Review: Thor – God Butcher – God Bomb

In Brief:  These first two volumes of Thor, God of Thunder, written by Jason Aaron with principal art by Esad Ribic,  give us three versions of Marvel’s Thor from three separate eras.  Thor must track down and face the God Butcher, a foe from his distant past, present, and future.  It’s cosmic comics adventure that takes full advantage of the current Avengers cross-over appeal.

Pros:  The story is first rate – epoch-spanning, with bits of Asgardian and Marvel Universe lore, while clearly being centered on Thor.  Ribic’s art has a Dark Horse/Conan flavor that effectively captures galactic grandeur and Middle Age Norse grit.

Cons:  Well, the price.  The two hardbound volumes retail at $25 apiece.  But that’s a problem the comics industry continues to face.  Also, movie fans hoping to see Loki won’t find him here.

Review:  Reading comics as a kid, Thor was always just kind of there.  He was an Avenger.  He had a hammer.  He talked funny.  I never really picked up any Thor comics, which is weird because I really liked mythology.  Of course the character has enjoyed something of a revival recently, with a couple of  good super-hero movies and the Avengers tie-in.  At Marvel Comics they’re no doubt acutely aware of this, and their Disney masters are on them to capitalize.  Books like The God Butcher and The God Bomb fit the bill.  They can also serve as a reminder to the corporate types (hopefully) that the comics medium still tells stories of high adventure with the best of them. This tale begins in Medieval Iceland, with a younger, brasher God of Thunder enjoying his time among the Vikings.  Thor the Younger has not yet proven worthy of lifting the hammer, Mjolnir, but it’s not for lack of effort on the battle field.  In Iceland, the Vikings find the decapitated head of a god washed ashore – a god of the American Indians – and Thor wonders who or what is responsible.   Continue reading

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By the Beard of Odin

We did not expect our favorite super-hero/action movie of 2013 to be Thor: The Dark Worldand yet there it is.  Iron Man 3 was not good, Man of Steel was problematic and should have been better…  We have not yet seen The Wolverine, but based on the reviews and chatter, we doubt it will eclipse the son of Odin.  Thor: TDW had the right blend of humor, action, and Asgardian mayhem, as well as an imminently watchable Loki and Thor dynamic and some Avengers 2 easter eggs.  If you’re into the superheroes, you should check it out.

And, of course, it hath spawned another excellent ‘How it Should Have Ended’, this time featuring the Villain Pub.

Movies: The Avengers

…based on Marvel Comics characters created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, written by Zak Penn, directed by Joss Whedon, starring Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), and Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury).

By now, after Hulk-smashing 1st and 2nd week box office records, nearly everyone who reads this blog has seen Marvel’s The Avengers.  It’s the greatest team super-hero movie of all time.  After the last few years’ series of Avengers solo movies, starting with Iron Man up to last summer’s Thor and Captain America, the geeks of the planet have had this date circled.  We’ve watched the short Nick Fury cut-scenes at the end of the movies.  We’ve debated on the internets.  We’ve all hoped it could somehow live up to expectations, seeing Earth’s mightiest heroes together on the big screen.

And Joss Whedon’s super-powered popcorn epic hits the mark.

Yes, the first act is a little slow and awkward at points, introducing the characters with their back stories from the other movies, while setting up Loki and his quest for the Cosmic Cube (the Tesseract in the movie, don’t know why they had to call it that).  No, Black Widow doesn’t really belong on the team, and the Agent Coulson-uniting-the-team card is one Whedon has used over and over again.  Yes, the Chitauri alien villains were pretty generic and definitely had some storm trooper factor.  However…

Joss Whedon

Whedon has been lobbying to do super hero movies for years.  At one point he was linked with an attempt to bring back Wonder Woman and he recently helped the Marvel Comic Astonishing X-Men refocus on that team’s roots.  Beemsville has been a fan of Whedon going back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (still the superior teen-angst with monsters TV series), Angel, and Firefly.   Other than the Firefly-spin-off movie, Serenity, a modest success, Whedon hasn’t directed a blockbuster type movie.  Until now.  He is, however, a lifelong comic fan; a guy who grew up with these characters, reading and re-reading their origins, marveling at the great cross-over four-color stories.  He gets it – he understands the source material, the importance of certain interplays between characters and their symbolic moments.  Contrast this movie to something like Batman and Robin – another big-budget ensemble with a director, Joel Schumacher, who certainly did not get it, and you gain even better appreciation. Continue reading

Superhero Summer Under Way

With the release of X-Men: First Class this weekend, the superhero summer is certainly upon us.  This isn’t the first such summer.  Comic book properties have more than a decade of box office success to draw on now, and while some may lament the dearth of truly original storytelling this trend has helped facilitate, the comics fans among us have generally cheered the results.  You will see a certain segment of the geek world cheering the box office returns, living vicariously through the profit margins.  At Beemsville, we’ve long been more interested in the narrative and whether the character or comic book ensemble gets a fair creative shot on the silver screen.

This is a weird summer; however, with no truly A-list-to-the-general-public characters (no Batman, Superman, Spidey), but plenty of beloved comic book heroes with long histories and strong followings.  It’s worth noting that most of these movies don’t feature a lot of A-list stars, but rather good known quantities in the lead roles.

Marvel’s Thor has lead the way in admirable fashion (full review here).  The early reviews of the X-Men prequel have been positive, and though it will mess with the purists’ heads on facets of the X-mythos, we’re glad to see the mutants looking strong.  Later this month is DC’s only offering, with Ryan Reynolds’ portraying Green Lantern.  Hopefully this film is good, because GL has always been a personal fave with a lot of cinematic potential.  In July we get another of the Avengers prequels from Marvel with, Captain America.  Not sure what to think about this one, and I’m worried about the film spending too much time in the World War II setting rather than the more interesting aspect of Cap – how he deals with the present once revived from suspended animation. Continue reading

Movies: Thor

…written by J. Michael Straczynski, Ashley Miller, Zach Stentz, directed by Kenneth Branagh, starring Chris Helmsworth, Natalie Portman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Hiddleston.

Pros: Super-hero action adventure in the Mighty Marvel tradition.  A fun adaptation of Thor from the comics and mythology.

Cons:  Someone needs to come up with a different plot boiler plate for these movies.  Would’ve liked to have seen a little more of Thor in action and at least one scene with the old winged helmet.

Review:  Marvel’s version of the Norse God of Thunder was always an odd character to approach – especially for a kid interested in mythology.  Growing up, I was always trying to reconcile the comic version with what I’d read in other books.  He was fun because Stan the Man and other always had him speaking in a kind of Middle English Shakespearean dialect and he was always one of the most powerful dudes out there.  At the same time, I never really had a sense of the actual character. Continue reading

Some Trailers of Note

The movie we’re most looking forward to next month is, of course, the Coen Brothers’ True Grit remake starring Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, and Josh Brolin.  A good Western is always worth a look.  A Western by the Coens…  Boy, howdy.  The short trailer is already playing on TV, but check out the full version for a little more context.

Now contrast this to the original True Grit, beloved by John Wayne fans everywhere:

 

For something completely different:  the Green Lantern trailer finally dropped last week, months after many expected to see it.  Ryan Reynolds is an entertaining actor to portray Hal Jordan, who I always saw as a little arrogant and aloof (at least in the context of the Justice League).  The GL FX look really coooooolll…

Now the upcoming comic book movie we’re most eager to see would be Marvel’s Thor directed by Kenneth Branagh, but I can’t seem to find a decent official trailer link.  The official website isn’t much help either.