Archive for Thor

Thoughts on Thor: The Dark World

Posted in Movies, Superhero with tags , on November 2, 2013 by Cara Marie

Spoilers below! Read more »

This week in comics

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Superhero with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2012 by Cara Marie

Panel showing Kara looking distressed, while Tycho stands behind her, saying, ‘Our daughter? You mean Mom shot Dad?! And Dad was experimenting on you?! That is rough!’ ‘No,’ Kara says. ‘No, this can’t ... this can’t be true!’

Super-Girl #13, Michael Johnson + Sami Basri

In this issue, Kara has a confrontation with a villain from earlier in the series, as well as an epiphany about her past. Tycho is dispatched with rather easily, but the angst, I suspect, will remain.

The more exciting part of this issue was that Kara gets an awesome undersea fortress, and calls her girlfriend new BFF Siobhan when she gets lonely. I was worried we wouldn’t see Siobhan again after Kara’s little ‘I’m putting you in danger’ meltdown, so I was pleased to see her here.

The artist for this issue was Sami Basri. His style is quite different from Mahmud Asrar’s. It reminds me a bit of Jamie McKelvie with Matt Wilson on colours. I liked it. It’s maybe not quite as charming as the felt-tip look, but definitely has its own appeal.

The Mighty Thor #21, Matt Fraction + Alan Davis, Mark Farmer, Javier Rodriguez

Over in The Mighty Thor, the finale of ’Everything Burns’ happened. I was underwhelmed. Which was a shame – it should have ended the arc with a bang. Instead it lacked the gut-punch of the previous issues, didn’t read smoothly, and, while I am not opposed to Leah and Loki having a snog, I felt Leah was way too nice in this issue.

I know it was a stressful situation, but she’s always been sharper before. I’m not sure if this is meant to be development, or if story!Leah is different in this way from handmaiden!Leah … it just felt a little off.

Oh well. Next for Loki: the final issue of Gillen’s run on Journey into Mystery. I’m preparing to have my heart ripped out.

Hawkeye #3, Matt Fraction + David Aja, Matt Hollingsworth

Hawkeye was also a bit confusing (also by Fraction!), because it jumped around in time some … but it’s so stylish I can’t hold such a small thing against it. I cannot even describe how much I love the art for this comic. I’ll just have to stick in a bunch of scans instead.

Panel showing Clint leaping out of bed in the nud! With a strategically placed Hawkeye-icon over the interesting bits.

 I enjoy Clint’s POV a lot too. He’s impossible not to like – a good guy, a little scattered in a very human way, a hero still with his enthusiasm intact. Also, he properly appreciates how awesome my girl Kate is. (So awesome. He’d be lost without her, natch.)

Panel showing Clint with a gun pointed at him – and Kate with an arrow pointed right back at the gunman.

I’m also intrigued by the redhead! Hopefully more will be revealed next issue …

Series of panels showing Clint talking to the redhead. ‘See?’ he says. ‘Look at how great you are. Why on earth would anybody want to kill you?’ She answers, ‘Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. ‘Okay,’ Clint says, ‘now I want to kind of kill you a little bit.’

The types I go for

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Movies, Superhero with tags , , on May 21, 2012 by Cara Marie

So I was thinking about the unlikely circumstance that movie!Loki got redeemed. ‘Well, he’d have to feel awful,’ I thought. ‘I can’t see it happening.’

And then I had a flashback to Ken weeping over Wormon in Digimon (back in the day) and suddenly it all became clear. Of course Loki is my favourite, because I have always had a massive thing for villains with a giant inferiority complex. (Ignoring that, well, Loki is my favourite in the myths too, because it’s not like they have a whole lot to do with one another.)

Usually it’s a clash of geniuses – Ken was smart but his brother was always smarter, Mello was but Near was always more so, Peter was, but Ender was the one they picked, wasn’t he?

Whereas Loki is smart and his brother is not so much – but still, it’s what Thor’s got that the family values, and Loki’s skills mean little next to that. In his mind, if not necessarily in fact. We know he tells his story the way he wants it.

Here’s another example, and it’s even got Vikings in it: Juliet Marillier’s Wolfskin. Two boys, blood-brothers (one’s a fosterling, and we can start with the inferiority there): Somerled, who is small and dark and bookish; and Eyvind, who is everything a warrior should be, one of Thor’s men, and a truly good person to boot. Whereas Somerled is full of frustrated ambition, and not so full of compunctions.

God, I loved that book. I should really reread it, but then, I have to be prepared to weep bitterly. I cry easily with my fiction, but that book is something else. It is worse than the saddest episode of Cold Case.

And at the end of the book, Somerled is exiled, set out in a small craft into the vastness of the ocean.

The parallels are kind of amazing.

And Somerled does get redeemed in the sequel, when we see him as an old man and he’s converted to Christianity.

(I did not like the sequel so much.)

Somehow I don’t see that as an option for Loki.

And when he was cast down (when he chose to fall) … well, I don’t think his experiences since have improved him any.

Less respectable but more fun Norse-inspired comics

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Superhero with tags , on April 28, 2012 by Cara Marie

I bought a bunch of random trades at our recent sci-fi convention, including The Trials of Loki by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Which is great – way better than Robert Rodi’s Loki miniseries which is a bit too ‘no-one understands me’ for my taste, also not always so easy to follow. Also far better than the DeConnick oneshot that covers some of the same material, like the shaving of Sif’s hair. The story gets more time to breathe.

Basically, this is the binding of Loki and that which lead to it, retold in the Marvel-verse. It feels cozily familiar. And unlike some Marvel stuff, the places this story does depart from the myths don’t feel egrigeous. And have as much to do with the differences in established canon as anything.

I also found it actually made me feel sympathetic to Balder, moreso than the myths ever have – I guess that’s the difference between telling and showing, there.

One change that did make me sad was to not have Sigyn there in the binding scene (not that I know anything about her in the Marvel-verse). And not having the whole one-son-tearing-out-the-other’s-entrails-to-bind-him thing. Which I’m fond of, awful as it is.

But this was a really solid miniseries. I especially liked the fight scene between Thor and Loki, where Loki’s using his shapeshifting to make it an even fight. (I was a little annoyed in the Avengers when Loki was holding his own against Thor in a close range fight. Without magic. This was more believable and more satisfying.)

Also, when we saw Loki engineering Balder’s death, I liked the sense that it wasn’t so much a malicious act, but a curious one. Gods don’t die much, so what happens once you start that ball rolling? When one death becomes three becomes now you have something to get revenge for, even what was your own fault.

I thought it was a really interesting portrayal of Loki, without making him not a villain, or playing up the angst. And I would recommend it.

Sometimes alternative canons grate

Posted in Comics with tags , , on February 4, 2012 by Cara Marie

Okay, I know the comics don’t equal the mythology. But. Since when does Heimdall see the future? Why is Freya, who is a witch and most likely a seeress, asking him for assistance? If she had to ask someone, there are a billion seeresses and seers in Norse mythology. Who aren’t Heimdall.

I like the All-mothers better in Journey into Mystery when they’re schooling Loki not to use sexist language. (That’s not fair. I like everything better in Journey into Mystery. And maybe Heimdall has been a seer for ages in the Thor comics. Just. Sometimes it is hard.)

Avengers Origins: Thor

Posted in Comics, Superhero with tags , , , , on January 9, 2012 by Cara Marie

Written by Kathryn Immonen, pencils by Al Barrionuevo

I know this series of one-shots is called ‘Avengers Origins’, but I was really hoping for Thor and Loki’s wacky teenage hi-jinks for this, not an Origin Story with a capital O. The sale material had led me to expect hi-jinks! So I was disappointed in that regard.

But then it had to add to the offense by just not being very good.

The structure is incoherent. At one point I was flicking back pages to make sure I hadn’t missed anything – quite a bit of the comic is about Thor (and Loki’s) relationship with Sif, and Sif being kidnapped is the fulcrum of Thor’s origin here. But we go from Thor intending to rescue Sif to ‘and then Thor ran around the nine realms killing things’ without actually seeing any details of the rescue, or the two interacting afterwards.

I felt sure I’d missed something, but no. Instead of going on to complete a story about Thor and Sif, the comic goes on to a speedy recap of Thor’s whole origin story (getting banished and so on). The pacing is all off, and instead of feeling like a whole, satisfying story, it feels like a mess.

The other thing that bothered me about this comic was Thor being sent to get treasures from the dwarves, because it takes a story I really like and then removes all the good bits. That is, the very motivation (Loki trying to cover his arse), the reason why Loki tries to stuff up the dwarves’ progress (in the comics, it’s to make Thor fail; in the mythology, it’s so he doesn’t have to pay up if the dwarves win the the bet), and the fantastic ending where Loki says he offered his head to the dwarves if they won, but he didn’t say anything about his neck, so the dwarves sew his lips shut instead and leave pissed off. Such a fitting punishment for the liesmith!

It takes those things away, all the character and the humour, and gives us something altogether less interesting. I know that the Marvel characters don’t always have much to do with the gods, but dammit, they shouldn’t be serving up such a bland retelling!

The only thing Immonen’s added to the story is a motivation for Loki’s shearing off Sif’s hair in the first place – it’s for a spell to make Sif fall in love with someone other than Thor (are we to assume Loki himself?) There’s no explanation for that act in the mythology (I personally subscribe to the ‘calling her an adulterer’ theory :D).

And I guess that illustrates the difference between mythology!Loki and comics!Loki. Mythology!Loki motivations are generally:

  1. Getting himself and/or the other gods out of trouble
  2. For the hell of it.

And comics!Loki’s motivations are generally:

  1. Villainy!
  2. Because he’s so jealous of Thor and everyone hates him.

Which has its appeals too, but in this instance it just means the story’s way less fun. (This is probably why I like Gillen’s kid!Loki so much: he seems to be drawing more on the mythological Loki.) And that on top of everything else wrong makes me wish I hadn’ t bothered with this issue.

Thor, Journey into Mystery, and Wolverine and the X-Men

Posted in Comics, Fantasy, Middle fiction, Superhero with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2011 by Cara Marie

Thor: The World Eaters

Matt Fraction and Pasqual Ferry

This was rather underwhelming. If Asgard is now on earth, what is in Asgard’s place? I like the idea, and I can see what it was going for – but it didn’t have nearly the length to develop it. This is a seven-issue arc, and it really needs, oh, twice that. More time on the bit players and the exodus from the other realms. A greater sense of dread.

On the other hand, it does introduce kid!Loki, who is totally my fav.

Journey into Mystery c. #632

Kieron Gillen and various artists

I feel this is just getting into its stride. I’ve loved it from the start, but I feel like having to tie into Fear Itself – and having quite important character stuff appear offscreen, in The Mighty Thor – meant it didn’t sit together as well as it could.

But it seems to read smoother now, having found the right tone. And Gillen is happy to spend issues with characters other than Loki – Volstagg telling Thor’s death to his children I especially like (Gillen just writes awesome Volstagg in general).

This issue is a light one, though it is still replete with how much of an outsider Loki is. And his determined cheer in the face of that. He and Leah make a great team.

'Oh, such dainty words,' Leah says. 'I feel something move, deep within me.' She proceeds to knee Loki in the groin, saying 'Vomit or bile, I'd wager.'

From issue 625, pencils by Doug Braithwaite, colours by Ulises Arreola.

Okay, not always. I love how, when Loki first encounters Leah, he tries to charm her with flattery. After she tells him to shove it, he moves to insulting her delightedly.

'You are a wonderful woman, Leah,' Loki says, 'Weave your magic and, assuming survival, I'll commission statues in your honour. And I'll make sure the sculptor makes a flattering one, disguising that hideously distended chin.'

Issue 629, pencils by Whilce Portacio, inks by Allen Martinez, colours by Arif Prianto and Jessica Kholinne.

More recently he has decided they are to be BFFs. Which Leah is not so happy with. Being as she’s living in a ‘dirty great hole in the ground’. But also, how much do I love Loki’s priorities when he talks about outfitting it for her. All the important things, ‘rugs and bedding and food and books’. Anyway. I will be most excited to see this friendship resolve itself!

Artwise, it’s varied quite a bit … Whilce Portacio I don’t like, I don’t like the character’s faces or the scratchy inkwork that goes with it. It probably doesn’t help coming after Doug Braithwaite either, who I think is awesome.

The latest issue is Mitch Breitweiser, who I do like and would be happy to see stick around. Although he may just be for the one issue. His style reminds me of old children’s illustrations, which works really well for this Yuletide issue. Also just the characters look like themselves and the right age.

This is my favourite comic coming out at the moment, and I hope it sticks around a long time to come.

Wolverine and the X-Men

Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo

I read the first two issues, but was not really pulled in. I find the art overly stylised and the layouts hard to follow. (I feel like I’m getting lazier when it comes to reading comics, by which I mean I expect the artists to do more of the work and actually think about how the eye is meant to move across the page, dammit.)

Reading a preview from issue four, I was sorry to read some of Idie’s dialogue, which just didn’t sound like the Idie I was reading in Generation Hope. Which makes me sad, because I liked Idie – I know a lot of people found her annoying – but it’s upsetting to see her moved into a new book, where she should have the chance to develop as a character (in a more positive environment) but instead she’s just changed into someone else. Someone easier. It’s like the writer read her dossier but didn’t look at her actual portrayal. So I don’t think I’ll bother keeping on with this.

Still reading all the comics

Posted in Action/adventure, Comics, Fantasy, Superhero with tags , , , , on July 10, 2011 by Cara Marie

As I now have Kieron Gillen’s Journey Into Mystery on standing order, I thought I would go back and read some of the older Thor comics. Most recently, I have read the first volume of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Thor. I’m not completely in love, but I’m interested.

A panel of Don Blake sitting in a diner, light streaming in the windows. It feels like the sun is low in the sky, and the light is very hot and clear.

I mostly really like the art, which is penciled by Olivier Coipel, inked by Mark Morales. The exception being I really don’t like Thor’s face (she says shallowly). But the colours are what really make it for me. Laura Martin’s work here is excellent – the skyscapes especially are lovely (well, it is a comic about a thunder god!) – and I find the colours really evocative. They give each scene a strong sense of place.

In a pleasing coincidence, the day after I read this, Fantastic Fangirls did a discussion post on it (Part One and Part Two). That’s almost as good as being able to read the letters pages in old comics! And I agree with a lot of what they say, particularly being uncomfortable with the New Orleans/(imaginary country in) Africa issues. The story wasn’t unaware of the potential skeeviness, but I don’t know that the balance was quite right.

As someone who would consider myself a new ‘reader’, I found it interesting when Caroline commented that “JMS is building this story that is supposed to reinvent Thor for a new era, and three issues in the momentum comes to a screeching halt so that [Thor and Iron Man] can argue about something that happened in a different series and was stupid anyway … the Iron Man scene feels out of place here. This should be a book that I want to hand to a new reader, but that part makes me hesitate.”

I’ve never read Civil War, but somehow I’ve managed to absorb enough that I know roughly what went down, and the scene with Iron Man actually worked with me. It felt partly like a breaking of the status quo: maybe things worked one way before, but things have changed, and this isn’t the comic it used to be. Whatever that was!

I was more confused by the relationship between Don Blake and Thor, and what that meant with regards to the other gods whose souls had been hiding in humans. When Thor woke up the other gods, I assumed that their relationship with the host would be the same as the Don/Thor one. Except you never see the people again. And I couldn’t figure out why we didn’t see them swapping too, and it put me off to think that the gods’ desires would automatically trump the humans’, that they would run off to Asgard and leave these people’s lives and families behind.

So it was quite a relief when I realised that Thor was the only one who switched between forms, and that the other gods came out their hosts and left them behind. But we were four gods in before this was clear!

I am looking forward to seeing how Thor gets Sif back, and I think Straczynski did a good job of making her a strong presence even though she’s not actually there. Also I am bad and enjoy seeing Loki gallivanting about in her body, so, um, may there be lots of that too.

Digest-sized awesome

Posted in Action/adventure, Comedy, Comics, Middle fiction, Superhero, Young adult with tags , , , , , , on July 2, 2011 by Cara Marie

So I have been achieving very little outside of work lately. But I have managed to read a great deal of comics. Some of the ones I’ve enjoyed most have been the little digest-sized collections put out by Marvel: X-Men: First Class, Wolverine: First Class and Thor: The Mighty Avenger. They’re low on angst, high on adorability.

X-Men: First Class I find quite interesting because of the ways it deals with the limitations of its source. The series is pitched as untold stories from the original X-Men comics, which is Marvel Girl, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman and Angel. The other character in every issue is Professor Xavier: so you’ve got one female character against five male ones.

And First Class is aware of this, and it finds ways to show f-f relationships anyway. Probably my favourite issue was one where Jean is trying to use her powers to fly: she’s been practicing in secret, and when the boys find out, things get frustrating. (This made me feel very fond of her, because I don’t like people seeing me trying new things either.)

So, Prof X is like, well, it must be tough for Jean, being stuck with all these annoying boys and no female mentors. Let’s send her to go hang out with Sue Storm!

Jean is pretty psyched about this, and she and Sue have some good bonding time, and some ass-kicking time, and the boys are convinced Jean’s going to leave them and go make it the Fantastic Five. It’s totally charming.

No, actually. They fight crime.There are also these little side-strips, illustrated by Colleen Coover. which they’ve reprinted at the end of the digests. Some of these are making fun of Magneto. Some of them are about the adventures of Marvel Girl and the Scarlet Witch. Together they solve crime!

Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, appears in some of the other issues, and immediately became my favourite. I sadly do not think I will find much else with her and Jean being buddies.

(No crime-fighting, but here is another one of the strips, with Jean and Xavier using their psychic powers for hilarity.)

I love school stories, so these are more satisfying to me than a lot of the other superhero comics I have been reading. Part of it’s the positivity: they are learning to be the most awesome people they can be! There is a story in Wolverine: First Class where Kitty and Logan are investigating a mutant presence: they end up being attacked by the townspeople. “Th-they’re not making any sense …” Kitty says, and Logan says, “Fear does that to people. Whatever mutant presence Charlie sent us to run down has scared the sense right out of ’em.”

Kity looks at a photo of a mutant girl with white skin and hair, elven ears, and pupilless eyes, dressed up for prom and holding the arm of an ordinary-looking young man. The photo has been smashed, as has the next one we see Kitty holding: the girl with her football team. The narrative text reads: 'This girl--clearly a mutant--didn't look like she lived in a town filled with prejudice. In fact, it looked like this tiny town completely embraced her strangeness, in a way tiny towns sometimes do. So what happened? What changed? How could everything have gone so horribly wrong so horrible fast ... unless ...'But this is not a story about how it sucks to be a mutant (though obviously peoples’ fear of mutants forms a backdrop). Kitty ends up in the house of the girl they’ve come looking for. There, the evidence is clear that her community has not been driven mad by fear, and that something else is going on.

Which was quite nice after House of M.

Wolverine: First Class is basically all about Kitty saving the day. And also being a teenage girl. The second story has Kitty trying to convince Logan he wants to chauffuer her and her friends to see the amazing *Dazzler*. Begging and cajoling doesn’t work, so she throws him a special surprise party and arranges him a date with his lady friend Mariko. This rather gets spoiled when some guy from Logan’s past turns up. There’s some fighting, then said evil guy then tells Logan he has to choose between saving Kitty and saving Mariko. Hmm.

Logan chooses Mariko, because of course Kitty can get herself out of anything, but as it turns out, by the time the men have finished their scrapping, Kitty has already saved her. See, evil guy, maybe Logan will never transcend your skills in beating people up, but at least he has an awesome student.

After that Logan really has no choice but to play chauffuer.

Kitty is fantastic in this, and the part of me that loved her in the cartoon as a kid feels redeemed against all the other, blander versions of her I’ve seen. She feels realistically young, without being annoyingly so, and the teenage squabbles are countered by the adorableness. Despite Wolverine’s name in the title, Kitty’s the star of the show.

(I still don’t get her crush on Piotr though.)

But the most charming digest of them all is Thor: The Mighty Avenger. A lot of this is to do with the art, I feel – there’s something very appealing about the inking, and the simplicity of the style.Jane looks all concernedly at Thor, before saying, 'I ... I don't know if you want to hear this ... but this is my world, and I'm sort of ... fond of it. Thing is ... right now, this is your world too.' With amazing pictures!There are fights and things, people to be rescued (and sometimes it is Thor that needs to be rescued), but the heart of the comic is the relationship between Thor and Jane, and the ways in which Thor comes to love Earth.

There are two volumes of Thor: The Might Avenger – I’ve read the second one, and I’m waiting for the first. It’s just such a warm-hearted comic. Because it’s an AU from the rest of the Marvel universe, it’s easy to rec to people too; it might crossover with characters from other titles, but it’s still very self-contained.