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thor07.jpgThor currently has an incredibly bizarre position. After going through Ragnarok and disappearing from the Marvel Universe altogether in 2004, he had a faked-out return during Civil War and eventually came back properly in Thor (Volume 3) #1 in 2007, written by Straczynski. Since then, he hasn’t appeared outside his own title, and I kind of felt like maybe the relaunch was sort of under the radar.

Not so. In February 2008, Thor #6 was the number FOUR best-selling comic in the industry. Wrap your noodle around that one. Number FOUR. Beating Ultimates V3 #3 (thankfully) and Frank Millar’s Batman. Beating the debut of Millar and Hitch on Fantastic Four. Beating two of three Spider-Man: Brand New Day issues released that month. This, with the SIXTH issue of his title.

So, as you can imagine, it seemed like it was worth giving Thor a try.

And I have to admit… I’m impressed. Perhaps I had low expectations because most of the time, I don’t like Straczynski’s writing. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve got no specific interest in Thor. Perhaps it’s just Djurdjevic’s amazing artwork. Whatever the reason, this was easily the best issue of Thor that I’ve ever read, which is admittedly, not a huge number.

The plot of Thor’s new title is centred around Thor rebuilding Asgard following Ragnarok, and recovering the fallen gods. He’s the current Lord of Asgard, and claims that he can’t bring Odin back because Odin died before Ragnarok. In this issue, we learn that, this is pretty much a lie – Thor just doesn’t want to bring Odin back. Conversing with Thor in a sort of mystical beyond-the-grave dream-time, Odin tells Thor why this is, and relates the story of how he came to succeed his own father as Lord of Asgard in much the same way in a story that frankly threatens to make Odin more interesting than Thor.

I don’t know how much of Straczynski’s Norse mythology is made up and how much is Marvel’s (or Straczynski’s) take, but Odin’s story is a fantastic use of the book’s unique position. Northlanders might be showing street-level Norsemen brilliantly, but Marvel has the gods side of it stiched up. Djurdjevic’s interiors are amazing, grimy and cold and exactly like you’d expect Asgard and Norway to look – it’s frankly criminal that he’s been churning out nothing but Daredevil covers for ages now.

There are some of JMS’ idiosyncracies present that grate a little, and I can’t help but feel that a talking Raven is a little too cribbed from Sandman. While I’m still unsure how interested I am in a Thor ongoing, this one issue has at least convinced me that I could easily enjoy it. I may well be back next issue.