In 2004, The Mighty Thor stopped Ragnarok, preventing the end of the world, and disappeared into a void of nonexistence. The Avengers labeled him missing in action, and the world moved on. Three years later, he returned to a very different Marvel Universe with a simple (at first) agenda: restore the glory of Asgard.
The return of one of Marvel’s most powerful heroes needed an iconic writer, and the company turned to J. Michael Straczynski, the sci-fi overlord who created Babylon 5 and had already done re-invigorating work on Spider-Man and Dr. Stephen Strange.
Straczynski’s Thor maintains the old hallmarks of the character – the talismanic qualities of Mjolnir, the flowing blonde hair and the alter ego of Dr. Donald Blake – but from the beginning it seems there’s something different about the God of Thunder. Thor is still Thor, but as Volume 3 of his Marvel chronicle begins, he seems to more than ever hold the might of a deity.
Thor returns from the void not with arrogance, but with quiet purpose. He reconnects with Blake, arrives on Earth, and immediately sets about reconstructing the realm of Asgard…in the middle of the Oklahoma prairie. When the local townfolk begin to snoop around, and someone points out to him that he can’t simply build a kingdom on land he doesn’t own, the God of Thunder simply raises his realm a few hundred feet off the ground. From his new, floating palace, Thor begins a search for his fellow Asgardians. He thought they were dead, but they’re only trapped in mortal form, waiting to be freed.
Much of the early sections of Straczynski’s Thor run are about the reunion of the Asgardians, and about the re-ignition of old alliances and treacheries. At first it’s just invigorating for long time fans of the characters to see them rise renewed, and then it gets interesting.
Because, of course, the world has changed. Civil War has ravaged the Marvel Universe, a Civil War in which one side made use of a Thor clone in the hope that it would help them prevail. It is the leader of that side, Tony Stark, who first tries to bring Thor under the rein of the new order. But of course, no one can simply tell a god, particularly a god on a mission, what he will do.
One of the great pleasures of Straczynski’s Thor, beyond the simple talent at work, is the way it builds its way back into the Marvel Universe. The early segments are about resurrection, the middle about reconciliation and the struggle for understanding, and the end about battling to keep all that has been reclaimed. At each turn, things get more complex, old friends and enemies return, and old and new battles lines are drawn. If you’re a fan of the Thunder God, or you really enjoyed the movie and want to know where to go next, don’t miss these stories.