Comic Book Review – Thor #12 (599)

Context
A watched pot never boils.  I don’t know how applicable this advice is to comics since you must actually look at an issue to read it but Straczynski’s Thor does bring to mind this old proverb.  With Issue #12, JMS continues to supply heat to his carefully arranged plot by providing us with his take on the classic “villain definition” issue.

Story
What occupies a villain’s time while he is not trading quips and/or blows with his mortal enemy?  John Byrne addressed this question with flair in the classic Fantastic Four #258.  This time we see a glimpse into the mechanizations of Loki.  JMS does in issue #12 what I have been hoping for in these last few months – he is showing me a little light at the end of this long tunnel. 

The dialogue and pacing are smooth and natural.  Motivations are all in place and these characters are acting…well, in character.  We see a connecting of several plot lines delved into in previous issues.  Interestingly enough however, I did not even consider these plotlines, as they were flashbacks.  Loki now prominently figures in not only Odin’s origin story but his own as well.  There is nothing like a good use of time travel in a story about mythological beings.  JMS does a great job of mixing his comic book forces here.

Thor’s absence in this issue was so well done I didn’t even realize it until the last page or so.  JMS isn’t trying to reinvent his characters, just their environments.  This was Walt Simonson’s recipe for success with Thor back in the eighties. 

Art
I am so glad that we are near the beginning of Oliver Coipel’s (House of M, The Avengers) career.   This means that we have a more decidedly beautiful comic book future on our hands. 

His lines are clear and panels uncluttered.  His figures and faces are solid and expressive.  He places his characters in environments that match their inner power or vice.  For one, Coipel has redefined Thor’s face.  I think for the first time, you could differentiate Thor from other long haired strong types.  I really appreciate Marvel’s use of this great talent on a book that some might not consider to be a flagship title.

What to look for
There is an excellent visual for Hela in this story.  I am not sure how the credit for this should be divided between artist and writer but the mistress of Hel is given a most menacing appearance by subtraction rather than by addition.  She is a well-done, visual gem to seek out in this issue.

What might put you off
Marvel’s continued use of the “pin-up” cover.  Although beautifully rendered by Coipel, you could easily confuse this cover with most of the others produced for this title since its relaunch.

Recommendation
Thor should be on your monthly pull list

Credits 

Title    Thor
Issue 12 (599)
Publisher    Marvel Comics
Release Date 12/24/2008
Writer    J. Michael Stracynski
Penciler    Oliver Coipel
Inker    Mark Morales
Colorist    Laura Martin
Letterer    Chris Eliopoulos
Assistant Editor Alejandro Arbona
Editor    Warren Simons
Editor in Chief Joe Quesada
Publisher    Dan Buckley
Cover Pencils Oliver Coipel
Cover Inks Mark Morales
Cover Colors Laura Martin
Reviewed by Geoff Jolliff

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