THOR (Marvel Select)
I’m a long time comic reader; and a devoted one at that. I’m talking “hasn’t missed a single issue in 27 years” devoted. That devotion has provided me with an encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe. Which was much more impressive pre-wikipedia. That kind of knowledge doesn’t just come from not missing an issue of Amazing Spider-Man for a quarter of a century, it comes from collecting, at one point or another, nearly every series that Marvel publishes. This is something that, between us, Doug and I have done over the years. But the goal was never to collect the entire Marvel Universe. We initially just started with a book or two each. I was buying Spider-Man and Doug was buying X-Men. The floodgates opened early though as only a month or two into our new hobby was Marvel’s 75th anniversary. Marvel commemorated the event by publishing each of their comics that month with a special cover that consisted of a close-up shot of the main character surrounded by a border made up of the companies most iconic heroes. Doug and I both really liked the look of these covers and thought that we should make an effort to buy a few additional titles. In those very early days we used to lay our comic collections out on the floor to admire and we imagined these themed covers would look great all lined up together. I remember one horrific incident when my Grandmother and my little sister Angie thought our comic collection looked like a dance floor and went to town on then. I still shudder when I think about it.
Anyway, the attempt at collecting the line wide collection of 75th anniversary covers led to us picking up a few titles that we may have otherwise never bought. Some of them (most, if not all) we ended up liking and so added them to our monthly pull list at the comic store. New Mutants springs to mind as a book I started collecting because of that random anniversary issue. We didn’t buy the Thor issue.
I remember having absolutely no interest in reading the Silver Surfer book because I thought he seemed lame. It was only when I was “forced” to buy his book because the “Life-Form” story line that had begun in the Punisher then continued into Daredevil and Hulk concluded in the Surfer’s book. After reading that one issue I fell in love with the character and never looked back. I cringe when I see companywide crossover events now but back in the day they definitely worked on me. If Marvel forced me into reading another title to see how a storyline carried on or ended, chances are I would end up collecting that book. The X-Men event “Inferno” of all things got me hooked on Daredevil when Doug and I attempted to buy all the related tie-in books. In Inferno a demon invasion resulted in inanimate objects springing to life. The Daredevil tie-in issue had him for fighting for his life against a vacuum cleaner; we were instantly hooked.
But when it came to Thor, we somehow managed to avoid him. Thor was one of Marvel’s big, popular, flagship characters and yet Doug and I never once collected his book. A crossover never came along that “forced” him on us and none of the random issues I acquired over the years ever enticed me enough to come back for more. Thor always seemed boring and looked goofy to me. That whole “Thor-speak” thing never appealed to me and his villains never captured my imagination either. I was a super-hero kid and Thor was too much fantasy and not enough super-hero in my mind. I feel that after a while everyone was taking Thor for granted. Marvel was not putting talented guys on the book and after a while people just didn’t really care about him. And so Marvel killed him. Not exactly shocking, Marvel kills everybody and some point or another and they always come back. Thor died and I didn’t care.
Around the same time other characters had also begun to feel stale. Captain America, Iron Man and the book that featured all 3 of them, the Avengers were all battling dwindling sales. It seemed maybe Marvel was losing its mojo. But then they did what they had to, they shook things up. The Avengers team as we know it was disassembled. Characters died, their mansion blew up, all hell broke loose and so the remaining members decided to call it quits. This didn’t last long of course. A new threat arose and the Avengers had to reform, this time as The New Avengers. The idea behind The New Avengers being that all of Marvel’s most popular characters should be on the Avengers in the same way that all of DC’s best characters are on the Justice League. And so Wolverine and Spider-Man became full time Avengers for the first time alongside reinvigorated regulars like Cap and Iron Man. But still no Thor, and I still didn’t really care. At least not at first but once I was a regular Avengers reader for the first time ever I did start to feel his absence after a while. As a founding member of the team it seemed as though he should be here for this Avengers renaissance. The book became Marvel’s top selling comic and its sister titles like Captain America and Iron Man began to climb up the sales charts as well.
When they did finally decide to bring Thor back from the dead, 3 years after his demise (which is a very impressive death length for a main character in the world of comics) I actually found myself excited. And the main reason for my excitement was the art of Olivier Coipel. I was not familiar with him prior to his art appearing in promotional material for the upcoming Thor book but it seemed a perfect match. I thought Thor looked cooler than he ever had before. His helmet sat low on his brow and he had chain mail on his arms and legs; he no longer looked like a relic of the golden age. And his face was changed, he wasn’t the pretty boy that he was before. He looked like a bruiser now. I feel Coipel did for Thor what Daniel Craig did for James Bond in that he made him believable again. The new Thor book written my J. Michael Straczynski turned out to be a fun read but it was the art that kept me around. And that’s how they got me. Marvel finally convinced me to give the character a shot and now I’m hooked even though Coipel and Straczynski are both long gone. The excellent Thor movie and his part in the Avengers film have increased my fondness of the character even more.
This 6” figure by Marvel Select is modelled after Coipel’s redesign of the character. It’s all there, the low helmet, the chainmail sleeves, the bruiser nose…I love it. I love when sculptors are able to truly capture an artist’s distinct style and translate it into 3 dimensions. This figure looks like a Coipel drawing that has jumped right off the page. The sculpt is amazing, the paint apps are stellar, the inclusion of his hammer and a display base is fantastic, I love this figure. If I had to whittle my Marvel collection down to one figure to display this guy would be a top contender. My only gripe, and it’s specific to my figure, is one of his god damn helmet feathers is backwards! I didn’t notice it when I initially bought him but once I opened it up and noticed the flaw it’s practically all I can see when I look at it. I wish it were a simple matter of taking it off and flipping it but it’s not. My Marvel Select Thor is cursed to walk around with a backwards feather on his head until the end of time. I guess I can chalk it up to a prank pulled by his brother Loki, the god of mischief. 10 out of 10. (when I overlook the production error)