Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Reading Oeming's Thor

Okay. I gotta start off by saying that there are two basic types of characters that interest me the most.

The first is the unpowered, street vigilante type. This includes hardboiled detectives, secret agents, 1930s mystery men, mercenaries-for-hire and martial artists. Provided the characters in question have no powers or very minor (subtle) powers.

Sample characters that fall into this description are Iron Fist, Luke Cage, John Steed, Emma Peel, Moon Knight, Nightwing, Daredevil, Black Widow, #6 (Prisoner), Golden Age Sandman, James Bond, Modesty Blaise and Green Arrow.

The second type is from far on the other side of the spectrum and consists of Gods and way overpowered characters. These are the ones that myths are made from. Cosmic beings, even.

Sample characters include Dr. Strange, Dr. Fate, Thor, Silver Surfer, Hercules, the First (Crossgen) and the New Gods.

It's not very often that you'll come across a good, well-written cosmic-type character. Mostly because it's hard to set up a conflict for someone so powerful.

However, Michael Avon Oeming's Thor, starting with #80, did a good job.

I originally passed on his "Raganrok" story because I saw it as a gimmicky story tied in with the commercial "Avengers Disassembled!" crossover. But after picking up the trade paperback, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Actually... I was very impressed!
The story was simply brilliant. And the art, by Andrea Di Vito, was fantastic!
They both gave the book a truly epic feel and wrapped it up perfectly with an ending that was very fitting. And original.

And yes, it definitely is Ragnarok as everything comes to an end in #85, the last issue of Thor.

Meanwhile, instead of having everything end and then back the next day, which is normal in comics, they have several mini-series bridging the gap, setting up the background for a relaunch next year.
I feel that this is a much better approach.

But then Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill, Oeming and Di Vito's followup to "Ragnarok", couldn't compare to the first story as I felt Oeming kept getting distracted.
He shoulda stopped with one conflict somewhere along the story and continued it from there.
I thought it was just way too disjointed.

After reading it, I was like, "What the..? That's it..? Errr???" (with a dumb look on my face).

Who was the cosmic being that was talking to Beta Ray?
What's up with Alpha Ray and Omega Ray? Were they even necessary?
Asteroth? ???
What was with the needless flashbacks?
The last issue, even? WTF?

Everything seemed to come out of leftfield. Constantly.

However, the brief glimpse of Asgard when Beta Ray returned was very welcome.
And it was nice seeing Galactus and his new herald, Stardust.
Di Vito's art was still just as amazing, too.

But I feel that Oeming dropped the ball on this one. It seemed like he was trying to surprise the reader at every opportunity and at the expense of the story.

I just started reading Thor: Blood Oath and I'm hoping he can redeem himself with this one.
And I'm definitely looking forward to Ares in January. Too bad Di Vito isn't doing the art on either of these, though.

I do hope that the rumors about Thor's return next year as a farm boy youth who changes into Thor (ala Donald Blake/Thor or (more appropriately) Billy Batson/Captain Marvel) is not true. But we'll just have to wait and see.

I give Thor 9 out of 10. Stormbreaker gets 6 out of 10.

BTW, Amazon has a deal if you buy Avengers Disassembled: Thor and Stormbreaker: The Saga of Beta Ray Bill together.

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