ve ever written, right? I just complained all the way through it like a douche. (I’m speaking to the four of you who’ve even read any previous comic review I’ve written.)

Well, I say all that to say, I really loved THORS. I was very skeptical and it completely blew away my concerns. I feel like Aaron is at his best when he’s writing something procedural. Also, dark and brutal, but this book doesn’t flow too much into that territory. Essentially what have here is exactly what the summary above says. It’s a “cop drama” but with a whole bunch of Thors as the cops. It’s like a fantasy version of Law & Order, or NYPD Blue. The Thors are investigating a murder but they discover that it’s connected to some other murders, and the reveal at the end will definitely have you scratching your head.

There are so many great Thor characters in the book (Storm Thor, Groot Thor, FROG THOR!) but one of my most favorite things about this particular issue is how Beta Ray Bill takes co-lead position as the God of Thunder’s partner on the force. They make a great team and as a long time fan of the character it’s cool to see him get a small moment in the spotlight right now.

click for super-sized previews of Thors (2015-) #1

The artwork in this book is really great. It’s not complex, or complicated, art, but it’s still very detailed. There’s a 2-page spread near the beginning where Thor and Beta Ray Bill are are smashing up some Ghost Riders and it’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a comic in a long time. Watching them crack into those flaming skulls reminds me of what I first loved comics as a kid. It’s the craziness. The epic fantasy of it all.

click for super-sized previews of Thors (2015-) #1

If you only consider picking up one Secret Wars tie-in book, this is the one I would recommend. Granted, I haven’t read them all yet, so there might be one or two out there that I end up liking better, but for now, I have to say this has been my favorite so far. It’s got drama, humor, intrigue, and action. It’s everything comics are supposed to be.

 

Music Pairing –
I knew I didn’t want to suggest Amon Amarth with this because that’s too obvious at this point (although, I DO LOVE Amon Amarth). I really wanted to pick a different viking metal band and it came down to between Ensiferum and Enslaved, with Ensiferum narrowing to the lead. They just have that fun, pagan metal vibe that makes them a great partner for reading Thor comics.

 

4LN Comic Review: Thor #3

Series: Thor
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Colorist: Matthew Wilson

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Summary from Comixology: “Lifting the enchanted hammer Mjolnir has transformed a mysterious woman into an all-new version of the mighty Thor. But what happens when she’s separated from that hammer? Plus, Frost Giants! ROXXON! And oh yeah, whatever happened to the guy who used to carry that hammer?”

Overview:
When the news of a female Thor broke, I remember everyone being really hesitant and not sure what this book would be like. I for one, was super excited and pumped. Being a bit of an “equalist” I was thrilled that my favorite Marvel character was going to be revamped and seen as a female now ( male Thor is still around just called Odinson now), and with Jason Aaron writing, how could I not be thrilled. I mean, God of Thunder was one of the best comics EVER. But, to be honest, I’m no longer excited for this book, and I owe an apology to fellow writer Cameron for giving him a heard time with not wanting to see Thor change.

Highs:
The art in this book is absolutely amazing. There were many times in this issue that I just looked at the pages and took in the art. Dauterman is really killing it in this book, just ask the Frost Giants. Along with the art, the colorist Matthew Wilson also knows how to really use a lot of bright colors and still draws your eyes to the main image in each panel. Dauterman and Wilson make a great team together on this book. I also really enjoyed the use of both villains, Dario Agger and, one of my favorite Thor villains, Malekith the Accursed.

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Via Comic Vine

 

 Lows:
Jason Aaron is a great writer. I really mean that, just look at: Thor: God of Thunder, Men of Wrath, and Southern Bastards just to name a few. I really like the writer, but I am just not enjoying this story. For me, it was almost a chore to get through this. I was talking with Stephen Andrew and we both feel like we are only reading this to find out who the female Thor is. And, I feel once I find out, I may not have much more interest left in this book. And, that really bums me out…

The Final Say:
If you love Thor, or are just looking for a new series that isn’t to heavy (Avengers) or one that isn’t all comedy and adventure (Rocket Raccoon) then this is a great book for you. It’s got a solid mystery involved and it has it’s funny moments but also it’s serious side. Over all I give this issue 3 out of 5. It wasn’t anything to remember, but it wasn’t anything to forget either, it sits right in the middle of the spectrum. If you rad this book as well, let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

4LN Comic Review – Thor #1 (2014)

Book: Thor #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Color Artist: Matthew Wilson

Summary from Comixology: “Who is the new and mysterious woman wielding the Hammer of Mjolnir? Let she who is worthy possess the power of the Mighty Thunderer! Introducing a Thor that the Marvel Universe has ner’ encountered before. But is this new Thor Asgardian, or from Midgard?”

Overview –
This is a moment many of us have been waiting on for MONTHS. The first issue of the new Thor series starring a female taking up the mantle of “God of Thunder”, or “Goddess”, as it were. When the news was first announced the comic book community went into civil war (I admit, I slung a few handfulls of mud myself, here). If you supported this abomination then you were a traitor, and if you opposed it you were a bigot. I mean, that’s what it seemed like from both sides of the battle anyway. But here’s the thing, the only battles that take place in the comics community should be in the books we read and not between fans. If you aren’t interested in a new approach to a character, fine. You should definitely avoid this book. If you’re excited about this new direction of Thor, please remember that this is just the first issue and there is a lot of story to unfold. You people who get irritatingly excited about things have a tendency to give up on said things real quick if you don’t get what you were expecting.

The Good –
Everything about this drips with Jason Aaron (I mean that figuratively because, well…gross. No offense Jason). The pitiful depression of Thor, the tough love of Odin, the mischievous cruelty of Malekith, and the instances of holy-crap-that-just-happened-and-there’s-NO-coming-back-from-it! (That last one is not exclusive to Aaron, but he’s starting to perfect it.)
I can safely say that I still felt the same feelings of urgency and surprise that I felt when reading any number of issues of Thor: God of Thunder. There were more than a couple moments that took my breath away and made me say “OH MY GOD”.

The art here fits very well. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about a Thor title without Esad Ribic. His artwork was an equal part to Aaron’s writing in making T:GoT so captivating. Russell Dauterman is great though. He captures the world of Thor with more of a modernized take on retro comic art. The perceived “modernization” though, could be due to color artist Matt Wilson’s amazing ability to make the pages burst with beautiful colors. Nothing ever feels too pale or too dark. It’s all just right. This is a great team that has assembled to inject a new energy and excitement into Thor.

The Bad –
I can’t say I found anything bad in this issue. There were a couple of panels where the art didn’t quite land right with me, but a difference in personal taste doesn’t mean the art is flawed in some way. I think I can foresee many T:GoT fans being upset that this issue didn’t answer any questions that were left hanging at the end of that series, but allow me to remind you… This is a new series. Questions aren’t going to be answered in issue #1. Not many anyway. If you can deal with that, you should be fine.

The Final Say –
I’m a big Jason Aaron fan. I love pretty much everything he does, and Thor: God of Thunder was no exception. I was on that series from the very beginning. I added it to my pulbox list as soon as I found out about it and I never missed an issue. I picked up as many variant covers as I could get my hands on, and I even have a Jason Aaron autographed copy of issue #1. I’m gonna be at least a little partial, and maybe even biased, towards the guy’s work. But this issue is really good. I’m giving it a 4 out of 4. Change isn’t always bad. Sometimes it brings us to things we didn’t even know we liked. For instance, now, instead of listening to Amon Amarth or Mastodon when I read Thor comics, I’ll be listening to Witch Mountain and Christian Misstresses. Both of which are doom/southern/sludge metal bands fronted by women. It’s not just man’s game anymore. There’s plenty of ladies out there capable of picking up a microphone or an enchanted sledgehammer and giving dudes a thunderous crack to the jaw. Just let it happen fellas. You might like it…

Thorgate 2014: A Female Thor Is Not Ragnarok

The news came out yesterday, and we posted about it, that the mantle of Thor will be passed to a female character in Marvel comics. Thor will be deemed “unworthy” and will no longer wield Mjolnir. As usual, the internet community lost it’s f—ing mind. Here’s a Tweet from Ryan Penagos, Marvel’s Executive Editorial Director for their Digital Media Department…

 

In the dark depths of our own 4LN Facebook message thread, things got… heated.

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I’ll be honest… THAT was the only non-expletive statement I made.

 

Let me say first, that I understand the hesitation. This is not like Bucky being Captain America, because he never became “Steve Rogers”. And it isn’t like Miles Morales becoming the Ultimate universe Spider-Man, because he never became “Peter Parker”. And it’s not like Carol Danvers becoming Captain Marvel because she’s still Carol Danvers. These individuals define the costumes they wear, the costumes do not define them.

But Thor… Thor IS Thor. I mean, in current continuity anyway (the whole Dr. Donald Blake thing is not really relevant but, granted, it used to be). Taking a character and literally giving his name to someone else, man or woman, is kind of a shock. Its weird enough for characters to change appearance, but for one of them to completely become someone else, well that’s just… crazy. Almost as crazy as a man who flies and shoots lasers out of his eyes, or a woman who can control the weather, or a kid with super strength and the ability to climb walls by sticking to them… it’s ALL crazy. The craziness is why we love these characters. But when you mess with someones favorite crazy, they’ll turn on you faster than a bolt of lightning.

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This is our first look at Unworthy Thor. I speculate that in a future issue of Thor: God of Thunder we’ll find out his father is really Jax from Mortal Kombat.

 

Let’s get one thing out of the way, if you’re not reading the comics, this will have no impact on you. Maybe you just like the movies… never fear, for Chris Hemsworth isn’t going anywhere (not for about 3 more appearances as Thor, anyway). Also, if you haven’t read and/or don’t read any ongoing Marvel comics at all, this doesn’t affect you. Your opinion, while free to exist in this great nation of ours, carries no real value. You’re not really invested in this character so stop pretending like you are. I’ve been reading the current run, Thor: God of Thunder, since issue #1. I try to convince everyone I talk to about comics that the first story arc, Gorr the God Butcher and the Godbomb, is a must read and the best thing I’ve ever read from either of the big 2 publishers. I even have a Jason Aaron autographed copy of Thor: GoT #1, and a few variant cover books. I don’t state all that to brag, I state it to let you know that I’m writing from the place of someone who is very invested in this Thor.

Then there are those of you who have the argument of “They’re just making the character a girl because they can! Thor ain’t no sissy girl!” To that I say, If you prefer your superheroes to have large, throbbing muscles with sweat dripping from them while they fight evil-doers in their form-fitting tights that reveal every bulge… I get it. No woman could ever be good enough to satisfy your desires. I fully support you and will be here to love and accept you when you’re ready to be honest with yourself and others.

“Excuse me… have you seen my hammer?”

 

Coming up later this week we will launch an article celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman. All of us here at 4LN discuss what Batman means to us and we reached out to some of our contributing writers and other people connected to us to chime in with their thoughts as well. When I started organizing that article I had no idea what we were taking on. Everyone involved is so different and each person has a completely different view of The Dark Knight than the person before them. But that philosophy doesn’t stop at Batman. All comic book characters are subject to it. Comics are art, and art instigates different emotions in the people that partake of it. OK, so this isn’t YOUR Thor, but Thor doesn’t belong to you. Ideologically speaking, Thor doesn’t really even belong to Marvel. The character can mean and represent something different to everyone. This female Thor is a new opportunity to expand and explore the artistic nature of Thor and see what kind of emotions it stirs in readers.

This is one of my all-time favorite Thor images, because he looks like a super-powered Zakk Wylde

 

Initially, I was confused when Marvel made this announcement on The View because I thought, “Middle-aged women are the View’s primary audience and they can’t make up more than 0.000003% of comic readers, right?” But then, after talking it out with my wife I stared to have some realizations.

First, this is a brilliant business decision. Do you know how many of those middle-aged women are going to head to a comic shop within the next week asking about the “girl Thor”? OK, probably not a ton, but a lot of them will. And this story-line leading up to the big event hasn’t really even kicked off yet. The previous story-arc just finished so it’ll be a few weeks before the next issue of Thor: God of Thunder even comes out. BUT… if comic-shop guys are smart, they’ll use this as an opportunity to sell books that are already out and sign up new pull-box customers. Don’t be an idiot. Sell comics to people who want them and make money. If you’re one of those “this is a gimmick!” people, you’re damn right it’s a gimmick. Comics live for gimmicks.

This especially applies to those of you who complain that they could have just made a new character. A new character would not bring in the same level of attention and financial gain. It’s art & entertainment, but it’s still about making money in the long run, so don’t be naive. It used to be that depicting women as nothing more than voluptuous sex-objects sold comics, now giving them the power of the gods and a big ass hammer sells comics. Excuse me while I evolve with the rest of society.

Oh yeah, Wonder Woman also once held Mjolnir so figure that out…

 

The other thing I realized about Marvel making this announcement on the View is this… If you’re in a business that has been heavily dominated by men for, literally, it’s entire existence, how do you reach out to a new demographic of readership and let them know that you’re thinking about them and you’re making decisions with their wants in mind? You meet them where they’re at. As I mentioned already, I’m not convinced that there are going to be many regular View… viewers(?)… Watchers(!)… that run to a local comic shop to pick up Thor, but now Marvel has extended that olive branch to show that they recognize women as an important part of the comics community, and not just for My Little Pony and The Vampire Diaries. They’re showing that real equality in comics is not batting an eye when a character changes gender cause we’re not either of us weaker or stronger than the other. (Except when it comes to birthing. Dudes cry when we get a zit popped. Birthing would annihilate us,)

Lastly, I want to share with you an analogy that this new direction of Thor brings to mind. Thor, a man’s man, a mighty god, becomes unworthy of his title and inept in his abilities and therefore his power and status are passed to a new, more worthy, bearer. Someone who just happens to be a woman. Thor is the comic book industry. A medium that has always been controlled by men but has been seeing an increase in female involvement throughout the decades, and we’re now seeing a more intentional integration of women in roles of leadership and creativity. To quote Odin: “You are unworthy of these realms, you’re unworthy of your title, you’re unworthy… of the loved ones you have betrayed! I now take from you your power! In the name of my father and his father before, I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!” The men in charge have not always been responsible or respectful with the success they’ve been given, so it’s time somebody new stepped in to help. It doesn’t mean they’re going away entirely, it just means there’s more room for everyone who brings something of worth to the table.

I understand that many of you probably see this as some Feminist dribble, but I have never called myself a feminist. I just have this ridiculous idea that equality means women and men are capable of doing the same things and therefor deserve an equal amount of recognition and respect. In the comic book community this is often referred to as “heresy”.

Sad Thor accepts the consequences of his actions.

 

Your aversion to a female Thor means less than nothing to me. My 1 year old daughter is named Torunn, after the daughter of Thor, so trust me when I say, Thor is a big part of my life in general. When she grows up I’ll be proud to share with her the adventures of female Thor so she can see how strong and noble women can be depicted in comics. But, you know, go ahead and keep letting your children, your daughters, believe that the only option out there for them to have positive roles moles in comics are women with huge boobs and big asses that stand in the background and cheer on the men. That should work out just fine, and I bet you even won’t have to sell any of your collection for therapy or bail money.

I’ll end with this… I told my 7 year old son about the new female Thor last night. He looked a little confused about it at first and so I asked, “Does that bother you at all?” He replied, “No. I don’t care. Can I have more pizza?” And that folks, is what we should be aiming for… not indifference (as I’ve been gravely guilty of), but more unconcern. If a child can comprehend that a female Thor is no cause for alarm and worry, then how is it that we as grown men and women can’t? The next generation of comic book readers is at a much greater advantage. They accept that characters can evolve. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there are some message boards that are running dangerously low on negative opinions about DC’s coming changes to Batgirl. THIS INJUSTICE WILL NOT GO UN-COMMENTED ON!

Comic Book Review: Thor: God of Thunder #23

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Book: Thor God of Thunder #23
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Rubic
Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
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Summary from Comixology: “Thor’s war to save the earth comes to its epic conclusion. In the far future, King Thor makes a dark decision that may save the day, but at what cost? And in present-day Broxton, Oklahoma, Thor makes a final stand against the forces of ROXXON, but not even a god can save everyone.”

Overview:
Thor God of Thunder is easily one of my favorite books that Marvel is putting out at the moment. Every issue seems to be better and better than the last. Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic are one of the best teams going on Marvel. They remind me a lot of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, just a great team working on a great book. I normally highly dislike time travel, but I love the two different time eras the book takes place in, and I would love a book of just the adventures of Thor’s Granddaughters.

The Good:
As I said earlier, Aaron and Ribic really knock each issue out of the park and are telling a chilling story. The story has great throwbacks to the first story arc, The God Butcher. We are also 23 issues in and it still has the excitement of a new book. Ribic’s art is absolutely beautiful and dark. Even if you don’t like Thor, you should read this book because each issue is truly a work of art. Also, the battles between Galactus, the Trolls, and Roxxon are absolutely amazing.

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Thor’s battle ready granddaughters

The Bad:
As beautiful as the art was in this issue, I had one serious problem with it: it felt messy. There were a couple panels in which I had no clue what was going on. I had to re-read them a couple times to really figure out what was going on. Normally everything in Ribic’s art is very easy to follow and flows very naturally for the eye, but for some reason, this issue’s art was not as clear as seen in previous issues. But besides that, there wasn’t much else to critique in this book.

The Final Say:
You really need to be reading this book. This issue is the fifth of 5, so not really the best jumping on point, but if you want, you could always pick up issue 18 and get caught up; you wont be able to put the book down. Over all, I have to give this book a solid 3 out of 4, and I highly recommend reading this book. If you haven’t already pick it up tomorrow along with the new issue #24. Let us know what you thought if this book in the comments, we would love to hear from you!

Nerd Culture: a Call for Civility

It can be really difficult for someone first trying to break into a new hobby, especially when that hobby involves packs of nerds.  Being around a group of nerds that love a particular subject can be a very intimidating experience, especially if they aren’t particularly fond of letting outsiders into their midst.

In my experience, some groups want to make others feel ridiculous for not knowing whatever asinine thing that they know, regardless of the fact that they have been hopelessly hoarding every tidbit of knowledge they could smuggle into their parents basement for the last decade and you have been interested in the subject for a month or so.  It can all be very imposing (emotionally more so than physically).  You don’t want to feel stupid so you just slowly withdraw your attempt to get into whatever it is you wanted to get into.

"I can't hear you over the sound of you leaving my store."

“I can’t hear you over the sound of you leaving my store.”

There is a sign in the parking lot of the airsoft field that I play at that says, “Don’t be a Dick.”  I think it’s about time all of us in the nerd community (from those that know less than Jon Snow to those that know more than the Watcher) heed this advice and realize that we are a part of a bigger community and there is no reason we can’t all share our interests (Your fandom is not a finite thing – letting people into it will not leave less for you).

I am slowly working my way into comic books (I even started my own pull list at my local comic shop – or LCS as the hipsters call it).  Comics have been around for a LONG time and knowing where to start feels impossible figure out.  Trying to pick a starting point feels like walking into the Jedi Archives and looking for one book in particular without the help of the Star Wars equivalent of the Dewey Decimal System.

That reference might have gone too far. I do not apologize.

That reference might have gone too far. I do not apologize.

Lucky for me, my friends that were already into comics have been welcoming, and the guys at ComicCollectorLive.com: the Store have been awesome.  Not everyone has this experience, however.  There are those that cling to their fandom and are vehement that only they and theirs may partake in it.  They use their knowledge and off-putting personality as a roadblock made of condescending comments and arrogance, and that, my friends, is ridiculous.

Are there legitimate arguments for not allowing others into your fandom?  It’s not like it hurts you in any way (except maybe the fact that it involves more people you have to socialize with).  If anything it would be more economically viable for your interests to become a commercial success so more resources will be poured into it, in turn creating more things for you to have.  It’s a win-win scenario, really.

Earlier this week, Shandi (neighbor, friend, wife of Stephen (she’s a saint)) wrote about the inclusiveness of certain nerd communities and how accepted that made her feel.  I think it’s important that as a community we are mindful of the effects both our exclusivity (bad) and inclusivity (good) have on others and try to be more accepting of newcomers.  Who cares if that girl you know only reads Loki: Agent of Asgard because of Tom Hiddleston — you were introduced to characters by other people too.

This is why I call for a new age of civility among not just the nerd communities, but also those attempting to enter the labyrinth of nerdity.  Be kind to those asking for your advice on which comics they should get into; don’t be a jerk to that kid who’s trying to build his first Magic: the Gathering deck.  This not only makes your own interests more economically successful for the people that put it out there, but it also gives a better name to nerd culture as a whole.

Why A Toddler Makes Your Opinion Irrelevant

You might have already seen it, but there’s a video making the rounds of this adorable little 1 year old dude watching the scene from Man of Steel where Superman flies for the first time. If you haven’t watched it, here it is:

 

As I watched that video, I got so excited for that little kid. Seeing him so happy about such an iconic moment for, arguably, comics greatest superhero made me smile so big. But then, almost as quickly as I got excited, I got angry Not at the kid mind you. I’m not a monster. I started getting mad at all the nerd-elitists who ravage every superhero movie, and really any piece of entertainment-art that’s presented to the public. I got mad at a culture that spits at something it considers inferior to it’s perception. I’m not saying it isn’t OK to be disappointed with something. I’m just saying you don’t have to be such an a–hole about it.

 

I get it. You don’t like Zack Snyder, or his style of film-making. In your “opinion” it doesn’t have enough depth or maturity. I don’t really f—ing care and neither does Zack “multimillionaire” Snyder. That’s MY opinion. Oh Superman would never kill and that’s unrealistic for the character and what he represents? Guess what? HE’S NOT F—ING REAL. He’s the most unreal thing ever. Aliens are not coming to Earth to have a massive battle in a city that ALSO does not exist, which would cause an astronomically high amount of hypothetical destruction. “The character has a lot of history  and sentimental value for us. You can’t just be OK with them changing him like that.” I am. I’m not immune to being bummed by the changing of a character, but here, I really don’t see enough change to make a big deal. The essentials of who Superman is are still in place. “How would you explain to your kid that Superman killed someone?” Like this, “Son, Zod wanted to destroy Earth. He wanted to completely annihilate all life as we know. Clark, Superman, didn’t want that to happen and in the heat of the moment he made the very hard decision to kill Zod. Also, none of this is real.”

Pictured: An Alien-man not actually flying.

 

Man of Steel is obviously the topical film here because of the video, but this is constantly happening. Green Lantern for example. Was it flawless? No. IN MY OPINION, the film probably could have benefited from a different director who was a little more familiar with the source material. But Ryan Reynolds was great, and really held the movie together. It was so cool getting to see THE GREEN F—ING LANTERN use his ring and create stuff and fight The Paralax. I mean, we got to see that! In (mostly) real life! Or how much s–t the Ghost Rider movies get. You all know what to expect from Nick Cage at this point. If you go into one of his flicks thinking that it’s going to scale back the lunacy, then you’re greatly kidding yourself and you should just stop watching movies all together. The second one, Spirit of Vengeance, is so balls-out ridiculous that if you took it seriously for one second and complained then you’re oblivous and you missed the point. It was supposed to be excessive and insane.

Not trying to win any Academy Awards here…

 

One of the all-time worst is when “celebrity” nerds annihilate something. I follow lots of comic book creators and comedians on Twitter and when one of them trashes a movie, or comic, or TV show it just bums me out so much. I feel like, you’re a creator. You make something from where once there was nothing, just like those people did, and yet completely forgetting how exhaustive and draining the creative process is, you just cruelly disassemble their art. Because, for whatever reason, you don’t deem it worthy enough. I don’t comprehend that. Knowing how much of yourself you give to and put into a project, how can you possibly justify criticizing someone else who’s doing the same thing? Simply being a fan, I feel like there’s something I missing, or ignorant to, that allows that behavior to be tolerated. Maybe it’s just a vicious cycle. Like, maybe one guy did it once and ever since celebrities just think it’s OK to criticize one another because they’re all in the same business. I still have a hard time understanding it though.

I recent heard Will Smith say that he tells his kids, “Your art is a gift to people to help their lives be better and be brighter.” I think that’s a great quote. But It’s also kind of sad. Knowing how cruel “fans” and audiences can be, it’s sad that artists are trying to do something to make our lives better, and in return they get ridiculed for not presenting something “better”. “Oh yeah, well, they also get millions of dollars”. Oh so, status merits condemnation? They have more money so they’re better equipped to handle mockery? You realize how ridiculous that sounds, right? Flip that around, and have a millionaire artist criticizing a starving artist, and you’d crucify that person for their arrogance and egotism.

 

There’s a line of thought out there that says criticism forces the best from a person. I call bulls–t on that. It’s not your goddamn job to be Mr Miyagi to the entire entertainment world. All you’re doing is making people afraid to create art. “Well if they’re not fearless then they won’t make good art.” That’s exactly what a bully would say. Oh I’m sorry, you’re wondering how you’re a bully. Well, you criticize with your words in the hope that you’ll sway the creative process in the direction that you want it to go. You’re trying to force what you want out of people. Sounds like a f–king bully to me.

“Why don’t you make like Back to the Future 2 and be better than Back to the Future 3.”

 

My good friend, and fellow 4LN writer, Cam Clark and I have spoken about this issue at great length, and I’d like to share some of his thoughts, which are FAR less aggressive than that of my own…

Nerd culture is becoming more and more synonymous with Popular culture.  We have seen evidence of this with the ever-increasing popularity of movies that find their origins in the pages of comics, and the breakout success of TV shows based on Fantasy novels and graphic novels.  Unfortunately this has also heralded the coming of something much more malevolent – NERD RAGE.

As nerds, we are fortunate to live in a time in which several niches of the nerd realm are being actively brought to the forefront of mainstream entertainment, and that is pretty damn exciting to me.

Our favorite heroes are shown in movie theaters worldwide several times a year and the production values are astonishing.  Does this mean that every superhero movie that comes out is amazing?

Not at all.

There have been some pretty mediocre nerd movies in the history of motion pictures, BUT I do think that the hate that is shown over decisions made for movies that are still over two years away is getting a little out of hand.

There is a pretty common notion floating around that since superhero movies are so prevalent now then we DEMAND that they meet every single one of are expectations. Whose expectations you ask?  Who knows!  That’s the problem.  How many fans have how many ideas about how these characters should be brought to life? We won’t all get what we want, even if they make the best movie in the history of mankind.

That’s why I suggest we try to have what I call the “I’m just happy to be here” mentality.

I didn’t get a chance to see Man of Steel when it first came out (having an infant will do that), and before I finally got to see it I read so many reviews saying it was awful, that it didn’t live up to the character.  When I finally got a chance to see it, I’ll admit I was a little nervous, but as I watched Superman take flight I loved it.  I was just really happy to be seeing one of my favorite icons come to life.

This isn’t to say that these movies were up there with the top films of all time, but there is still something neat about seeing a character in a different medium.

“So what you are saying is I shouldn’t have any standards?”

Not really, I am just saying maybe try just enjoying yourself instead of railing against the cruel fate that made Superman kill Zod instead of… uh… wait, what were the other available options in that scenario?

I think it’s important to realize that there will never be a movie that meets every single on of your individual expectations and for the myriad of nerds out there that demand a movie that does, they are doomed to be perennially disappointed.  Millions of dollars have been invested into these comic book characters, and recently they are actually attracting some of best talent Hollywood has to offer to portray them.  Superheroes, who used to be relegated to straight-to-TV movies, are now Summer Blockbusters, and I am so excited about it.”

Pictured: Cam being my hero.

Pictured: Cam being my hero.

 

Now, for some brief humility. I’m far from innocent of this pompous attitude. I’ve even written articles on this very website where I shredded movies for no real reason. Just because I wanted to, and because I thought it was funny (I present to previous Back to the Future caption as exhibit A). I used my opinion to criticize and degrade someone’s art. And I’m ashamed of that. Being able to see the joy on my son’s face when he sees Superman fly, or when he sees Wolverine go berserk, and seeing how emotional he was while watching Thor 2, reminds me of the child-like wonder that we lose when we become adults. We act like the $10 and 2 hours we spent on a movie somehow merits a bitter attack on it. And most of the time, we don’t even spend that much. If you watch a movie for free, or steal it, then piss and moan about it, f— you. If you illegally downloaded it, you’re not only a dick, you’re a thief too. (However if you illegally download a movie and aren’t a jerk about it, then we’re cool. I know, I’m kind of a hypocrite too. Aren’t the 3 of you who actually read this glad you did?)

I know, it’s ironic that I call you a bully but then I seemingly bully you in return. Fighting fire with fire, so to speak. I consider myself less of a bully, and more of a Robin Hood. I’m trying to address an injustice that I’m witnessing, and doing what’s within my ability to right it. But then again, I already admitted to being a hypocrite, so maybe I am just a bully. All I know for sure is, I never want my kids to treat anything with disrespect. That includes “stupid” superhero movies and comics. I refuse to let my children feel entitled to anything. None of us deserve to feel entitled. I want them to feel joy and wonder when they see Superman take flight, or Thor hammering a Frost Giant, or Iron Man suiting up. But I want to retain that too. I want to watch movies and TV shows, and read comics, with the same appreciation and wonder that I did when I was a kid. Because imagination is what propels us. Not cruelty. That’s why that little boy makes your, and my, opinion irrelevant. All he sees is the amazing feat of Superman taking flight. To him that’s the most incredible thing he’s ever seen. The older we get the less we see flight. All we see is CGI, because we’ve lost our imagination. We experience life through a cynical filter, and it only breeds more cynicism in the world.

Ultimately, we all have the right to say what we want, and that includes criticism, so it’s not like I expect this to change anything. We need to understand how lucky we are to live in a society and culture where we can freely read and watch what we want without persecution. We shouldn’t take that for granted by treating art like garbage. We should learn to just be happy to be here.

“Worst. Blog Article. Ever. Also, you already used this caption joke in a previous article. Way to be original…”