Thor #615 (Marvel): Honestly, I’ve never really cared much about Thor. The only time I can remember warming to the character was during the Kurt Busiek and George Perez run of Avengers. “Ultron… we would have words with thee” was a pretty chilling line that I remember years later, so there’s something to be said for that. I used to say that I didn’t care much about Iron Man either, but Matt Fraction sure made me change my stance, so I figured why not give this a try? I had some store credit piling up at Sea Donkey’s, it was a slow week, and Fraction’s first issue, so what the hell? The result? I can’t say that I’ll be buying the title, but I liked a couple small things about it. Having no idea what’s come before, I was able to glean that uhh, Loki is dead, Odin is in limbo, Asgard’s jacked up, and Thor has been reborn. Ferry’s art is competent, but not really to my liking. He uses some fantasy inspired expanses (aka: “widescreen” shots) that initially look impressive, but then you begin to notice the skimpy backgrounds, lack of detail, and washed out coloring from Hollingsworth. I enjoyed Thor's mixed emotions about Loki's passing, but I really have no interest in the Nine Norse Worlds warring, the plight of the Ice Elves, Volstagg, Heimdall, Green Arrow, err… Fandral, Galadreal, Lord Elrond, Legolas, Aragorn, the internal mythology and characters just go on and on here… I thought Sif was cute, and wondered about Don Blake playing Dr. Stein to Thor’s Ronnie/Firestorm. My favorite part was the self-effacing humor of lines like “your science is stupid” as Dr. Eric Solvang explained the “quantum metaverse,” but when your favorite (only) thing you like is a throwaway scene with a throwaway character that’s basically just fancy throwaway exposition… Grade B-.
Uncanny X-Men #528 (Marvel): No idea what’s going on in that cover shot. Initially, I thought Whilce Portacio’s pencils were a little better than his last outing, clean, clear, with no overt gaffes, but then I got to the section where Emma looks like a ‘roided out bodybuilder and her tits could serve as buoyant floatation devices for travelers on a downed aircraft in the San Francisco Bay. The mechanics of the scene outside the church are also a little headscratchy; the guy shoots in the air? Or is that supposed to be recoil? Wha...? It’s just not that clear. And what’s with the amoeba shaped panels? That was a deliberate artistic choice to convey… what, exactly? On the scripting side, why send Bobby all the way down to LA on a business trip to rep the X-Men and speak with a professional PR firm if he’s such a poor communicator? It’s funny I guess, but it makes absolutely no sense. Not interested in the Namor parts. I have absolutely no idea who the people at the SFMOMA set are, and calling out artists breaks the fourth wall hard and annoyingly. It’s the same old story; there are far too many unwieldy plot threads to effectively manage here. If you dedicate any time to advancing one in particular, then the others suffer and are forgotten. If you try to advance them all simultaneously (as Fraction does), then things move at a glacial pace, feeling like a bunch of disparate ideas strung together with rough jump cuts. The only thing I kinda’ still give a crap about is Kitty, so there’s a small glimmer of hope that her condition might be explained/resolved. Other than that, the preview for the Chaos War looked more intriguing than any of this mutant malaise. Grade C.