Thor – at last!

Thor Annual #2 cover
When I was 12, I came across Thor Annual #2 in a local chip shop cum newsagent. I liked all forms of comics but not in any serious way. I’d read some American comics, all DCs like Batman and Superman but only the occasional Marvel and what I’d seen of them just confused me. But I decided for whatever reason to buy this one, my first Marvel purchase. I was intrigued by the art in particular, the crazily foreshortened hand and hammer leaping off the page into your face. Inside, it was a great way to meet Stan Lee and Jack Kirby at the height of their creativity, and my introduction to Thor, Odin, Loki, the Destroyer and the Warriors Three, Hogun, Fandral and Volstagg, really changed the course of my life. Within a year, my only ambition throughout the remaining years of secondary school was to be an artist for Marvel Comics, and remained so until my leaving day. Unfortunately my drawing skill was one-dimensional – I could draw only Marvel characters – and had no skill, and to be honest, no interest in any other forms of art, a fact picked up quickly from my portfolio resulting in rejections from all four art colleges to which I’d submitted it. Things went differently, I gradually gave up comics for music and on the odd occasion on which I picked one up, grimaced at how they’d gone downhill. A couple of years after finishing university I sold my entire collection to one of the new specialist comic shops and left the country. I was lucky enough to pick up, purely by chance, on Thor’s revival at the hands of Walt Simonson in the 80s (and finally accepted the art schools had been right about me), but after that Thor just lost his appeal.

Until I read a couple of years ago that a film was coming. I’ve followed every news snippet since then, and I’ve never prayed so fervently for any film not to be a turkey. (Kenneth Branagh, it’s nothing to do with your skill as a director, just that I influenced the universe on your behalf! ) I finally saw it today and it’s good – very good in fact! All the same characters as that Thor Annual #2, a great script balancing the epic sweep of Asgard with the small-scale humour of the New Mexico scenes, excellent acting particularly from Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. Truth to tell I’ve always been more of a Loki fan than a Thor fan and Hiddleston portrays a sympathetic but conniving character much as Lee, Simonson and Kirby first hinted at, not the drooling villain he became in the hands of lesser writers.  I’d read (and understood) comic purists carping about how Thor hardly ever wears his helmet and how Asgard is portrayed as a planet not a … whatever it is, but these were instantly overwhelmed for this viewer  by the sheer quality of the film. I enjoy all superhero films, but this one was special and I’m more than just relieved, I’m delighted – ready to see it again!

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