As I was skimming through the Thor message boards at Alvaro’s Comic Boards, I noticed that someone posted the latest sale numbers of the main Thor title and it’s brother comic (pun intended) Journey Into Mystery. Thor is currently 53rd on the sales list and Journey Into Mystery (going forward refered to as J.I.M.) is sitting at 85th place. These numbers are not good news and are unacceptable.
Just last year Thor was one of Marvel’s best selling books and when they originally split the monthly Thor comic into The Mighty Thor and J.I.M, both books were selling well. With Matt Fraction writing Thor and Kieron Gillen helming J.I.M, it should have been a time to celebrate but both are floundering. Will I have to live through a third Thor comic cancellation in my lifetime? I sure hope not, but it is a possibility.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY
The original title that Thor debuted in, they decided to re-christen the book with it’s name from the 1960’s and placed Kieron Gillen on writing duties. This was a smart move as Gillen really did a great job of filling in for J. Michael Straczynski when he wrote Thor’s return after the last cancellation a few years ago. He has a good grasp on the character’s, universe and mythos that surrounds Thor. The issue that this book is having is not in the writer but in the subject matter I am afraid.
I loved the idea of focusing the book on a reborn, and young, Loki who had no memories of his past life and the evil deeds he did. It was a risk that Marvel was gambling on but the quality of the stories have been top notch. It is nice to see Loki in the lead character slot and even more refreshing to see him as a character you can invest in, although he may also be what is hindering the book.
You see, the stories created in J.I.M. are focusing on secondary characters (and some times even lower tiers) of Thor’s world. Even with some fantastic story telling and plot devices, this may be what is hurting the book as Thor is a tough sell himself to the casual reader. To bring forth even more obscure and lesser characters from Thor’s world is a bad decision.
THE MIGHTY THOR
Well I really have no idea where to begin here as we have multiple issues. When the decision was made to split Thor into 2 monthly titles, Marvel gave the writing job to Matt Fraction who had penned a few Thor one shots in the past and who is one of the creators they have used to write their last few big events. They also had amazing artist Olivier Coipel continue on Thor, as he drew the character since the return after the last cancellation a few years ago and designed the new costume.
A lot of the blame I have for this book failing is on the shoulders of Fraction. The guy has very cool and interesting ideas, develops them until about mid way through the story arc and then the story slowly degrades into a mess. Every time. I am not kidding here, it happens on every Thor story arc he has written for the comic. He also leaves a lot of loose ends with plot threads that go unanswered and has had “off” interpretations of the characters.
Although the stories were slow building with J. Michael Straczynski at the helm, much to the dismay of some vocal readers, there was always a well thought out story that built to an epic conclusion. Not an epic fail as all of Fraction’s arcs have been.
There is also an issue with the artwork. Once Olivier Coipel left the book, I have found the artwork way to simple. It lost the “grandness” that Coipel presented, there is no definition in the panels and it feels like each item in the panel is bleeding into each other and it has allowed the poor writing to shine through. Coipel’s amazing work atleast made the comic passable as it evened out the terrible story.
HOW TO “FIX” THOR
Fixing Thor is something Marvel may not be worried about as he is a huge part of The Avengers movie, has had a hit at the box office himself last year and is going to have a sequel in 2014. They may just ride the popularity of the movies and hope that new readers will pick up the book, even though the current product has alienated most of the long time fans.
There is a solution however, well a few solutions to be more correct.
The first thing Marvel has to do is merge Journey Into Mystery BACK into The Mighty Thor. Separating the book into 2 comic books was a huge mistake. Even though J.I.M. has been better by far, it does not have the commercial appeal that Thor has. This will allow Marvel to focus on one Thor themed book each month instead of 2.
The next thing they have to do is get Fraction off of the title as soon as humanly possible. Replace him with Gillen, as he would be available with J.I.M. no longer existing. As I stated earlier in this rant, Gillen has a superb grasp on Thor and his mythos and he would be the perfect person to re-establish the character after the follies of Fraction.
With a good writer in place there has to be a return of Olivier Coipel to the title as well. He is my favorite Thor artist to ever work on the title, due to the way he presents Thor in a powerful and godly manner. All the pictures I used in this rant were drawn by him and the man knows how to present Thor in a powerful way.
Allow Gillen to go into the story and fix as many of the loose ends as possible so there is closure to the stories but then allow him to do what he does best, present great stories as Coipel presents breath taking visuals. This would allow them to restart Thor fresh without doing a true reboot and would show they have invested in the character.
Will They? God I hope so.
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