Yesterday, we delved slightly into the monster that The Avengers has become. From the billion-dollar movie franchise that has just benefited both Marvel Comics and Disney. Gigantic conglomerations aside, it also brought some well deserved recognition to the comics side of things. It seemed that people had forgotten that these stories, that captivate imaginations and force cheers of excitement, come from a never ending wonderland called “comic books”.
So, both of Marvel’s new Avengers series, “The Avengers” and “Uncanny Avengers” carve out their own niche and style. As far as series created to bring in new readers, these two definitely succeeded. Worth every penny to check out.
What about the smaller scale, though? The Avengers in comics were banded together to stop the threats that no single one of them could handle. So, like the movie, threats that need all of the big Avengers are relegated to the Avengers books. They are big. Loud. Massive. Everything a super team book should be.
The more intimate, quieter tales, though, are in those characters individual stories. And thanks to the Marvel NOW! initiative, they are better than ever. For today, we focus in on two heroes.
Thor and The Hulk.
Two heroes that, thanks to the recent movie series, have gained a massive bump in popularity.
For anyone unfamiliar with the themes of Thor and Dr. Bruce Banner and his alter ego, The Hulk, I’ll do my best to lay them out quickly so we can get to each of their awesome new series.
For Thor, any good run on the character has always tried to tow the line between godhood and humanity. Years ago, Dr. Donald Blake found the hammer, Mjolnir, in a cave. Putting it to the ground, he learned to channel the power of the Norse god, Thor, and used his powers to fight evil, both mortal and godlike.
Now, they left this piece out of the movie. There was no human side to Thor, just the god. The only acknowledgement they made in the movie was a name-tag that had the name “Donald Blake” on it. However, they still did their best to show how gods interact with humans.
Thor smashing his coffee mug in the diner to demand more was proof enough.
As for Dr. Bruce Banner and his alter ego, The Hulk, their story is simple. A scientist was caught in a Gamma Bomb explosion, irradiating him. Now, whenever he gets angry, the monster is unleashed and Br. Banner transforms into The Hulk, the unstoppable rage machine.
The Hulk has always been a representation of our anger, yearning to be let out. Now, The Hulk has not always had the best time with movies. The Ed Norton one, part of The Avengers series, was their best attempt. However, when Mark Ruffalo took over the role, he nailed the cynicism and hopelessness that comes along with the role. It was perfect, is what it was.
So, what do the comics hold for these two freshly minted stars?
Marvel NOW! makes them the stars front and center with two of the best series that I have read this year.
Title: Indestructible Hulk
Author: Mark Waid
Artist: Leinil Yu
Issues Released so Far: 2
Bruce Banner has had a tough life, and transforming into an unstoppable killing machine has not helped him much.
Taking a small cue from the movies, author Mark Waid has decided that Bruce Banner has had enough wandering around from place to place, living in the desert and staying in run down motels.
Being one of the smartest men in the world, Bruce Banner makes the conscious choice to do something worthwhile with his intellect. He presents himself to S.H.I.E.L.D., the big Samuel L. Jackson corporation, and says he will invent for them. Anything. Starting with a machine that could eliminate all waterborne disease in the next five years.
Author Waid presents to us a man wanting to fight against what he is. Admirable as it is, that is not what anyone reads a Hulk comic book for. They read it for the smashing. And we are given that in great amounts in the first issue alone.
I’ve talked about Leinil Yu before, and his artwork does not disappoint here. Presented in scratchy, detailed line work, we are given a Hulk that appears as powerful as he does intimidating.
What’s Bruce Banner’s second endeavor? Going toe-to-toe with Tony Stark. Brain to Brain. Armor to Fist.
All in all, this series has given us a lot of fun moments and made me reconsider how the Hulk should be handled.
Just when I thought he should merely be the big guy that smashes things then runs away, I reconsider that everyone should be given a second chance.
Title: Thor, God of Thunder
Author: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic
Issues Released so Far: 4, as of yesterday
The wonderful thing that I have noticed about Marvel NOW! is that it seems that Marvel is giving their creators free reign to create some iconic, original stories. Even though many of these characters are attached to larger franchises and action figures, Marvel is holding true to telling creative and non-conforming stories.
Jason Aaron plans on telling tales of the God of Thunder over the period of thousands of years. Being a god and all, Thor has lived for many millennia. While we may only know the Thor of this time, but what about Thor in the past, fighting with Vikings? Or the Thor thousands of years in the future, long after the time of super heroes? It is thought provoking in a positive light, to be sure.
A butcher has been slaughtering the gods. Not just the gods of Earth, the gods of the universe. In a mystery spanning years, Jason Aaron presents to us a story in three parts.
Recently, my comics reading time has become whatever I can read in a 30 minute time frame. As much as I wish I could spend hours poring over comic books, examining every detail of the story and the artwork.
Artist Esad Ribic does the best work of his life here and, purposefully, I decided to slow myself down. His line-work and colors are beautiful, some of the best of the year. Presenting otherworldly places and amazing god wars, this is the book to read.
I spent more time on these than I have any other comic in my recent history. We are presented a story worthy of the god himself.
Next Time: There’s a new Spider-Man. And it’s not Peter Parker. See what all the fuss is about when you meet the Superior Spider-Man!
In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. He recommends each and every comic he writes about.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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