Graphic Novel Review: Ultimate Thor

(Panini �8.99)

THE version of Thor introduced in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, a different reality to the conventional MU which originally purported to be much more grounded in reality, was initially shown as an ecologically aware pacifist with delusions of being the Norse god of thunder.

Having suffered a mental breakdown on his 30th birthday, psychiatric nurse Thorlief Golmen was institutionalised for 18 months, during which time he claimed to be on a mission to save the world, rallying various environmental extremist groups behind him as he spoke out against the American military-industrial complex.

Gifted with remarkable strength and control over lightning through technological means, he was apparently haunted by visitations from his malevolent brother Loki, culminating in his incarceration in a secure mental health facility. It is only following the invasion of Earth by an army of monsters under Loki’s control that his claims are vindicated and he is freed to join the Ultimates superhero team, at which point his natural godlike powers are returned.

This is what we know so far. Now, for the first time, the full story behind Thor’s banishment to Earth and subsequent restoration to godhood are revealed in a narrative which spans the centuries and travels between our realm and the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology, including the shining realm of Asgard, home of the gods.

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Eons ago, Thor and his brothers Loki and Balder help their fellow Asgardians end the thousand year war between gods and ice giants, bringing peace across the realms. But the ceasing of hostilities leads to new power games and machinations behind the scenes, culminating in Loki’s theft of the all-powerful runes at the heart of Asgard’s might.

Time passes, and the world turns, until at the start of the Second World War, the masked scientist Baron Zemo leads an invasion of Asgard by an alliance of frost giants and SS troops, an action which leads directly to Ragnarok, the twilight of the Norse gods.

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Meanwhile, in the present day, the traumatised Thorlief Golmen is helped through his recent breakdown by the assistance of Dr Donald Blake, who may have much closer links to the Asgardian gods than initially appears evident…

All three plot strands are instrumental in shaping Thor’s direction and development, highlighting how he differs from his Marvel counterpart, and set him up for his chronological debut in the early issues of The Ultimates.

Obviously released to tie in with the blockbuster movie, some of the later sections of this series might prove somewhat inaccessible for those unfamiliar with Thor’s later Ultimate Universe appearances, but on the whole this is a strong reworking of the character’s continuity, and a definite improvement on his recent resurrection in Jeph Loeb’s New Ultimates title.

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