Thor #615 heralds the beginning of the Matt Fraction era of the long-running title. With the movie looming in the not-so-distant future, how does the title look?
Credits & Solicit Info:
COVER BY: PASQUAL FERRY
WRITER: Matt Fraction
PENCILS: PASQUAL FERRY
INKS: PASQUAL FERRY
COLORED BY: MATTHEW DALE HOLLINGSWORTH
LETTERED BY: NEUROTIC CARTOONIST, INC
Fraction! Ferry! Heroic Age! The perfect jumping-on point as THOR's all-new creative team and all-new era kick off HERE! In the wake of SIEGE, Asgard must take its proper place as the Golden Realm, most glorious of the nine worlds of myth. But that means Thor's home isn't just a beacon...it's a target! And what happens to the Asgardians and the denizens of all nine worlds -- including Earth! -- when a dark, destructive force from another reality comes on the warpath?
Thor #615 kicks off the new creative team of hit writer Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry. Fraction is the writer that Marvel entrusted the Invincible Iron Man book to when they had a little snuff film called Iron Man coming out. Fraction took the ball that Marvel handed him and ran with it, earning awards, acclaim and a spot in Marvel's upper echelon of writers as a result. It's no surprise that Marvel turned to Fraction again to rehabilitate the main Thor title before the release of the Thor movie in eight months.
However, unlike Invincible Iron Man, which Fraction had a clean slate to work with, Thor is currently recovering from some pretty traumatic events that occurred outside of its title. With Loki's murder and Asgard's destruction in recent months, Fraction has a lot of loose ends to tie up in his run. In addition, Fraction also has to deal with rehabilitating a title that's been lacking in the writing department since J. Michael Straczynski left the title a year ago. Fraction's solution to this mess is to move away from the Shakespearean approach that JMS established for the reboot and take Thor to a more space opera type of book, not dissimilar to the tone of the Annihilation events and their Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy spinoffs. He even recruited Pasqual Ferry, a remarkable artist who operates best when dealing with cosmic characters and events.
Unfortunately, Fraction isn't quite able to pull the desired effect off. Relying too heavily on a framing narrative to set up his arc, we're given too much set up as to the eventual conflict and not enough time on Thor and his companions. What time Fraction does spend on the Asgardians is second-rate heavy handed drama that's no better than the writing of Fraction's predecessor on the title, Kieron Gillen. Thor broods far too much, Balder mopes, and the rest of the Asgardians are reduced to mere one-note characters in their brief appearances.
However, it's not Fraction's writing that causes this issue to fail in the eye of the reader, but rather on Ferry's art. Ferry's pencils, which are usually beautiful, suffers from weak inking (presumably done by Ferry himself) and even weaker colors. An entire two-page sequence of art depicts all the Asgardians with shut, slanted eyes, not unlike that of a mediocre depiction of a character of Asian descent. While Ferry's art has traditionally been served best by lighter pastel coloring, this issue features colors that are too watered down to make an impact or statement. Competing the mediocre circle is the lettering and layout of the art. The lettering in particular makes the comic look like something out of a third rate publisher, not the largest comic book company in the world. While I can't quite put my finger on what's wrong with the mechanics of the issue's layouts, I can state that it's easily one of the worst graphically produced comics I've ever seen.
I'm still optimistic about this title under the guidance of Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry. Fraction has had precious few missteps under pressure (Uncanny X-Men being the only one that springs to mind) and Ferry's art suffers more from a poor production value than anything else. I hope that Marvel ups its game and brings Thor back to the level of the other ongoing Thor title, Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which is easily the most accessible and superior Thor title on shelves today.
Review by: BlueStreak