It used to be that I thought Thor wasn't very interesting. I used to believe that the most compelling superheroes were those with whom we could identify, those that we see ourselves as. This is a variation on the oft-stated opinion that Batman is the most compelling super-hero because he doesn't actually have any super-powers (which, incidentally, is untrue: Batman's superpower is being as rich as God. I suppose the argument might work with Nightwing, or maybe a character like Hawkeye or Green Arrow but in the context of what I'm about to say and recent events its mostly a moot point).
Both of those suppositions are wrong*.
The latter is wrong mostly because no-one says it about Iron Man (who is a much better Marvel analogue to Batman than Moon Knight, mostly because the basic character type is the same). The reason that no-one makes this argument on Tony Stark's behalf is that, mostly, Tony isn't as interesting as Bruce Wayne, because his hook isn't nearly as fantastic. Iron Man really is just a dude with a lot of money and training; Batman is a dude with lots of money and training whose parents were killed by criminals, scarring him into becoming a psychopath, albeit an awesome one.
I discovered that the former isn't true because of J. Michael Straczynski's run on Thor. I love JMS's Thor. I love it so much that I'm willing to throw out one of my core beliefs about what makes a good superhero concept simply on the basis of a series that I've been reading backwards, from #602 back to #8 (which is far, far less impressive than it sounds, considering the renumbering). I love it so much, in fact, that I have since bought (and fallen in love with) Matt Fraction's Thor One-Shots**, and some Walter Simonson Thor issues out of a fifty-ceny bin.
So, basically, Thor is by far one of the best superhero comics being released at the moment. The problem is, of course, that I have to use a term like "released" loosely, because the timeline between issues seems to roughly consist of forever, and this is extremely frustrating.
Unfortunately, JMS is leaving Thor, apparently beacuse of the big upcoming "Siege of Asgard" event referenced here. Rich Johnston has a couple theories about what this might be, here and here, and although the former has been discredited, the latter seems to be within the realm of possibillity.
That is, until one considers that the most recently announced Marvel Event is called Assault on New Olympus, which sounds sort of similair to "Siege of Asgard" insofar as it involves attacking a new representation of an old home for ancient gods. Now, Marvel is sort of notorius for appropriating ideas from elsewhere (take that Identity Disc miniseries from a few years back or the upcoming Necrosha event, which is basically Blackest Night featuring mutants) but stealing from yourself is a little absurd, even for the House of Ideas.
So, True Believers, the question is this: Is it Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente who are going to bring the God of Thunder back into the Marvel U. proper? Will it be Bendis and Copiel, as Rich proposes? Or is it something else entirely?
For what it's worth, my allowance is on the first option: given both Herc's status as a former Thor supporting character and Amadeus's previous history with helping out heroes in need, as well as the title similarities pointed out above, and the dots seem to connect in all the right places. Still, the second option isn't inconcievable and (despite my modest bashing of Bendis earlier this week) would probably be quite wonderful.
Whatever happens, I'm excited to see where Thor goes- although JMS's issues were so few and far-between, he concocted a great setup for the next guy, and I can only hope that that guy is someone equally as talented.
*This is a sweeping generalization- the kind I should have learned my lesson about with the sweeping generalization made in the introduction- and, as is usually true of such statements, it is incomplete. There are two sets of comics characters who are compelling because they are identifiable, and a third who sort of fits the bill. The first two, are, of course, the X-Men and (if my limited knowledge is correct) The Doom Patrol, both of which are made of heroes both hated by humanity and sworn to protect them. Spider-Man sort of fits the bill, except I suspect we like Peter Parker mostly because we like him, not because we feel like we are him.
**Now, Fraction's work makes me suspect that my first sweeping generalization wasn't so wrong after all- what he makes clear is that Thor exists as we know him in the Marvel comics because he was flawed. Thor was, essentially, cursed to be bound with a mortal because he was a holier-than-thou ass, which rubbed Odin the wrong way. Perhaps if the sweeping generalization is modified into "The only heroes that aren't compelling are those heroes that aren't flawed" which would, of course, mean that Superman may be the least interesting cape of all time- as near as I can tell (despite attempts by people like Brian Azzarello, who's Superman run is fantastic) Supe's only flaw is that he's got this moral code that no one can live up to but him, which maybe the least realistic flaw of all-time. I have no problem with suspension of disbelief (I am blogging about comics, after all), but that's just absurd.