A Long Awaited Return...

Thor has, since its JMS driven relaunch a couple of years ago, consistently been one of Marvel's best books. Handled, as it should be, by premier talents like JMS, Olivier Copiel and now Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry (with fantastic up and comer Kieron Gillen acting as a bridge between the two), there hasn't been a bad issue of the book in a long, long time.

And Thor #615 may very well be the best of them.

Months and months ago, with the announcement of the creative team of Fraction and Ferry, Thor fans rejoiced- maybe the book will finally ship on time, we said. And ship on time it did, but with a pretty decent six month run written by Gillen that tied into the larger Siege storyline and acted as both prologue and epilogue to the larger shared universe story while tying up JMS's last loose threads. Now that Fraction and Ferry are here, though, aided by John Hollingsworth and John Workman doing colors and letters respectively, Thor fans should again rejoice, and doubly so: this is great comics, some of the best straight up superhero work Fraction has ever done.

Although we've seen great Thor writing from him in the past, this blows all of that other stuff straight off the world tree. The scope here is huge, epic and cosmic and takes its influences from the Thor greats of years past, greats like Kirby and Simonson (and if you don't believe that that's what Fraction and Marvel have in mind, then why do you think they brought Workman, who lettered on Thor for Simonson, back on board?). Fraction not only has a handle on all of these characters and their relationships- this is clear from the Thor/Donald Blake dialogue (which is a home run) and the way in which the titular character mourns for his half brother- but also the way a book like this should feel. The sense of impending doom, expressed explicitly near the end, that lurks underneath the whole story, that imbues it with a sense of urgency is an indication of just how brilliant, in both subtle and straight up ways, the writer can be.

Pasqual Ferry's art is soft in all the right ways, and his slight redesigns of the Asgardian garb to give it a more sci-fi feel and help signal the shift away from a fantasy based book. His art, although stiffer than I like generally, has a certain diffuse energy to it and his line, thin and soft, moves the comic away from Copiel's hyperrealism into a more mythic territory- this is not something you could walk out of your house and see going on down the street, and Ferry does a great job expressing it. Hollingsworth's soft colors and, in particular, Workman's fluid lettering help this impression as well.

If the next issues of Thor can be as good as this one- or, imagine, if they could be better- we have a new classic on our hands. Fraction and Ferry were a long time coming, but now that we have them we should feast and rejoice- they just don't make comics like this anymore, even if sometimes they try.

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