Warning: spoilers for Thor: God of Thunder and, accordingly, potential spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder.
Incredibly, Jason Aaron’s epic run on Thor started 10 years ago with 2012’s Thor: God of Thunder. Since then, there have been plenty of collections of his run to choose from. So, why should Marvel now release this The Saga of Gorr the God Butcher trade, which collects Aaron’s first 11 issues?
Oh, that’s right. With Thor: Love and Thunder coming to movie theaters next week, this is the perfect time to sell a new collection of the comics the movie is at least partially based upon.
But, not completely based upon. Don’t expect to find Jane Foster wielding Mjolnir as a female Thor in this collection. That famous plot doesn’t happen until later in Aaron’s run.
Instead, this story features three different versions of Thor – one past, one present and one from the far future. Each shares the spotlight in a way that enhances the overall narrative. Although they get somewhat wiser with age, all three mostly fall into the Viking warrior/dumb jock characterization of Thor that fits well with Chris Hemsworth’s portrayal. Thor’s solution to most problems is to either hit it really hard with Mjolnir or drink ale. I can’t imagine all three Thors appearing in the upcoming movie, although a flashback sequence featuring the past Thor could be very intriguing.
Aaron writes the story as a true epic, which is easy to do when Esad Ribic is the artist. His life-like drawings make the most fantastical characters, places and scenes come to life. It’s no wonder we have already seen one moment from the comic’s page translated one-to-one onto the movie screen. I expect to see plenty more.
In the comic’s storyline, time travel plays a vital role, but I can’t imagine this aspect making its way into the movie. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed this part of the narrative tremendously as it adds to the epic nature of the story, as well as highlights Thor’s character growth. I just think time travel would make the movie overly convoluted.
Obviously, the biggest connection between this collection and the movie is the antagonist, Gorr, the God Butcher. And Aaron did indeed create a scene stealing villain. Gorr is frightfully evil, appearing out of nowhere with tremendous power, torturing and butchering the gods of the Marvel Universe in graphic ways (which also probably won’t appear in the movie).
But, he also has an understandable motivation behind his murders, which reaches to the depths of faith and religion. He basically personifies aggressive atheist thinking; literally killing gods in the same way that atheistic philosophy is supposed to kill the belief in God altogether.
Gorr’s origin and the foundation of his ideology are told in issue #6, which is drawn by Butch Guice in a more classic comic book style. This style fits the flashback chapter well. In effect, massive suffering and unanswered prayers lead Gorr to the conclusion that there must not be any gods. But when he then witnesses two gods, locked in battle, crash at his feet, he’s filled with bitterness and rage.
Realizing that gods do indeed exist, but none has ever done anything to end his suffering, he comes to the conclusion that all gods must be selfish, worthless things, who don’t actually care one bit about the mortals who worship them. And so, empowered by a weapon he finds on the fallen gods, Gorr vows revenge and sets out to kill every god in existence.
I’ve read similar views of gods and religious faith in other works by Jason Aaron and assumed that he must be an atheist himself. And considering the way Aaron writes most gods in the Marvel Universe, every one of the accusations against them is grounded. They do only care for themselves and their own petty needs, not giving much thought to mortals except for their own profit or enjoyment.
But, this collection has made me wonder just how atheist Aaron’s worldview is. After all, these arguments for atheism are being made by the obviously evil villain, not your standard role model. Why would Aaron put his viewpoint into the vicious antagonist? Of course, Gorr’s views are thought provoking, causing even the Thor of the present to wonder if he may be right.
Additionally, the climax of the whole collection reminds me of the story of Jesus Christ. I won’t go into it more, because I don’t want to spoil things, but this also made me wonder if my original assumption of Aaron’s atheism was correct or not. Whatever may be the case, it’s a climax as epic and satisfying as could be hoped for.
In conclusion, if you’ve never read Jason Aaron’s Thor run but want to, this is the perfect collection at a very good price. It’s an epic from the fantastic art down to the narrative style. The first half lasts longer than it needs to, but Aaron ramps up the action and emotional stakes in the end, keeping you hooked and wanting more. Gorr the God Butcher, represents a well-written villain, whose motivations are relatable and thought-provoking, but whose actions are pure evil. It’s no wonder this story has been chosen for a movie adaptation.
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