Jason Aaron and Chris Sprouse‘s Thors is easily one of the most entertaining, clever and intriguing books to come out of Marvel’s Secret Wars event.
Thors is essentially Law and Order: Battleworld. The Thor Corps are battleworld’s inter-kingdom police force, and Thors follows two detectives on the trail of a vicious killer. Beta Ray Thor and Leif “Ultimate” Thor are the protagonists, veteran detectives stuck with five dead bodies, and no clues.
Thors #1 is written as the first part of the first episode of a classical TV police procedural. Jason Aaron works hard to evoke the genre from the very first page with every detail. Beta Ray and Leif have caught an unsolvable case, an “allthing”, which usually results in Thors being stripped of their hammers. Our heroes apprehensively trudge forward into the mystery as other Thors offer jeers or condolences on their fate. I don’t want to give away any more of the story, except to say that it hits all the notes that the first chapter of a mystery yarn should.
By setting Thors as a cop drama, Jason Aaron walks a tightrope between camp and drama. Thors features all the important characters that appear on a cop show. Various Marvel characters appear as the forensic’s officer, the angry police captain, the scuzzy informant, and of course the grossed out rookie who has never seen a dead body before. These archetypes, along with the story structure, do sometimes risk veering into parody. However, Aaron managed to keep the story grounded through a mix of engaging protagonists and a genuinely intriguing mystery. For example, a hammer wielding frog forensic officer is the kind of comedic absurdity that takes the reader out of the gritty detective story, but the revelations the frog brings, sucks the reader right back in.
Chris Sprouse‘s art is realistic and striking, using solid, clean lines and dramatic compositions. His framing is often inspired by, and sometimes directly homages the cinematic language of TV cop dramas. The first page particularly evokes the genre, first with a shot of a corpse, followed by a low angle of a bunch of Thors looking down at it, one kneeling. Its a good art style, one that gets the job done and doesn’t draw attention to itself. The inks Karl Story uses are on point, and Marte Gracia effectively employs dark colors to convey a sense of dread. Thors is a terrific example of art really pairing well with writing to evoke a style. Without Sprouse’s immersive art, Aaron’s work on steeping Thor within the procedural drama wouldn’t work quite as well.
Overall, I quite enjoyed Thors. Its a highly entertaining and very engaging comic. It’s rare that a superhero comic can be so much fun but also build so much suspense. I enthusiastically recommend Thors. I also recommend that you listen to the theme song from your favorite cop drama while you do it. The original Law and Order theme works especially well.
Have you read Thors? What did you think of this unique take on a Marvel tale? Send us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.