Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Title: Thor: Son of Asgard Ultimate Collection
Writer: Akira Yoshida
Artist: Greg Tocchini
Review by Derek Halliday
What is it About?
In the distant past, a young Thor struggles with being an Asgardian teenager, living in the shadow of his powerful Father, Odin, and his legacy. Along with his friends, the tomboyish Sif, and the cunning and brave Balder, Thor sets out on a journey to learn how to what it means to be 'worthy.'
Why is it Good?
Son of Asgard was done during Marvel's first big push to create a line of Young Adult books back around 2006 or so, and was probably one of the more successful... in concept and execution, if not in sales. With solid art and solid writing, Son of Asgard is, in execution, pretty close to the Shonen Manga paradigm (probably due to the influence of its Japanese writer). It features a young, unsure, protagonist who sets on the Hero's Journey. Each issues features the small cast of characters working together to overcome a trial, and learning a lesson in the doing, while progressing the overall arc, which sees them apply what they've learned to a larger crisis, growing as characters and heroes as they do. The two story arcs contained in this collection encompass the entirety of the run, and ties the narrative up neatly with Thor growing to become the hero we know from Marvel proper. Greg Tocchini's art is lively, loose, and expressive, with lush, detailed, backgrounds that help set the grand, epic, scale of the mythological world in which the story takes place. Unlike a some artists, he's quite skilled at drawing believable teenagers, who are fit, young, and attractive looking, rather than muscular midgets, something that's always bothered me a lot in comics featuring teenage protagonists. Akira Yoshida's writing is tightly scripted, clever, and engaging, and more character than plot driven. Young Thor goes through growing pains, struggling with the expectations placed upon him; young and cocky, with a youthful swagger, he rushes recklessly into action, while Balder and Sif preach restraint and thinking before he acts. Young Thor and Sif slowly develop an awkward relationship as they move from being friends and sparring partners to potential love interests... a particularly favorite issue of mine involves Thor falling under the spell of a young Enchantress, which forces Sif to confront her own feelings towards Thor, and how he might feel towards her.
Thor: Son of Asgard was a sadly overlooked, and in my mind, successful, attempt at doing a Young Adult book using a mainstream Marvel character, that has broad appeal to both new readers and older fans of the character. I'm glad that it was put back in print in this full sized format (it was originally collected in two digest sized trades), and in its entirety.
You can find Thor: Son of Asgard in store at The Beguiling, or you can buy it online at beguiling.com.