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Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson, Vol. 1 by…
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Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson, Vol. 1

by Walter Simonson

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1315141,321 (4.15)5
Continues the adventures of Thor, a Norse thunder god, who is torn between his original home, Asgard, and Earth, his adopted home.

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Showing 5 of 5
Simonson continues the intricate and well developed story line he begins in the first volume and introduces a few surprises as the forces of Asgard battle an eternal who can bring the nine realms to an end. The return of Beta Ray Bill and the epic battle for Asgard and Midgard along with plot twists, betrayals, and sacrifice lead frame by frame to a tantalizing ending. The art is good and augments a great story. ( )
  Al-G | Apr 20, 2018 |
Simonson and company breathe new life into one of the classic Marvel characters giving Thor not just a face lift but a new direction with a compelling story and great artwork. Beta Ray Bill, the return of Malekith, Loki, Lorelei, Balder, Lady Sif, and of course Odin and a mysterious character from another dimension offer plot complexities as well as side stories and plot twists that make the reader want more. This one ends way too soon - on to volume 2! ( )
  Al-G | Mar 30, 2018 |
There are three stand-out runs from combined writer/artist creators in the 80s Marvel Universe. Frank Miller's Daredevil, John Byrne's Fantastic Four, and Walt Simonson's Thor. Of the three, Thor was always my least favourite. Then again, Thor is also my least favourite character of the original 60s Marvel headliners. I admire what Stan did, bringing Norse mythology and cod Shakespearian dialogue into a universe largely populated by science heroes, but as a kid I'd have found myself hard-pressed to find any character I was less likely to relate to. (Apart from Superman.)

That said, Simonson's Thor was revolutionary for a number of reasons, and not just his highly stylised art which looked like nothing else Marvel was publishing at the time. He was also allowed to take a number of exciting risks with the character that hadn't been done before and probably wouldn't have been allowed had the book's sales not been in the dumper. Replacing the title character with a cow-faced alien (Beta Ray Bill) was just the first, and it's a trick that's been used hundreds of times since with everybody from Captain America to Green Lantern to Batman, Superman and Spider-Man getting booted out of their own books in favour of some short-lived imposter... though never one who looked quite so much like Ermintrude from the Magic Roundabout. In later issues, Simonson would even turn Thor into a frog... but that'll be covered in later volumes. For now, let's look at how it all began...

The most memorable storyline featured here - beyond Thor's replacement by Beta Ray Bill (which seemed to go on much longer when I was a kid but is actually wrapped up in a couple of issues) is the subplot featuring the creation of a mighty sword to be wielded by the fire demon Surtur. Every issue features at least a page of a mysterious blacksmith hammering this all-powerful weapon into shape, accompanied by the ominous, universe-echoing sound effect "DOOM!" (Great work from letterer John Workman, whose style compliments Simonson's extremely well.) Contrary to the speed of the Beta Ray Bill wrap-up, I was surprised by just how long this subplot continued - there are 12 issues collected here, the first few pages open with the weapon being forged... and the book closes with Surtur finally wielding his sword, ready to take action. A whole year in preparation... the fight that followed must have been epic... but again, I'll have to wait for volume 2 to discuss that.

Read the full review ( )
  rolhirst | May 10, 2011 |
Some friends were recently discussing how this series is a highlight of both Simonson's career and of the Thor title so I decided to try it.

The art was less distinctively Simonson than it is today, which was disappointing but not surprising. It's still quite good, of course, especially for being from the 80s. Often in books from this era, the hair and clothing styles are distractingly dated, but Simonson kept things more generic. And the coloring is much better than your average 80s book from DC. But the visual highlight is the lettering, which always comes into its own when mystical or cosmic elements are involved. There are some wonderful panel-crowding sound effects, especially when swords are involved. The choice for bullets was a little strange, though. I understood what Workman was trying for but it didn't quite work. Very creative, though.

The story itself is less compelling. Fine, but nothing exceptional. The classic Thor-speak is toned down to a coherent level but not so far that the gods sound like mere mortals. Demons streaming from a portal is a remarkably common effect in comics but it's possible this was one of the first instances. There were some inconsistencies, like characters wearing safety goggles to visit a dwarven forge but heading out into space with no protection at all just a few pages later. Or a hammer emerging from that same forge with the leather wrist strap already in place (in multiple panels). And -- mild spoiler -- over all the centuries, no one ever used an iron weapon against the Wild Hunt?? I did enjoy the three-part expository sequence designed to show us that the villain was left-handed though. Over the top but fun. Also loved the DC crossover joke of course.

I'd always assumed from the design that Beta Ray Bill was a Gerber-type parody character but he's actually quite serious. Which makes me question the wisdom of the design.

The story jumps around a *lot* among four to six threads at any time, with only a couple pages before each switch, but I didn't have a problem with that. ( )
  kristenn | Jul 3, 2010 |
I don't get what's supposed to be so great about Simonson's art, and the whole Beta Ray Bill deal is kind of limp (although I guess this isn't the entirety of his story), but the rest of this is pure pop art awesome. Not Norse myth, not guest appearances by Daredevil - just a perfect integration of the spirit of our ancientest stories with the best of American fantasy. And when Surtur pops up, finally, on the very last page, you're like OH GOD HOW CAN YOU LEAVE US HANGING LIKE THIS, which is the sign of a good yarn I'd say. The Thor movie people could really do worse than to consult this. ( )
  MeditationesMartini | Feb 3, 2009 |
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