Shiny Shelf

Thor: God-Size

By Mark Clapham on 24 December 2008

One of the most pleasant surprises Marvel has delivered in the last year or so has been a resurgence in their mythological titles.

These have often been unfashionable, and often low-sellers, an odd fit with the superhero titles with which they share continuity. Few writers have managed to square the circle of ancient myth combined with modern superheroics, and fans have often responded poorly.

However, of late there has been a revival, which started when writer J Michael Straczynski relaunched ‘Thor’ to great reviews and huge sales. When a new ‘Hulk’ title was launched, the existing one was rebranded as ‘Incredible Hercules’, with writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente delivering a tongue-in-cheek combination of Greek Myth and high octane action that delights in its own high silliness.

Then there’s Matt Fraction’s work on ‘Thor’, which has so far covered three one-shots retelling Norse myths, a mini-series tying into the ‘Secret Invasion’ crossover, and finally this month’s ‘God-Size’ special.
Fraction seems an odd fit for the character. He’s a writer known mainly for very contemporary, pop-culture literate comics like the brain-popping spy-saga ‘Casanova’. However, it’s exactly the skills he uses on those other titles that makes him suitable for ‘Thor’ – an eye for genre specifics that creates an immersive read.

Fraction’s ‘Thor’ books have been drenched in the atmosphere of Norse myth, of god-like power and an ancient sense of valour. Pleasingly, this has applied both in the one-shots, which are set within the myth cycle and based directly on the myths themselves, and in the ‘Secret Invasion’ mini set in current continuity.

This month’s ‘God Size’ special brings Fraction’s Norse dabblings to an end, and makes pretty damn clear which previous ‘Thor’ creator has most inspired Fraction’s work – this is a fanboy love letter of such intensity that Walt Simonson might wish to take out a restraining order.

The issue revisits the death of Skurge from ‘Thor’ #362 (the issue itself is reprinted at the back, which for once is a nice extra rather than Marvel’s usual stunt of fattening the page count with filler), first by retelling the death from different viewpoints (allowing artists such as Dan Brereton and Mike Allred to do their diverse stuff) and then by going off on a short sequel. To be honest it’s the lesser of Fraction’s ‘Thor’ work, as it’s so continuity dependent, but as an end to his run which also pays tribute to an inspirational creator, it’s executed with unmatched class and flare.

Hopefully, when either the myth-cycle one-shots or the ‘Secret Invasion’ mini are collected, ‘God Size’ will be reprinted too. I suspect that these one-shots and spin-offs have slipped by a lot of readers, and all seven issues deserve to get a wider audience in trade paperback. Seek them out.

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By Mark Clapham

Mark Clapham is a Devon-based writer and editor. You can find out more about him at the egotistically named

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