With the opening salvo of a five part story arc starring The Mighty Thor as he exists in three different eras, "893 A.D. Iceland, present day, deep space, the Planet Indigarr, and many millennia from now, the Great Hall of Asgard" Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic begin their sure to be legendary run on one of Marvel Comics' most recognizable, and powerful, characters.
In "A World Without Gods," the Thor of 893 A.D, after conquering a frost giant and saving a small Viking village in Iceland, encounters a dead Native American Indian god whose body (in parts) has washed up upon the Icelandic shore. On the Planet Indigarr, the Thor of the present day answers the prayers of a species at their end of their ropes, and hopes for survival, due to a lack of rain on their planet. Thor, hearing their prayers, brings them rain, but wonders why their own native gods do not help them. He soon discovers the gory answer. Millennias from now, the Thor of the future is the last living god, left alone to defend the empty halls of Asgard against a being of terrible might...one that he first discerned the existence of way back in 893 A.D. Gorr the God Butcher has only a battered and aged Thor standing in his way from completing his goal of wiping out all the gods in the universe...
Jason Aaron brings an aspect back to Thor, as a character, that has been little touched upon, or briefly touched upon, recently. The Thor of the Marvel Universe is indeed the old Norse god of the northlanders, and he isn't the only deity to exist and interact, or not interact, with his peoples. While Aaron definitely alludes to an even higher plane of existence and spirituality of the Marvel U (Thor muses on finally reaching Valhalla if he fails in his final battle against Gorr), it's interesting to see Thor play the role of an active god and actually answer the prayers of some of his worshipers. Knowing Aaron and his penchant for smart and sly commentary, the whole issue of the existence of gods, and a belief in them, will come up. Even if not, this is going to be a Thor who deals with threats beyond the mortal realm, and this battle of gods is sure to be of a higher stakes to the higher realms than his usual Earth-saving adventures with The Avengers.
Artist Esad Ribic does an amazing job bringing this opening adventure to beautiful life. His art has a cinematic quality to it and his shading and sense of perception and panel layout really captures the wide open (and realistic looking) settings, from 893 A.D. Iceland to the strange halls of deceased alien gods. Dean White's somber colors and dark hues also drench the entire affair in a LOTR type dreariness that is fitting of the unfolding menace that Thor is facing. Thor (the comic book and the character) hasn't looked this good since Olivier Coipel reinvented his look a few years ago.
A wonderful and densely packed opening chapter in the new saga of Thor the God of Thunder, Thor God of Thunder #1 is one of the first must reads of the new slew of Marvel NOW! titles hitting the shelves.