Thor: God of Thunder #1 - The God Butcher Part 1
Written by Jason Aaron
Drawn by Esad Ribic
As the Marvel NOW relaunches start to overwhelm us already (two last week, four this week, four or five covers each and most having a second issue scheduled again this month), Marvel has been hitting 'em for the most part. Taking the cake this week is the start of the new Thor series, God of Thunder from gritty writer Jason Aaron (Scalped, Wolverine and the X-Men) and darkly detailed artist Esad Ribic (Loki, Silver Surfer: Requiem).
The issue begins 893 AD off the coast of Ireland. A Frost Giant has been wrecking havoc and it falls on Thor to smite the creature (essentially it was part of the story of Beowulf). As the drinking and celebrating of the giant's death run, it is brought to everybody's attention that a body has washed ashore. The villagers assume it's the washed up remains of a shipper who has fallen prey to the ocean but Thor knows better. This of the head of a God.
Cut to present day Thor as he answers the prayers of a little girl (though alien and not female looking at all but I digress) and brings water and aid to a dying planet and it's people. When he asks an elder why the child prayed for him and not one of their Gods, he is told that they believed Thor and his stories to be just that because they have no Gods. He tells of stories his mother had passed down about such beings who lived in jeweled castles in the clouds. After leaving, Thor takes to the skies to look for the missing Gods. As he feared, he has found the clouded realm but no sign of any life. Until he notices a chained door when no other door has been that way. Upon breaking in he finds the dead bodies of the Gods long forgotten, hung from the tops on meat hook. Somebody took their time. Somebody butchered these Gods (it actually sounds a bit silly saying that aloud but it's damn cool). As he realizes this, he is attacked by a beast. Not the Butcher himself but his "guard dog".
As that fight rages, we now go "Many Millennia From Now" in Asgard. An old and very Odin-looking Thor sits on the throne, the apparent last God. The Butcher's hoard surrounds outside. If this is going to be his last fight, he shall die a warrior's death;
"I am Thor Odinson. King of a broken Asgard. Last of all the Gods. And today I will try yet again to see Valhalla."
Having lost an arm at some point, he attaches his replacement (making us wonder what happened to the rest of the Destroyer) and charges into an entire army of those guard dogs we saw earlier.
Jason Aaron, in one issue and not even having shown him has made us fear the God Butcher. The amazing art of Ribic sets the tone for us as nothing shows us hope for this villain. Everything about the art screams "terror" and Aaron plays on that perfectly. Much like Uncanny Avengers, this story was mostly setup and I mostly didn't care. It was amazing and I'm very excited for what comes from Gorr the God Butcher and where Jason Aaron takes us with Thor.