Thor Omnibus, written by J. Michael Straczynski, illustrated by Mike Deodato, Olivier Coipel and Marko Djurdjevic (2007-2010, collected 2010): This omnibus collects all of J. Michael Straczynski’s (JMS) run on Marvel’s Thor, including the initial ‘return of Thor’s hammer Mjolnir’ storyline from JMS’s run on Fantastic Four. Three years prior to the JMS Thor reboot, Ragnarok/Gotterdammerung had arrived (yet again) for Marvel’s version of the Norse gods, and all of them seemingly perished. But as Algis Budrys once said about science fiction (“In science fiction, death is always conditional”), I can say about super-hero comics: no one ever stays dead forever.
JMS’s two-year stint on Thor ended fairly abruptly when he moved completely over to DC. This is not necessarily a bad thing. His lengthy stint on Spider-man got progressively more and more loopy the longer he stayed on the book. Here, while he leaves before any ‘complete’ dramatic resolution, he also leaves the book rebooted in an extremely successful and (hopefully) durable way. All the toys are put back on the table for someone else to play with, and a lot of excess continuity baggage gets thrown out. It’s actually almost a model other writers could follow to rejuvenate other superheroes who’ve worn out their welcome, a model writers used to follow back in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s before continuity came to trump all. JMS even managed to give the always-dubious Volstagg a couple of heroic moments, which is not all that easy a thing to do.
The art by Olivier Coipel and Marko Djurdjevic is pleasing throughout, though the depiction of Norse fire-demon Surtur here literalizes him as a fairly traditional Western demon/devil, and thus fails compared to Walt Simonson’s more stylized Surtur of, oh, about 25 years ago now. Otherwise, though, the art does the job, with a lot of one- and two-page spreads for all the momentous, earth-shattering stuff that’s been a hallmark of Marvel’s Thor since Stan Lee stopped having the God of Thunder fight Communists and bank robbers back in the mid-1960’s. Recommended.