Thors may be the best of the tie-in series to Secret Wars. The collected edition is now available.
In Thors, the various iterations of the Thunder God serve as the police force of Battleworld. A serial killer case draws detective partners Ultimate Thor and Beta Ray Bill onto the trail of murderer stalking the same two victims across Doom’s patchwork planet. Loki, a crazed street person, points Ultimate Thor toward the culprit. Teaming up with the disgraced Odinson, Ultimate Thor realizes that the truth behind the killings relates to the critical lie at the heart of the world Doom has constructed.
Writer Jason Aaron, who’s got a strong track record with the Thunder God, did some really crafty work with Thors. More than any other Secret Wars series, it made good use of multiple versions of the title character in one story. It not only drove a compelling narrative, but tied the climax directly into the heart of the issues driving the parent saga.
Casting Thors as a noir-drenched cop procedural was an inspired stroke on Aaron’s part. The contrast of that very earthbound genre sensibility with the mythological trappings of Thor provided for a compelling and unique take on the characters. Aaron injected all kinds of fun bits into the story and put some interesting spins on familiar tropes. King Thor as the grizzled commanding officer, Frog Thor as the medical examiner and Odinson as the fallen cop were all creative uses of familiar characters inhabiting procedural archetypes in highly entertaining ways.
Long-time fans will enjoy seeing the various Thor iterations involved in the story. The current female Thor figured heavily in the climax, and other versions, like Thunderstrike and Storm as Thunder Goddess, were welcome callbacks. The story even had room for a couple of amusing surprises, like a Groot Thor (“I am Thor!”). Aaron also deployed Loki rather cannily. The story was just a blast to read.
The popular veteran team of Chris Sprouse and Karl Story handled most of the art, with an assist from Gordon Sudzuka and Dexter Vines on a couple issues. Thors boasted a shadowy, gritty feel that was a nice approximation of its genre inspiration. That contrasted well with the more fantastic images of a police force comprised of variations on the title character. The action is clean and uncluttered, with the images flowing easily. The two art teams are very simpatico and the Sudzuka/Vines parts are pretty much seamless with the Sprouse/Story sections. Colorists Marte Gracia and Israel Silva do strong work, bathing the proceedings in dark, subdued hues to evoke the noir atmosphere, punctuated with bright bursts of color when one of the Thors lets loose with a lightning bolt. It’s lively, involving art that serves the story ideally.
As a bonus, the collected edition includes Walt Simonson’s ’80s vintage two-parter that introduced Frog Thor. It’s a nice throwback to round out the experience.
You don’t need to be an existing fan to enjoy Thors, though the more familiarity a reader has with the character’s past, the more impact some of the fun choices will have. Either way, this is among the best realized of the Secret Wars tie-ins and is worth reading.