I'm in the middle of the second part of my big move, this time going from Chicago to Austin, TX, my final destination and my home for the foreseeable future. Tonight, I'm in Joplin, Missouri, and I didn't fall asleep right away after an almost ten hour drive, leaving me some time to catch up on my books. Among the lot of good stuff that came out on Wednesday was the last issue of the first arc of Jason Aaron's Thor: God of Thunder; although I was suspicious about this title's potential when it was announced, my fears were quickly assuaged. Aaron is a very talented storyteller, and one with many hats, and Esad Ribic shook off some trouble with facial expressions at the starting line, becoming one of the better Frank Frazetta-influenced comics illustrators I've ever seen.
As the books that were relaunched as part of Marvel!NOW begin to reach their first birthdays, its been interesting to me thinking about their relative success or failure, in light of the creative failure of DC's New 52 initiative, which is now almost two. Whereas DC reinvented their characters and their universe, they didn't really do anything interesting or exciting with their talent pool. Mostly they just shuffled around some creators to see what stuck. To a certain extent, Marvel did the same thing with Marvel!NOW-- they just did a better job of it. Putting Jason Aaron on Thor was an inspired move; he was willing to separate the character from the very good, although somewhat onerous, past few years of story, which freed him to write a very, very good book. Aaron's Thor is dark fairytale about what it means to be a god and whether or not gods are good. What he ends up suggesting, at least in passing, is that people need things to believe in and that gods, good or bad, are as good a thing as any. In other words, its just the sort of pop-philosophy that makes Marvel so great, done in the high adventure/sci-fi combo that Thor is just right for.
This is exactly why Marvel!NOW worked where the New 52 seems to have failed; Marvel gave me a reason to give their new stuff a try, reinventing old ideas rather than recycling them, while DC seemed to be trying to make me take a pass. This isn't to say that the books are uniformly better at Marvel right now than they are at DC, just that, a year on from the relaunch, the House of Ideas is at the high point of a recent creative resurgence. Aaron and Ribic seem like a good bet to keep it going; let's hope the rest of the publisher's good books can, too.